Category Archives: Teacher Spotlight

Mr. Wheeler strives to inspire his ‘nation’

By Abby Van Duyn, ’24

Staff Writer

Mr. Wheeler is a 6th grade Math and Social Studies teacher at Hanover Middle School who has been teaching for 21 years. When he was in school, Mr. Wheeler saw how important teachers could be in the lives of students. He chose this career because he wanted to be the type of teacher that inspired students to do and be their best. 

“When I went through school, I felt that many teachers just went through the motions and did not take advantage of the opportunity to be a positive role model for their students,” he said. “I felt if I became a teacher, I could be a positive role model for students and motivate them to work hard at any type of goals.”

Mr. Wheeler’s inspiration also stemmed from a positive experience with one of his teachers named John Hopkins, a longtime Hanover English teacher who retired just a few years ago. “He was so passionate about teaching and he was great at making connections with students,” Mr. Wheeler explained.

Mr. Wheeler is famous at HMS for having a strong and unified homeroom and for bringing all of his students together throughout the year. Being part of “Wheeler Nation” is a special experience where everyone is inspired and connected. For students who are lucky enough to go to Camp Squanto as a part of Mr. Wheeler’s homeroom, it’s often a highlight of their four years at HMS.

“Some of my favorite memories about teaching are setting high expectations for my students and seeing them reach those goals later on in the year,” he said. He also loves “witnessing my homeroom students work together and come together like a big family.”

Mr. Wheeler has not always taught 6th grade in Hanover. In his earlier years, he taught one year in Hingham as well as the 5th grade at HMS. In addition, he started out as an English teacher in his first year at HMS and then switched to teaching Math.

Throughout his years of teaching 6th grade, he has grown to love the age of the students. 

“They are still young enough that you can still spark the majority of the students to be invested in their education and have them engaged in whatever crazy lessons I have planned,” he said. “In addition, they are mature enough to work independently on many things.” 

As we all know, this year has been extra challenging for teachers and students because of Covid-19.  When asked how it impacted him, Mr. Wheeler said, “With the start of COVID, I have learned more about technology in one year than I had in the previous five years.” He’s also had to modify many of his projects. 

Although it might seem that Mr. Wheeler is always working on plans for his students, he has a life and family outside of school too. When the school day is over, Mr. Wheeler enjoys playing basketball and skiing.  He describes himself as a big sports fan and enjoys doing anything outside and taking vacations with his family.

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Mrs. Hughes shares her love of lit with students

By Ashley Stracco, ’24

Staff Writer

If you had known Mrs. Hughes as the HMS assistant principal, you might have been surprised to see her in a classroom this year at HHS. But Mrs. Hughes has returned to teaching English, a subject she has loved since her own time in high school.  

As an English teacher to freshmen, sophomores and juniors, Mrs. Hughes teaches many different pieces of literature to her students. Her favorite book to teach is “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, a collection of stories about soldiers in the Vietnam War. She loves how the stories can connect to people in subtle ways and how the author describes how we all live through stories. However, she does not have a favorite book to read herself. She says that would be like choosing a favorite child!

While Mrs. Hughes does not have a favorite book, she does have a favorite TV show and favorite place to travel. She really enjoys the improv comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” Her favorite place to travel is Poland. She has a 13-year-old son.

Mrs. Hughes wanted to become a teacher after she took an education class at Brandeis University and found it instantly interesting. She loved her foreign language and English classes in high school. She says her teachers were both challenging and fun. 

In a year many students and teachers have found challenging, Mrs. Hughes says her students have had a great impact on her. One of her favorite moments this year was seeing a student who was extremely shy overcome her fear of public speaking and give one of the best student speeches that she has ever seen. Another was coming back to school after being very ill for a few weeks; one of her classes made her a giant card with all of their names and many get-well messages. She still has the card!

Life’s a Beach (and Ocean) for Ms. Emerson

By Ashley Stracco, ’24

Staff Writer

Ms. Shayle Emerson teaches college prep Biology, Marine Biology, and honors Anatomy and Physiology at Hanover High School. Her favorite class to teach is Marine Biology because she loves to take students on field trips to explore the beaches and to see the aquarium in Boston. You can find her in room 215!

Born in Salem, NH, Ms. Emerson graduated from the University of New Hampshire. She played intramural sports including field hockey. One summer, she was able to take a scientific diver course at the Isle of Shoals for two weeks, and it was an amazing experience.  She became a teacher because she wanted to teach students about the ocean and the animals that live in it.

Her favorite television show is currently “WandaVision,” but she also likes to watch YouTube. Her favorite book is The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger, a true story about a swordfishing boat that gets trapped in the storm of the century.

