Category Archives: Teacher Spotlight

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.”


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.