Mrs. Dokus: Touching Hearts, One Note At A Time
By: Rishika Raghavan

      Mrs. Dokus, one of Memorial’s spectacular music teachers, makes being a part of an orchestra a fun and enjoyable experience for her students. 
      Mrs. Dokus divides her time between the two middle schools in Marlboro, along with directing a special group called the Griffins, which includes advanced-level students from each school. However, her undying love for music and conducting orchestras did not start out this way.
      As a child, Mrs. Dokus never believed that she would become a teacher, let alone an orchestra director. Music was always a big part of her life, but she never thought it could be a career in her future. In fact, Mrs. Dokus was a varsity athlete in soccer and basketball in high school, and she believed that she would go to college on an athletic scholarship. Even though she was busy with her athletics, Mrs. Dokus continued to play the cello throughout her middle and high school years. However, after a serious sports injury, Mrs. Dokus decided to pursue a degree in musical education.       Working with students sparked her interest in teaching, especially since conducting classes were some of her favorite in college. 
      Mrs. Dokus gained her love of music from a very young age. She started to learn how to play piano in kindergarten and cello later on in third grade in her elementary school’s music program. During the instrument demonstration, she heard the teacher play the “Jaws” theme on the cello. At that moment, Mrs. Dokus knew that she would love to learn how to play cello and be able to play that song. Mrs. Dokus has been playing the cello for nearly twenty years now, and she continues to improve her skills every day.
      Mrs. Dokus has been teaching for seven years. She started teaching in Lumberton, NJ, after graduating college at TCNJ. She taught fourth through eighth grade strings there for three years before coming to Marlboro. This school year is her fourth year teaching in Marlboro. Mrs. Dokus’ favorite part about teaching at MMMS is the students. She really enjoys the experience of seeing and hearing the progress of the orchestra coming together. She believes strongly that a lot of teamwork is required to be able to play in an orchestra, and that it is always exciting and rewarding to perform together after the hard work everyone puts in.
      When she’s not teaching at MMMS, Mrs. Dokus loves spending time with her family, friends, and dog, Johnny. She is also very involved with music outside of school. She is in a professional string quartet called Four Shore Strings that she manages, and she is currently playing in her eighth season with The Monmouth Symphony. She also conducts The New Jersey State Youth Orchestra and The Marlboro Phoenix Orchestra and is the vice president of All Shore Orchestra. 
      Throughout her life, her mom has been her biggest musical advocate and has supported her through every step of the way. Her musical idol is the cellist, Yo-Yo Ma. He is not only one of the finest musicians in the world, but a humanitarian. He is a kind, humble, and inspiring person, and she strives to be like him one day. Five years from now, Mrs. Dokus sees herself still teaching and exploring new ways to get kids involved in music.
      One piece of advice she would give to her students to use in the future is, “Never stop appreciating and exploring music! Music is something you can actively participate in throughout your entire life. Even if you choose to stop playing, remember the life skills learning an instrument has taught you- responsibility, teamwork, setting and accomplishing goals, listening to others, and learning from your mistakes.” 
      Mrs. Dokus’s encouraging words, helpful advice, and one-of-a-kind teaching skills will undoubtedly inspire a myriad of children aspiring to be successful musicians one day. Thank you, Mrs. Dokus!

Ms. Freeman: Motivating Students to Succeed 
By: Rishika Raghavan

As William Arthur Ward once said, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Ms. Freeman, one of Memorial’s awesome teachers, makes learning math fun. If you don’t like math, all of that will definitely change when you’re in her class.
Ms. Freeman loves teaching math and was always good at it. It all started in high school, when she was lucky enough to be in classes taught by great teachers who made math really fun for her. However, her dreams of becoming a teacher originated much earlier than that. She has dreamt of becoming a teacher since elementary school. Hence, Ms. Freeman decided to pursue a career in teaching mathematics
    Ms. Freeman’s teaching career began in 1999. She’s been teaching and inspiring students to love math for nearly nineteen years! Before she taught at MMMS, she taught students in Japan for a year. Her students’ ages ranged from one and a half up to eighty. After this experience, Ms. Freeman realized how much she loves teaching middle schoolers. Her favorite thing about this age group is that they are still young enough to enjoy “childish” things like arts and crafts, but old enough to know how to behave properly in class. 
One thing she loves about teaching at MMMS is the amazing staff and environment. She loves how the atmosphere in the school always encourages people to improve and share ideas with each other. Her favorite thing about teaching math is when she finally sees students find their “aha moment” and understand a particularly difficult topic.
Outside of school, Ms. Freeman enjoys traveling. So far, she has been to forty eight states, twenty three countries, and counting! She also loves reading, watching shows, and attending concerts. Five years from now, Ms. Freeman sees herself still teaching at Memorial, creating more memorable moments, and helping children understand math better. One piece of advice Ms. Freeman would give to her students to use in the future is, “Be yourself, and stop worrying about what others will think about you. The only opinion of yourself that matters is your own.” 
Ms. Freeman’s influential words will definitely help many, many students throughout their lives, and her unique and fun method of teaching will make math one hundred times easier for any of her students.

