Category Archives: Teacher Spotlight

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.”


Mrs. Katsilieris Loves Languages, Dreams of the Beach

Mrs. Katsilieris, also known by her students as Mrs. Kats, is one of the foreign language teachers up on the third floor. She started teaching 20 years ago in Boston Public Schools and came to Hanover High School in 2002. She went to Emmanuel College for her bachelor’s degree and ENC for her master’s degree.

While she was in high school, her favorite subjects were always the foreign languages she learned. Mrs. Kats’ favorite language is Italian because of the “beautiful sounds, and every word ends in a vowel.” She can also speak and teach Spanish and Greek

Shipwreck Beach, in Greece, is Mrs. Katsilieris' favorite.
Shipwreck Beach, in Greece, is Mrs. Kats’ favorite.

Mrs. Kats loves cooking, gardening and going for walks on the beach. She has been to beaches all over the world, but her favorite is Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos, Greece. She plans to return there this summer.

Once Mrs. Kats retires, she wants to open a European cafe. Her favorite country to visit is Greece, and she visits all the time. Her favorite food is lobster.

She has been married for 35 years and has three children




Ms. Fay: Read-a-holic, Pop Culture Fan!

You all know Ms. Fay, am I right? The awesome English teacher with passion and soul for teaching. Well, she started to teach at Hanover High School in 2003, but going even further back, she taught middle schoolers right when 9/11 had happened.

“I will always remember that year not because it was my first year of teaching, but because I had to  try and keep a room full of eighth graders from panicking after they heard that America was under attack,” Ms. Fay said.

That commitment to her students has made Ms. Fay one of the most popular teachers here. She actually cares about the well-being of her students instead of just walking in and giving lectures all day long.

Before Ms. Fay was a teacher, she had the following jobs to keep herself going: copy editor, medical transcriptionist, executive assistant, and, one of the most difficult jobs, a stay-at-home mother. She said that she could’ve gone right into teaching when she came out of college, but she wanted to have a family and devote all of her time to raising her family as best as she could.

Ms. Fay says that she always has some sort of an adventure each day, and that is her favorite part of teaching at HHS. “I really never know what the day is going to bring. Each time I step foot into this school it’s an adventure waiting to happen. Each day has the potential to be amazing!” And she’s not kidding. With more than 700 students roaming the building, each day will always bring something unpredictable.

Speaking of the students, Ms. Fay has some advice for graduating seniors. She says that they should take every opportunity given to them, especially when it comes to improving their quality of life.  Career-wise, she says that you should never place yourself in a profession where there is absolutely zero passion for it. “Find out what it is you love to do and then do it — even if you have to change your major three or four times to get there!” she said.

When she’s not teaching students, or helping her kids at home, Ms. Fay is either watching television, reading, or planning her next family trip to Disney. Some of Ms. Fay’s favorite shows include “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (quite the obvious one), “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “Modern Family,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Grimm.” She is also calls herself a “read-a-holic.” She reads about one book a week — imagine that! She also does soccer, kickboxing, and yoga..

Ms. Bertelli has Music (and a Love of Comics) in her Heart

Kate Bertelli, the vibrant music teacher, has always had music on her mind. It’s been quite the passion of hers, due to the “awesome educators and role models” she’s had over the years. With the encouragement of those instructors, and a little help from her mother as well, she found her way into teaching. But teaching wasn’t always her first priority.

 Ms. Bertelli had multiple “odd jobs” (even though they weren’t really all that odd) throughout her high school and college years before looking at an opportunity to teach middle school. She worked as a secretary in a law firm, waited tables, and plenty of other things having something to do with some form of leadership. When Ms. Bertelli found a teaching position, it was in East Bridgewater, where she spent three years before joining the HHS faculty in 2012.

 “I’ve met so many great students and parents while in Hanover,” Ms. Bertelli said. “I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know them, and be a part of their lives.”

Ms. Bertelli seems like a very busy woman, teaching music and leading Concert Chorus, VOX, Corporation, and Chorale — as well as meeting with the Friends of Hanover Music booster group. But this doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have any sort of down time.

When Ms. Bertelli has that precious time to herself, she is usually exercising or reading. She’ll go out for a walk on the Cape Cod Canal. She also really likes to grill outside with her family. Her cooking will usually include some sort of “healthier alternative,” although there are only so many “healthy” options with nachos, brownies, et cetera. She’ll sit down to read either some blogs or Marvel comics. She’s quite the fan of the Marvel comics and movies, so she’s definitely excited to see “Captain America” in theatres (don’t give her any spoilers!).

 Ms. Bertelli doesn’t have any advice for the graduating senior class. However, she usually has a song or two up her sleeve. She says that “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)” (AKA: The Sunscreen Song) by Baz Luhrmann offers a lot of good advice. Enjoy it!

 If I have any advice for you, it’s that you need to join any music ensemble she runs. Ms. Bertelli is very optimistic and fun to work with, speaking from two years of experience with her. So, if you can sing, don’t be afraid. Just sign up for her classes, and have fun!


Learning Your Teacher: Mr. Amonte

Mr. Amonte, the Probability and Statistics teacher, up on the third floor, is a teacher all because of a simple opportunity. When he was originally a plumber, he unfortunately got laid off, which gave him a choice. He explored his career opportunities to become a math teacher, something he had always wanted to be. Before coming to Hanover High School, he taught at Granite Academy, a private school in Braintree.