Ms. Emerson’s favorite memory from high school is playing the trumpet in the band because it was huge and she had a lot of friends in it. They participated in many marching competitions, and tons of parades. Her band marched in the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, and also went to Disney!

She loves to travel, and has been to Paris and, recently, the Dominican Republic. She also visits Anchorage, Alaska, frequently because her twin sister lives there. She has three daughters, ages 11, 8, and 3.

In February 2020, Ms. Emerson launched a school trip to the Dominican Republic – and she’ll be doing it again next year! On the trip, students work with local organizations to clean beaches and restore coral reef. Each day begins around 7am, and you will not go to bed until after 11pm. The people in the DR were very kind and caring and the country was perfectly safe, she said. There is music playing everywhere you go there. It was an amazing experience, so stop by to see her or send her an email if you’d like to learn more.

Mrs. Stukenborg Has Compassion Down to a Science

By Natalie Mowbray, ’22

Staff Writer

Mrs. Kelly Stukenborg has been Hanover High School’s assistant principal since October 2018. Whether they’re sent to her office or see her in the halls, students know they will be greeted by a compassionate person who clearly takes pride in our school.

Where did you grow up and attend college? 

I grew up in Weymouth, where I currently live! After high school, I attended Saint Michaels University in Vermont.

What was your college experience like? 

It was crazy! I was a biology major. Originally, I was on the Pre-Medical track and intended to become a doctor. I was very active in helping my professors with their research or working with local social agencies to help bring about social change in Burlington, Vermont.  While playing college soccer, I broke my back in two places. I had to work really hard in my coursework because I had to take a year off to recover from two surgeries to correct my fractured lower back.  I did it, though, and graduated with my class. 

What inspired you to become a teacher and later an assistant principal?

In my senior year in college, I had to teach a class on the case studies of Hippocrates and Galen (ancient Greeks).  After I taught the class, my advisor told me that I should be a teacher.  She had me teach some biology labs that year and I loved it.  After college, I went right into graduate school to get my master’s degree in biology and education at Northeastern University and then I started teaching in Brockton.  As an educator, I naturally gravitated to leadership roles and in 2006 became a science department head at North Quincy High School.  After that, I went to Weymouth High School where I was a dean for a year and then their Assistant Principal.

What classes did you teach in the past before becoming an assistant principal? I have taught biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, integrated science, and biological anthropology.

Where did you teach before coming to HHS?

 I have taught in Brockton, Quincy, and Weymouth.

What are your hobbies outside of school and what do you/your family do for fun?

I have a husband named Brian, who I met during college. I also have a daughter named Maeve, who is 18 years old, and a son named Shane, who is 16. I play in adult soccer leagues and, during the pandemic, I have taken up needlepoint.

What is your favorite part about teaching/being an assistant principal?  Helping others.

‘The Play’s The Thing’ for Mr. Fahey

By Norah Kelley, ’24

Staff Writer

For three years, Mr. Collin Fahey has been the technical theater and public speaking teacher at Hanover High, along with directing the HHS musicals and plays. Before Mr. Fahey was a teacher in Hanover, he taught at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. He was a part of their teaching fellow program, where he taught intro to drama and honors drama for one year. 

Born in Brockton, Mr. Fahey earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. If he couldn’t be a teacher, he said,  he would be some kind of performer or writer. “Any form of performance, really: stand up comedy; acting onstage or on camera; writing, recording and performing music,” he explained. “I’ve (also) always loved English, reading, coming up with short stories and writing poetry.”

Mr. Fahey has directed seven plays and musicals at Hanover High, but if he had to pick his favorite, he would say it was At the Bottom of Lake Missoula by Ed Monk, presented two years ago for the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG)  Festival. “It was very special, as it was my first play I directed for HHS and it was the first time HHS moved on to the semi-final round in the competition.”

Like many other things this year, the drama program has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The biggest loss for drama this year came with the cancellation of our annual fall musical,” he said. Instead, Mr. Fahey and the Drama Club have had to find creative ways to continue to spread the joy of the arts. They have, through songs and monologues presented virtually with the rest of the performing arts department in the PRISM concert and holiday showcase.

The program is also preparing for this year’s METG Festival. The annual daylong competition, which Hanover High has hosted in recent years, brings schools from around the region to compete in hopes of advancing to a state final. This year, each school’s one-act play will be filmed and submitted. The HHS Drama Club will be performing 4A.M. by Jonathan Dorf, which focuses on different students and what they do and think in the early hours of the morning. 

