New Teachers at Harriton


The 2020-21 school year has brought new beginnings to many in the Harriton community, especially several new teachers. The Banner spoke with these new members of the staff to gain insight about their first impressions of this unique school year. 

Four teachers were interviewed: Ms. Smart, Mr. Hasty, Mr. Spiotta, all brand new this year, and Ms. Wamsley, whose first year was the 2019-20 school year. Although these teachers are from different departments and teach different grade levels, the perspectives they shared have many similarities. 

When asked what they heard about Harriton before starting, they mentioned a variety of different aspects. Hasty recalled Harriton’s strong Science Olympiad team, so as a science teacher, he was very excited to see what his department was all about. In fact, it exceeded his expectations. Mr. Hasty speaks very positively about his fellow teachers and how great of an environment they have created for him.

Ms. Smart, a Spanish teacher, shared a different perspective; having a friend who attended Harriton, she heard of Harriton being a tight-knit school. She went on to say that Harriton feels like a community already and that “students care and want to build a relationship with you”. 

When prompted about Harriton culture, second-year teacher Mrs. Wamsley says that the culture of Harriton is “top-down”: the administrators care about the success and betterment of the students, which in turn cultivates a positive environment.

Alternatively, Ms. Smart explained how she hasn’t noticed a distinct culture quite yet but has observed that students are extremely determined and care a lot about their academics.

Psychology teacher, Mr. Spiotta, added, “It is obvious the people at Harriton put in that work. After learning I am new, every person I have met immediately welcomes me and asks if there is anything they can do to help me. There is a pervasive feeling of community within the building which is infectious.”

While varying perspectives exist, all of the teachers seem to agree on one aspect of their teaching experience at Harriton thus far: their least favorite part is teaching online during the coronavirus pandemic. Acclimating to a new teaching environment that is 100% online has been a challenge for everyone.

However, all of the teachers that have been interviewed expressed excitement and awe when asked about their first weeks at Harriton. Most have conveyed their love for the teacher network, and how passionate the students are.

Mr. Spiotta excitedly said, “I’ve loved everywhere I’ve taught, but Harriton is the best, obviously!” With less than a month of school in the books, the students and teachers have been able to create a community that positively impacts everyone.