Memorial’s Superhero - Mrs. Tatgenhorst
By: Zaina Saif

Above: Mrs. Tatgenhorst with her husband and her dog, Chunk. 

“Not all superheroes have capes; some have Teaching Degrees.” 
         Mrs. Tatgenhorst is an eighth grade math teacher who has been teaching at MMMS for 10 years. She was born born in Manalapan, New Jersey and started teaching at Memorial after she graduated college. At Memorial, Mrs. Tatgenhorst coaches the sixth and seventh grade girls basketball team and the softball team. She chose to teach math because she loves that math always has a right and wrong answer. She says, “There is nothing you can do without math. Everything in life revolves around mathematics. Numbers are [all] around us.” She encourages her students to study, try their best, and most importantly, show all of their work! Her hobbies include coaching, playing with her dog, Chunk, and spending time with her family and friends. Mrs. Tatgenhorst is Memorial’s superhero and I’d like to thank her for spreading joy and positivity throughout the classroom. Thank you, Mrs. Tatgenhorst!

Mr. Ancona: Teacher Spotlight
By: Danielle Ahearn 

Literacy can be defined as the ability to read, write, and analyze. When many people think about that, they are disgusted. English. How tedious, one may think. However, once a student experiences being in Mr. Ancona’s class, that will likely change
     Mr. Ancona is an 8th grade English teacher who teaches on Quad J. He has been teaching since 2010. For his entire teaching career, he has been at MMMS. However, it wasn’t always clear to him that he would eventually be an English teacher. As a student of Rutgers, Mr. Ancona’s original major was physical therapy. However, he did not enjoy the amount of mathematics involved, so he eventually switched majors to English. Mr. Ancona continued as a student at Rutgers for his graduate degree as well.
    When Mr. Ancona was a child, he never really enjoyed English as a subject because he thought the class itself was boring due to the restrictive mindset some of his teachers had on the subject. Nonetheless, he always enjoyed reading and writing. To him, English is an avenue to be creative. As a teacher for nine years, Mr. Ancona enjoys helping students express creativity and achieve goals. He also enjoys that when teaching, he has the freedom to approach certain topics in creative ways. He believes that teaching is a great way to learn and expand one’s knowledge.
     “I saw, and still see, teaching as a way to foster a love for learning, not just about literature, but anything in general,” he says.
    Outside of teaching, Mr. Ancona is a big Yankees and Broncos fan. He is very involved with fitness and has been a fan of the WWE since he was in third grade, as well.
As one of Mr. Ancona’s students this school year, I would like to thank him for everything that he does for his students.

Checking in With 2013 Graduate, Grace Zhang
By: Danielle Ahearn

    Grace Zhang is a 19-year-old sophomore at The University of Notre Dame who graduated from MMMS in 2013. Grace’s hobbies include playing tennis, cooking, and reading. Grace enjoys science, biology in particular. She is a big fan of Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, and Anne Hathway, and loves the movie The Devil Wars Prada. 
     When Grace graduates Notre Dame, she would like to go to medical school after taking a gap year. Currently, she is majoring in Biology and has a minor in Poverty Studies. When she gets out of school, she intends to become a pediatrician and a professor, specifically working in academic medicine. Grace believes that the decisions she made while she was at MMMS greatly influenced her career choice. During middle school, she took pleasure in humanities, writing, and science. When she was in 8th grade, she had the decision to either go to Howell High School for humanities or Biotechnology High School. Grace chose to go to Biotechnology High School. She says that this decision is something that greatly impacted her life. 
     In middle school, Grace participated in yearbook club, tennis, jazz band, and creative arts. She says that the clubs she participated in helped her build strong friendships that she would not get to make otherwise. These activities and her classes helped her improve as a student and friend through challenges she faced in and out of the classroom. For her, it wasn’t the easiest time, but MMMS helped shape her as a person and prepare for her high school and beyond. 
     Looking back on her days at Memorial, one of Grace’s favorite memories was going to Hershey Park with the MMMS jazz band for competitions. She thought the assignments she received when she was in middle school were challenging but fair. She specifically remembers reading the book Animal Farm by George Orwell in Mrs. Ricker’s class in 8th grade. Grace was very fond of the fact that she had classes she was interested in, such as Creative Arts and Jazz Band, but she did not like carrying heavy books around. She also remembers enjoying Mr. Talley’s math class very much. After originally struggling with mathematics in elementary school, she was impacted by Mr. Talley’s teaching style and the course itself. 
     Grace says, “After taking Mr. Talley’s 6th grade math class, I built a better foundation for mathematics and started to like it. I wasn’t scared of math anymore!”
     If Grace were able to redo middle school, she would’ve started playing tennis earlier and would’ve tried out for tennis earlier than she had. Another thing she would have done is talk to her teachers more. Growing up, Grace was a very shy student.
     Life now is very different for Grace than it was back when she was a student at Marlboro Memorial Middle School. However, there are certain things she enjoys in the college lifestyle; in college, she enjoys that she gets to choose which classes she takes and arrange her own schedule. College classes are also a lot more specific than they are in middle school.
     When asked what advice she would give to current students at Memorial, she said, “It’s all about how you study. There is nothing you can not learn! Be patient with yourself and don’t give up. Surround yourself with hard-working, motivated friends that you want to be like.”

