Spotlight

Mrs. Ayala: Destined to Teach
By: Jianna Milan


Mrs. Ayala has always wanted to be a teacher. When she was nine, she would create lessons for her younger cousin and“teach him.” Her original goal was to become a special education teacher and work with deaf students. However, she “got distracted with life,” and finished getting her cosmetology license instead. She worked as a hairdresser for ten years before returning to college and getting several degrees.
When asked about the colleges she attended, Mrs. Ayala said that there were too many, and instead opted to list off those that she graduated from, those being California State University, East Bay and the University of Phoenix. Currently, she is a student at Georgian Court University in the hopes of receiving her special education certification. Despite having spent many years in education and currently being a math teacher, Mrs. Ayala claims that she was a mediocre student in math.
“I was just an okay student,” she says. “I started off in elementary education, but when I wanted to teach middle school and high school I had to choose a subject. [In] math [there] was always [a] right answer. I liked that.”
When not teaching, Mrs. Ayala spends her time taking care of babies. Recently, her wife gave birth to two twins, and the couple had another child a few years prior. She would like her students to know that “success in school is more about working hard and being a good student by persevering, sticking with things when they get tough, as opposed to how smart you are.”



Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover: A Short Film
By: Riya Prakash

     This March, a small group of our school’s 8th graders wrote, directed, acted in, and produced a short film titled “Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover” and entered it into the Count Basie Teen + College Film Festival. Despite being one of two narrative films in the middle school category, this group of student actors was able to win the audience choice award, besting the 23 other films that were able to make it into the festival out of the 83 total submissions. 
     Written by Victoria Dillon, this film starred Benjamin Amstislavskiy, Danielle Lirov, Damian Rogowski, and Danielle Ahearn and featured Anna Petruzzi, Arca Baran (in the deleted scenes), Somrishi Banerjee, Rishika Raghavan, and Rithvika Gunupudi as extras. Additionally, the film was produced by Danielle Ahearn and directed by Damian Rogowski.
     In this production of truly superior acting and film making, the eight-member cast produced a narrative of flawed stereotypes and conveyed the overall theme “don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” hence the name. This message is displayed through a collection of scenes which look into the stereotypes made and wrongfully assigned by our society. As the film came to an end, the characters revealed their true interests and natures in order to nullify the stereotypical standards that the video portrayed them with.
     All in all, as a result of hard work, creativity, and sheer talent, this group of students was able to create a sincerely original and inspirational media masterpiece worthy of every praise it received.





Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Ricker

By: Zaina Saif

“A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches the heart.”
Author Unknown
     Ms. Ricker is one of Marlboro Memorial’s greatest English Language Arts teachers. She began her teaching career at MMMS when the school first opened in 2001. She was inspired to teach Language Arts by her own teachers in middle school. With their encouragement of her as a student, Ms. Ricker found that she had a knack for writing and literature. She went onto get her Bachelor's Degree at California State University in Sacramento and her Masters at Georgian Court University.
     Ms. Ricker found her place at Memorial “by sheer luck,” she says. Madam Barthole, the French teacher at the time, told her about job openings at our school. “Shortly after I arrived, I slowly began to fall in love with the welcoming environment and people that I was surrounded with,” she says. She says that the students and staff in our school are all so wonderful. “Everyone is very helpful and eager to succeed.” She never envisioned herself teaching 8th graders but is lucky that she seized this opportunity. She sees so much potential in 8th graders and understands the journey of the transition between middle school and high school. She says, “They are still kids who are discovering our world, so teaching 8th grade -and in a middle school in general- is like seeing the world through a different set of eyes.”
     Outside of school, Ms. Ricker loves to watch hockey and read. She grew up in Southern California and likes to use social media to keep in touch with her best friends from back home. She has two boys and says, “When I’m not a school you can most likely find me at a hockey rink supporting my sons.” She is also Quad N team leader, aside from teaching. Before becoming a teacher at Memorial, Ms. Ricker worked in banking at Santander Bank in California and for Bank of America.
     She advises that 8th graders should embrace the challenges that life offers them and learn from them. “When in doubt, always choose to be kind,” Ms. Ricker says. She is inspired by Mother Teresa and sees her as a reminder that you can’t control what other people do and you have to be the person you were meant to be, regardless. 
     Clearly, Ms. Ricker is not only teaching her students Language Arts, but is also guiding them through their journey as 8th graders. Our school is lucky to have such a remarkable teacher providing for our students. I would like to thank Ms. Ricker for her services to Memorial!





Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Stein
By: Saketh Ayyagari
     Mrs. Stein, one of Memorial’s teachers, makes reading fun for everyone. She uses many teaching strategies in her lessons, and they seem to have worked well! Mrs. Stein majored in both psychology and education and went on to receive her Master’s Degree in reading. If you look on her teacher page, you can see she is a “certified reading specialist.” She has been teaching at Memorial since the minute it opened. 
     “The nation's children don't like to read, and their reading scores can reflect this disdain. While they are proficient at haiku length, phonics-based texting and Tweeting, their eyes glaze over when they have to read a book,” she says on her teacher page. She hopes that people get interested in many titles so that books turn into a passion for people, just like what happened with her.
      What’s surprising is that when Mrs. Stein was three, she TAUGHT herself to read! Since then, her passion for literature has never lessened. To encourage others to read, she sometimes gives a treat to other ELA classes when she comes in for “One Chapter Wednesday” or “First Chapter Friday.” Every week, she’ll come in and read an excerpt from a different book. In addition to these classroom visits, she also introduced Memorial’s “Tournament of Books,” which asks students to rank their favorite books and vote on the best one. She says that the opportunity that it gives is that it “recommends” new and unfamiliar titles that kids may be interested in. 
     When outside of Memorial, Mrs. Stein visits the library EVERY DAY! She has two children, both girls. Her oldest one is in 10th grade, and her youngest is in 6th grade. Her husband is also a teacher of math and science in another district.
     In conclusion, Mrs. Stein is a one-of-a-kind teacher, who always has reading in the center of her heart. Thank you, Mrs. Stein, for your passion for books and for inspiring others to love reading!





Student Alumni: Angelica DeFalco
By: Sreeja Paruchuri
    Angelica DeFalco is a 19 year old student who is currently a sophomore at the University of Miami. She graduated from Marlboro Memorial in 2013. Currently, she is majoring in psychology and minoring in chemistry. Angelica loves reading, and her favorite book series is Harry Potter. Another hobby of hers is yoga. She states,”I like to do yoga to exercise and keep my mind at ease during college!” Her favorite music genre is indie/alt rock, but she says that “...nothing beats a good (new) Jonas Brothers song.” She also enjoys writing, tanning, and going to the beach with her friends. 
     Angelica is planning on attending a graduate program, and she wants to become a Doctor of Psychology. She says,” I have a passion for mental health and treating and diagnosing mental illness.” If that does not work out, another dream of Angelica’s would be to become a college professor because she would like to inspire college students just like her teachers did for her. Angelica’s favorite subjects in middle school were science and social studies, so she says that her experiences at MMMS did spark her interest in the correct areas and showed her where her talents and passions lie.
     Angelica said that middle school was definitely an important part of her life, and that it introduced her”to a lot of aspects of [herself] that were essential to [her] growth as a young woman.” She adds, ”It was an awkward phase, but if I had done it any differently I think I’d be a different person today.” Angelica loved going to school and she thought she was really lucky to have had such amazing teachers. She says,”All of my teachers helped me as much as they could and really built my foundation and prepared me for high school...I was so lucky to have a supportive MMMS staff. They were empowering and understanding!” In fact, some Angelica’s favorite teachers include Mr. Bucci, who she says made social studies interesting and memorable, Mrs. Hendrickson, who she says was very relatable, and Ms. Bruzzi, who she says built her foundation for high school math. 
     One of her most memorable moments from middle school was the Mesopotamian Song, which she says “was a big highlight of 6th grade.” Additionally, she also really enjoyed field days—especially her 8th grade one. During middle school, Angelica was in Conflict Managers. She says it ”sparked the mediator in me. I am known to be the mediator with every conflict and I am able to find compromises and resolve conflicts well today.”
     When asked what she would do differently if given the opportunity to redo middle school, Angelica says,”I would’ve stopped thinking everything was the end of the world...In hindsight, everything seems clearer, but if I had just been a little bit more relaxed and understanding, I would’ve enjoyed my experience a lot more.” Her favorite part about MMMS was the friendly and supportive MMMS staff. She says that her experiences with them gave her a positive outlook on teachers and people in general. 
     Some advice Angelica has for middle school students is, “Don’t be afraid to reach out to your teachers! They are great sources of support and, in the end, they are people! They know what it’s like to be your age and they are understanding. They’re not scary or intimidating.” Her final message to students is “.have fun! Being young doesn’t last forever (not that I’m that old). Get off your phone sometimes. Go outside, listen to music, listen to your environment, be observant. The entire world doesn’t exist online or on your phone.”




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