“Although this year has its challenges, HHS drama is up for the task and excited at the prospects!” Mr. Fahey said. “I’m incredibly proud of the work students have done thus far, and I’m extremely grateful to continue to have the opportunity to create and collaborate here at HHS!”

Mr. Fahey feels a deep connection with the students he works with.  “To all drama students, past and present,” he said. “I appreciate you all so much, don’t be a stranger!”

Mrs. McCusker: Reading is Key to her History

By Tim Sullivan

Mrs. McCusker’s love for books goes beyond simply reading in her free time. When she was a student in high school, she had her own personal “library” and would lend books to her friends! She went to Apponequet High School in Lakeville, a place she says has nothing but “farmers and cranberry bogs.” She spent most of her time in high school playing field hockey, basketball and softball.

Mrs. McCusker didn’t always want to be a teacher. She originally thought she wanted to do something directly related to books, majoring in business at Syracuse University. She worked in retail after graduation and eventually went back to school to get her Master’s degree in history and library science. After working as a librarian in Newton, she had a connection in Hanover and became the librarian for Center/Sylvester Elementary School. She was the Hanover High School librarian for many years, and then became a history teacher. Currently, she teaches junior World History and senior Humanities.

Along with her love for books, Mrs. McCusker loves history. She enjoys reading and speaking about it, and wakes up every day excited to share her passion with her students. Instead of focusing on facts and figures alone, she would rather make connections through history and create an environment in her classroom where students feel like they can “communicate and share ideas (and) voice their opinions.” She wants her students to leave her class prepared for college, skilled in taking notes, writing, synthesizing information and identifying main ideas.

Mrs. McCusker is married to a Curry College professor and has two children. She spends a lot of her free time on the sidelines watching her children play sports and she loves it, especially soccer. Her favorite television show is called “Men in Blazers,” a British broadcast of soccer highlights. She loves to travel with her family and usually starts her summers off that way. Both she and her husband don’t “do well” with summer, she said; they like having a schedule. After they travel, visit with family, and make a few trips to the Museum of Fine Arts, they get pretty bored. Mrs. McCusker tries to take a new class each summer as she believes it’s important to keep learning as you are teaching. Last year, she studied Islamic Art, and the year before, it was Colonial Africa. She takes pride in knowing the World History classes she teaches today touch on a wide range of places and not just the European and American history she learned in high school.

One of her favorite days of the year is September 1st, right before school begins. She thinks it’s sort of like a “second New Year’s Day,” another opportunity for a fresh start; most jobs don’t come with this luxury. Over the years, she’s found inspiration from her close friend and colleague, retired English teacher Mr. Hopkins, admiring the way he always sees the positive in everyone and believes every day is a new day. Mr. Hopkins would never say a bad thing about anybody, Mrs. McCusker said, and that is how she wants to live her life. She also pointed out that even though he taught a lot of the same material for over 30 years, he would never complain about reteaching the same book, instead, he saw the best in it and found something new about it every time.

Mr. Brown: Dedicated Teacher, Coach & Athlete

By Matthew O’Hara

Mr. Brown teaches World History and Global Studies to Juniors and Seniors at Hanover High School. While teaching, Mr. Brown uses his charisma to combine learning and fun so as to captivate his students and make them excited to learn. This also makes his class one of the most enjoyable to be in, as his easy-going and fun personality can relieve the stress of difficult assignments. This has made him one of the most well liked and renown teachers at HHS.

After graduating from Rockland High School in 1991, Mr. Brown attended Norwich University. Mr. Brown knew he had a passion for teaching, so he majored in Elementary Education because of  his own fond memories of his kindergarten experiences. After college, he enlisted in the United States Army, an experience that would change his life and career path for years to come. Life in the army was different from life at home for Mr. Brown. Instead of helping his dad paint houses, he went into combat, and was forced to overcome his fear of heights many times when he was required to deploy mid-air from planes. While military life was difficult, Mr. Brown enjoyed the opportunity to serve as a mentor to new recruits. It was this experience that later convinced him to choose to teach high school  instead of elementary school. After returning home from the military, Mr. Brown became a wrestling coach for Rockland High School, and later taught fitness classes at Park and Rec. He became a teacher at Hanover High School in 2002.

Outside of school, Mr. Brown is a devoted father who cares for his family and enjoys attending his three kids’ school- and sports-related events.  He has a passion for exercise and fitness, renting out a building in Rockland to teach exercise classes and to train athletes. He serves as an instructor, as well as a student, at a Brazilian jiu jitsu gym in Weymouth. Mr. Brown enjoys learning under his jiu jitsu teacher Dedeco, as it gives him insight on how it feels for an athlete to practice under the mentorship of a coach. He then applies this knowledge in his own coaching. He also adheres to a 10:00 pm bedtime, so that he can get enough sleep every single night.

