- This is Poly
Each Friday we’ve been featuring a new faculty member on Facebook. In case you missed “New Faculty Fridays,” enjoy our recap of new teachers we highlighted in August. Welcome Edwin Craig, Afia Obeng, and Allison Corvo!
Edwin was attracted to Poly because of the diverse faculty and “amazing student body.” “I can’t wait to get to know the students and to learn from their individual experiences,” he said.
A driving force in his decision to become a Learning Specialist was having the example of Mr. Dreyden, his 11th grade U.S. history teacher. “He made the lesson come alive through his passion for the subject and connection with the students,” Edwin said. “He excelled at working with students individually or in small groups. He made you feel at ease and broke down complex ideas or concepts for you to understand.”
Edwin earned an Ed.M in Special Education and B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“It is imperative that we listen, understand, and respond with compassion to our students’ needs during these challenging times.”
With the challenges of the pandemic and Poly’s commitment to anti-racism curriculum this year, Edwin said, “It is important as educators that we provide an atmosphere of understanding, hope, and equal opportunity in our classrooms. It is imperative that we listen, understand, and respond with compassion to our students’ needs during these challenging times.”
Edwin, who has lived in Japan, Australia, and the Philippines, is a movie buff and, when not teaching, enjoys watching a great movie.
Poly’s new Middle School science teacher, Afia Obeng, learned from her teacher, Sister Noreen, that something as common as cooking was really chemistry. “Her easy and understandable approach to teaching the content helped cultivate my love for the subject,” Afia said. “She encouraged me, as one of her high-achieving students, to apply for a summer internship at the Public Health Research Institute (PHRI) of the New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ. I realized, once I entered PHRI, that in high school I was learning textbook chemistry, while in the actual lab setting, I was applying biological and chemical concepts in tandem.” This experience sparked Afia’s interest in biochemistry. “But what ultimately inspired me to pursue the field was researching alongside a cohort of students and successful research scientists who ‘looked like me,’” she said.
Afia is excited to come to Poly, where she will teach Grades 7 and 8 science, because of the school’s commitment to “robust faculty development,” and promoting diversity in both school culture and curriculum.
“We are dealing with a dual public health crisis. The coronavirus pandemic and structural racism—coupled with an economic decline. With these issues come unprecedented levels of fear, anxiety, and stress.”
Afia is ready for the challenges ahead this academic year. “We are dealing with a dual public health crisis, “ she said, “the coronavirus pandemic and structural racism—coupled with an economic decline. With these issues come unprecedented levels of fear, anxiety, and stress. In a time like this, it is imperative to be sensitive to different ways we are impacted and different ways we cope, and to be compassionate towards each other.”
She became “very technologically savvy in terms of utilizing different online resources to engage students” this past spring and will bring this experience to the Virtual Poly setting.
When not teaching, Afia loves poetry, specifically spoken word, and has performed in the past with her sister.
Allison Corvo’s interest in teaching began while working at the rockwall at Rutgers University, supervising children’s climbing parties. “When a child reached the top of the wall,” Allison said, “they would usually have a big, nervous smile as I belayed them down. I loved helping to foster a sense of accomplishment in them.”
After earning a masters in English education from Rutgers, she taught at a public high school in New Jersey for eight years. Allison worked in human resources for a year before returning to teaching at Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Carroll Gardens, where she taught 7th grade Humanities.
Allison knows how important Middle School is to developing writers. Her own interest in writing was nurtured when she shared her poems during creative writing classes and received positive feedback on essays from her favorite teacher, Mr. Healy. Allison is up for the challenges ahead this year.
“I love helping students realize how reading, writing, speaking, and listening are not skills that function separately, confined to one class period or assignment. Literacy is a well from which we draw to understand and articulate complex and nuanced human experiences.”
One of her personal goals is to learn Spanish. “I’ve taken a class and have listened to many audiobooks and podcasts,” she said. “However, I know I need to commit to a more disciplined practice, as well as seek out people with whom I can practice. I also have to overcome the fear of making mistakes in my pronunciation and grammar.”
When not teaching, Allison likes to take her inflatable kayak out on the water. “I love being out in the early mornings,” she said. “The water is incredibly still, and it’s so peaceful.”