“It has been a very nice experience to come to a great school system like Hanover,” he said. “The staff has welcomed me and I have a positive interaction with everyone I have met from the high school.”

Mr. Amonte had always wanted to be an educator. He worked construction in the summers to pay for college, which eventually led to getting his plumbing license.

As we all know, the class of 2014 is graduating very soon. We look to teachers and other peers for some advice. Mr. Amonte simply says, “Adults have to be adults. Youth can choose to act like adults or just be kids.”

He advises students not to try to grow up too fast. “I would choose to be a kid for as long as possible”, he said.

You’re always going to want to have your inner child, having some fun in your life. Therefore, when he is not teaching here, or correcting students’ work, he enjoys spending time with his family.

Mr. Amonte is a fabulous new edition to the High School, at least in my opinion. He can keep the kids’ attention and he knows when to be serious.

Learning Your Teacher: Mr. Perry

Mr. Perry is a social studies teacher here at Hanover High School. This year, he teaches AP US History and Senior Humanities Seminar. In addition to teaching, Mr. Perry also coaches Cross Country in the fall and Track in the spring with Mr. Brown. Below is a transcript of an interview with him.

What is your favorite part about teaching at HHS?

Well, first of all, my most favorite part of teaching is working with kids. Secondly, I really enjoy US History. We have such an interesting and rich history. I enjoy sharing my love of US History with my students.

Do you have any advice for students once they graduate from HHS?

When I was a graduating senior, I lacked confidence in myself which prevented me from pursuing the paths I wanted to pursue at the time (baseball player, acting, politician). Today, I advise my students to follow their passion and not to let anything or anybody get in their way of achieving their dream.

What is your most memorable teaching experience?

During my 17-year career I have had many memorable teaching experiences in the classroom. So many in fact, it’s difficult to name just one. I’ve also had many memorable experiences outside the classroom especially when traveling with students to Europe.

Why did you go into the field of teaching?

Well, teaching was never a thought when I graduated from high school. However, in 1994, after my dad’s sudden death, I decided to change my career path from sales to teaching. I have never regretted my decision. Yet another life lesson that no matter how sad or difficult a situation might be, something positive can come from it if you’re open to it and work hard to achieve it.

Learning Your Teacher: Mr. DePatto

Mr. DePatto
Mr. DePatto

Mr. DePatto, the Earth Science and Environmental Science teacher on the second floor, has been teaching for 34 years. He started out in private schools in ’79-’80, and then taught in public schools from the ’90s to the present. Always a lover of science, he’s taught everything from conceptual physics to oceanography (his personal favorite). Jacques Cousteau, the famed 20th century undersea explorer, inspired him to study ocean life through Couseau’s widely acknowledged television program. “The ocean is a whole new world, beneath the surface lies another world,” Mr. DePatto commented.

However, his initial drive was not to become a science teacher.  One thing that may not be known about Mr. DePatto is that he originally held off going to college, opting to instead head off to the workforce. During that time, he recalled, he felt a pang of envy toward his former classmates and close friends who attended college. In the end, he decided to attend the former Boston State College to earn a degree in education. “As a young person, I was very athletic, played team sports in high school and college, so my first goal was that I was going to be a teacher, a Phys Ed teacher, or a coach,”  Mr. DePatto said. His ambitions changed when he took oceanography electives in college, discovering a new passion. He thus changed his major from a physical education to science.

Earlier in his career, he would consistently volunteer at the New England Aquarium due to his passion for oceanography. “I used to work there behind the scenes, at the GOT, which is the ‘Giant Ocean Tank.’ You could get in there; you could feed the sharks and all the different specimens.  It was just a wonderful experience.” The sharks swam with the fish, he explained, and were specifically over-fed, in case an unfortunate viewer fell in. Moreover, behind the shining and pristine glass tank lies an immense amount of work that many visitors don’t see. “Behind the scenes you see how much work it is to make sure that tanks are clean, that specimens are safe. Water temperature’s important, acidity’s important, making sure that everything’s just balanced is a lot of work. I loved it there, absolutely loved it there, and if anybody wants to volunteer and see a different world, the people are great behind the scenes.”

Advice for high school students? “Kids going to college, it’s hard. Kids might not know what they want to do for college, so they’ll leave high school, they become a freshman in college, and sometimes they do know what they want and it’s great, but you have to stick to it because there’s gonna be bumps in the road, highs and lows.” He said that attitude is important, that if you want something, you have to work for it. “You have to set goals, and don’t let anything roadblock you.” He switched majors in college, and described that it was kind of difficult making a transition due to the extra new courses and more hard work. “But when you believe in something, and you love something, you know, [have] the passion and the desire, you must have the commitment with it, because if you don’t have that commitment before your passions and desires, those goals won’t be achieved.” His advice for high school students would be: talk to people, never say “no,” seek out the older and more experienced, never quit, always be relentless, and know that there’s always a way to obtain your goal. Although things might not happen right when you want them to, it’s important to keep pursuing your goals and dreams. “If you’re determined, you’ll find a way,” he remarked. In essence, if you want something and really aspire toward it, hard work and determination will get you there.

If you’re interested in volunteering at the NEA, a click HERE for a link to their website and information on how to get involved.