Mr. Brown has coached a variety of teams during his long and successful career at Hanover High School, including Lacrosse and Wrestling in his early years, and Track and Field and Cross Country today. As a coach, Mr. Brown most enjoys seeing his athletes improve each year, and has made it his mission to help every single one of his athletes achieve their personal best. During his tenure as a wrestling coach, Mr. Brown coached 10 wrestling state champions, 20 sectional champions, and one New England champion. Mr. Brown takes pride in the fact that two of his athletes have recently achieved the honor of League MVP, one for Cross Country and the other for Track and Field. Mr. Brown finds these many achievements astounding, and he is proud of his student-athletes’ hard work and dedication.

It’s evident that Mr. Brown is a hardworking and passionate teacher and coach who will do anything in his power to see his students and athletes succeed and achieve their best.

Mrs. Pereira: HHS Students’ Biggest Cheerleader

Mrs. Pereira always knew she wanted to be a teacher. The hard part was figuring out what to teach and who to teach it to. She started her journey at UMass Dartmouth as a math major but then began to worry about what she would do with her major if she decided teaching wasn’t for her. She always wanted to have a backup plan, and so instead of majoring in math, she switched to accounting. If she didn’t like teaching, she thought, she could become an accountant. Lucky for us at Hanover High School, Mrs. P decided to teach older students because she knew she wanted kids of her own and thought it might be too much having little kids at home and at work. She is now in her 19th year at HHS, teaching business classes such as Marketing and Management and Accounting along with co-leading the Internship Program. Every year, Mrs. P also works hard to put on the “Credit for Life Fair” at HHS. This event helps students learn to make smart and safe decisions when saving, spending, and budgeting their money for the future.  

Mrs. Pereira in High School

Competitive cheerleading took up most of Mrs. P’s time at Somerset High School. Her team was ranked ninth in the country and even made an appearance on ESPN! (Fun fact: Mr. Perry and Mr. Faria also went to Somerset High School.) In addition to cheerleading, Mrs. P was involved in gymnastics, “The Future Teachers of America Club,” and National Honor Society.

Mrs. P strives to create an environment in her classroom where her students not only master the content but also work toward becoming a good person. Mrs. P wants her students to know that she genuinely cares about them, and can relate, understand and sympathize with them because of her own experiences. As funny as it sounds, Mrs. P means it when she says, “When I’m at school, you guys are my kids.”

Mrs. P has a lot going on in her life, and, like many teachers, her life is a constant balancing act between being a Mom and a Teacher. Luckily, she loves being busy and hates to be bored. She has a long commute to work every day from Fall River, and that gives her a lot of time in the car. She loves the time in the morning to wake up but can’t stand the ride home; as a result, she does very little driving on the weekends. In the summer, Mrs. P enjoys camping with her husband and three children: Olivia, Lila, and Georgia. Camping definitely isn’t for everyone, but spending a week in the outdoors with her family is one of the most relaxing places for Mrs. P. When she isn’t pitching a tent in the wilderness, her favorite travel spot is Maui, Hawaii. As far as her favorite things, she loves to exercise and is working to make that a priority again in her busy life. Mrs. P loves music and how it can make you feel different emotions or bring you back to a certain time in your life. She doesn’t really have a favorite food, but would much rather have real food then some type of dessert or candy.

Over the course of growing up, becoming a mother and going through life’s experiences, Mrs. P has found inspiration in different places. When she was a teenager, she looked up to her cheer coach who had two small children, a career, a coaching job, and had also gone back to school. She admired her drive and her success. As she got older, she grew to admire her grandmother, who had a very difficult life and yet raised 10 children mostly on her own. She didn’t understand how remarkable that was until she was a mom herself. Now that she’s older, there are so many people Mrs. P admires.

“I admire my own daughter who made the change from a small private school to a larger public middle school,” she said. “Middle school is not an easy time to be the new kid. And yet she’s running for student government. I admire her courage. I admire so many of my students for all of their accomplishments, big or small. I love hearing from them after they graduate. I admire other parents who have raised amazing kids. I admire people who persevere through some of the most heartbreaking, unimaginable events. I admire people who work hard, whether to do their jobs well or to make important changes in their lives.”  