Mr. Goley: Our Musical Savior
By: Jamila J. Abreu

     As a wise man once said, "Every answer to your problem is to subdivide." That wise man is Mr. Goley. Mr.Goley is our incredible band director here at MMMS. He guides our school band to sound like a professional symphony and loves what he does. His students in band adore him. How did he discover his passion, you may ask? Let’s find out. 
     It all started when Mr. Goley was in middle school. Before he discovered his passion for music, he loved to play sports. He knew he wanted to try music. However, he did not know it was going to change his life. He discovered his passion for music when he played his first instrument, the alto-saxophone. He touched the shiny instrument and was intrigued. Once he started to create a sound, it became official: he loved music.
     When he was in middle school, he idolized his music teachers. He wanted to be just like them. At that moment, he realized what he wanted to be when he grew up, so he decided to take after his teachers. He wanted to become a music teacher. As he went along, grade after grade, he was working up towards his goal. Years passed, and he graduated high school as a young and hard working man ready to learn more and eventually make a career. Eventually, he did it. He graduated from college and felt proud. His supportive family was also as proud as he was. 
     His first time teaching was nerve wracking for him. However, he loved working with students. He’s taught many classes here at Memorial, and he enjoys it. Without Mr. Goley, the school band would be very different. He became the person he is today by learning from his mistakes and achievements. Mr. Goley says he could never have been the man he is today without his students and his teachers. As Arianna Huffington one said, "Success is not a straight line; it’s much more of a dance and being open to possibilities." 

Student Alumnus: Samantha Ahearn
By: Sreeja Paruchuri

     Samantha Ahearn is a 20 year old student who is currently attending Fordham University in New York. She graduated from Marlboro Memorial in 2012. Her interests include reading, writing, swimming, listening to music, and spending time with her family and friends. Samantha is working towards getting her bachelor’s degree in history and is then planning to earn a master’s degree in education. She says that her years spent at MMMS definitely influenced her career choice of becoming a middle school history teacher because it was during that time that she began to discover her passion for history. Additionally, it was during this time that Samantha realized that middle school is the most important time in one’s life and that she wanted to be able to guide and support future middle schoolers the way her teachers did for her. In fact, Samantha even stated that she would love to be able to teach in a school with an environment very similar to MMMS or even teach at MMMS if she had the opportunity. 
     Samantha said that middle school was an extremely critical time in her life and changed her as a person in positive ways. She says,”I worked really hard in middle school and received good grades, and this made me believe that I could take honors classes in high school and work even harder...Middle school made me believe that with determination and dedication, your dreams are possible.” Her favorite teacher in Marlboro Memorial was Mrs. Marion. Samantha says, “She is the kindest and funniest person I know.” Furthermore, she also thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Bucci’s sixth grade social studies class and Mr. Fine’s seventh grade social studies class. She says, “That’s where I learned the most interesting histories. My favorite time periods in history are the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, so learning about those in seventh grade was interesting.” 
     During middle school, Samantha also made numerous memories. Her most fond memories of middle school were during the end of eighth grade. Specifically, she enjoyed the eighth grade barbecue at the swim club and the quad days at the end of the year. She says, “That week was bittersweet because I knew I was saying goodbye to my friends and teachers soon, but it was great to make some lasting memories with them.” Additionally, she also remembers enjoying the eighth grade field trip to Six Flags. Samantha also loved several school assignments she had. For example, she has fond memories of winning a debate in Mr. Healy’s eighth grade class. “I’ll never forget how proud I was of myself, because the assignment was challenging for me, but I overcame my struggles,” she says. Another assignment Samantha enjoyed was a roller coaster project in Mrs. Pagliaro’s eighth grade class, which she and her teammates won an award for. 
     Her favorite parts about her time at MMMS were the teachers, classes, and the wonderful memories she made. She says, “I left MMMS almost seven years ago, and many of my best friends from that time still are my best friends now. The teachers and staff at MMMS were so friendly and the projects and activities were so fun.” However, like most middle school students today, one thing that Samantha did not enjoy about middle school was that she had to wake up so early every day. If Samantha had another chance at middle school, she says she would have liked to be more involved in after school activities. She says, “I joined theater club and many different volunteer organizations in high school, and it would have been nice to start earlier.”
     Some advice Samantha has for middle school students is, “Take class seriously, but do not forget to have fun with your friends along the way. One bad grade is not the end of the world, but don’t let that become a habit, because it will only be harder to catch up or improve later.” Some final thoughts she would like to share are, “Although I started MMMS ten years ago, I often look back and smile at those days. I hope that in ten years you can all do the same, and I hope you all know how lucky you are to go to such a great school.”

1 comment:

  1. I learned so motivating stories about so many teachers! Great job to all the authors and teachers.


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