Mrs. Pereira always has a smiling face in Room 205 and, as students, we all appreciate the energy and drive she brings to work every day. When asked to describe Mrs. P using only one word, some of her students responded with the words below:

Relatable, Generous, Funny, Real, Mom, Cop, Driven, Determined, Therapist, Heartwarming, Caring, Honest, Outgoing, Inspiring, Thoughtful, Kind

Ms. Turner: Five Shows a Day!

TURNER  Ms.Turnertheatre-spotlight-hi

Teacher Spotlight

Kristen Plahn & Chris Acampora

This week’s teacher spotlight is on Ms. Diane Turner, the hilarious freshmen English teacher. Before becoming a teacher she was the Assistant Director of Advertising and Public Relations for Coldwell Banker in Massachusetts and also worked in Jack Conway Co. Real Estate. After years of working there she decided to go to the University of Massachusetts in Boston and then to Cambridge College to get her master’s in education. She is here at Hanover High School today because one of her professors told her she should teach high school English because high school students can analyze literature in a way that younger students cannot.

“I like to think I do 5 shows a day”

Ms. Turner likes seeing the desire to learn in her students. She loves seeing their enthusiasm and their ability to enjoy reading and learning. If you enjoy her class, you probably agree with Ms. Turner who says, “I do five shows a day.” There are some students who might have strayed from their capabilities like the time Ms. Turner gave a vocab quiz and a student taped the answers on the back of the person in front of her without their knowledge!

“I love the water”

Aside from teaching, Ms. Turner loves the water, and wishes to own a houseboat, since being on the water is second nature to her. She also has two dogs, Cody and Maddy, who will do just about anything for food. One time, she had a friend who had leftovers from a restaurant on the kitchen table and Cody ended up eating everything, paper and all. Her favorite book is “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and her second favorite is “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. If you are lucky enough to be in her class this year, then you will definitely have a lot of fun!



Mr. Miller: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

While sitting in the library one day, working less than diligently on my VHS work, I saw Mr. Ralph Miller walk into the library as he does every day during his free period to read the Boston Globe.  I was anxious for an interview with the only man who has taught at Hanover High since the opening of the old high school in 1958. Teacher interviews are a common occurrence for The HHS Indian; however, I had the opportunity to speak with the man who has had the most teaching and life experience  of any our past interviewees.

Sadly, many of us lack the opportunity to get to know Mr. Miller. Substitute teachers and their temporary students have little time to sit down for a conversation, like I had the privilege of doing last week.  I discovered there is so much more to this man, whom I previously envisaged as a the man who calls every student “princess.”  I began by asking him about his teaching career.  Turns our that Mr. Miller was a biology teacher before he retired and became a substitute.  I asked him what he felt was the biggest classroom change from the glory days of the old school to the new school.  Miller replied by saying, “The focus is more on the students.  The students have more power in the classroom than they used to.” I asked if there were any particular students who stood out over the years as being exceptionally intelligent or rambunctious.  He shook his head and gave a laugh, “I don’t even know what your name is.” When I asked what he felt was the best quality for a student to have, he replied “I like the students who pay attention.”

It goes without saying that Mr. Miller is an experienced teacher, but as I began to ask him a few personal questions, I realized there was a depth in the man as thick as the books he reads during class. Prior to teaching, he attended Boston University and spent some time in the military.  Also, Mr. Miller is a world traveler.  In fact, he is so well versed in travel that he speaks of his experiences nonchalantly, as if his adventures were as common as a trip to Lake Winnipesaukee.  He shared with me a few of his travel stories, including his walk along the Great Wall of China and a rather unpleasant passage across the Strait of Gibraltar.  His favorite destinations have been Paris and London because “they are cities that you can get lost in and explore.”

I heard from his colleague, Mr. Hopkins, that Mr. Miller is quite the romantic.  I decided to test this theory by asking Mr. Miller about his wife.  “How long have you been married?” I asked.  A smile crept across his face, “Do you really want to know?”  “Yes, please”.  The smile stayed as he answered:  “50 years.”  I paused in amazement.  When I asked him if there was any secret to being married that long, he stopped and thought for a moment.  Miller looked up at me with glowing eyes, “No, no secret.  She’s just . . .  the one.” He said it as though the term “the one” were brand-new and created only to describe his precious wife.  “She must be lovely,” I remarked.  To this, he gave a thoughtful nod.  I also discovered that Mr. Miller has three children and one granddaughter.  Through questioning him I learned that this man has as much love for the rest of his family as he does for his wife.  Describing his granddaughter Anna, he said,  “She’s so sweet, beautiful, and so outspoken.”  He then added, “Such a princess.”

This led me to ask my final question.  “Mr. Miller, why do you call all students princess?”  With his thick Boston accent he replied, “Because they are.”