New teacher spotlight 2023 – 2024

This year, CHS is home to over 20 new teachers across a spectrum of subjects. Whether in the foreign languages department, Chantilly Academy, library or science department, each teacher is adjusting to their new teaching environment.
Spanish teacher Elisabeth Rosario gives instructions for an assignment to her fifth period Spanish class.
Spanish teacher Elisabeth Rosario gives instructions for an assignment to her fifth period Spanish class.
Huda Noorzai
English Teacher Sarah Hartley picks out some books to read.
Sarah Hartley

English teacher Sarah Hartley is a new addition to the CHS community. Hartley  previously worked in Arlington County and at Justice High School in FCPS.

What made you pick CHS to teach at? 

I was previously working in Arlington, and as people started returning back from the pandemic back into the office, my commute got really insane. Chantilly is really close to 

where I live, and it’s a very good school.

What’s your favorite thing about teaching English and why did you pick it?

My favorite thing about teaching English is that I like that no matter what you do in life,as a student you have to know how to communicate. T/here’s a purpose in it and it’s something that students need to know how to do. Also, I was an avid reader growing up, and I always love reading. I thought it would be fun to be able to teach students to do this 

Where did you get your undergraduate degree?

I went to Mercer University in Pennsylvania. I went there for my undergrad, and then I got my masters at George Mason.

What made you want to teach English Language Learners?

When I was in college, I majored in teaching students with English as a second language. First of all, I always wanted to teach overseas, so I’ve taught in a few places overseas, doing that.  I love getting to know other cultures outside of my own, and I feel like with teaching ESL students, I really get to do that. I think it’s fun to learn about them.

Could you talk about your time teaching overseas?

Most recently, I taught in Beijing for a little while. I only did it for a few months, so it’s not that amazing, but it was definitely a really cool experience. I’ve also taught in other Hispanic areas. My first school, 86% of the school spoke Spanish, so almost everybody was speaking English as their secondary language. The other high school I taught at was extremely diverse. We had backgrounds from all over the world and it was one of the biggest ESL programs in Fairfax County. It was just really neat getting all their different stories.

Are you bilingual?

I am not bilingual. I took Spanish while growing up for 10 years, but I would not say that I’m fluent. I can understand and kind of communicate in it. The thing that’s interesting is that I teach ELLs here, too, but they’re not predominantly one culture. They’re from all over.

English Teacher Sarah Hartley picks out some books to read. (Amanda Yesin)
Marketing teacher Sam Jonsson helps juniors Emerson Mustard and Peter Tran.
Sam Jonsson

Marketing teacher Sam Jonsson is in her 13th year of teaching. She spent most of her career at West Springfield High School. Jonsson has taught most of the marketing courses that FCPS offers, as well as Leadership/SGA and Athletic Leadership. She currently teaches Entrepreneurship 1 DE and Sports & Entertainment Marketing as well as serving as a DECA advisor. She likes to spend time with her family whenever she can.  

Why did you choose this profession, and what inspired you?

I had many teachers throughout my life that left a lasting impact on me.  I was always drawn to the profession because I saw the difference a caring teacher could make on someone’s life.  I took marketing all four years in high school and was a DECA member/competitor, so I went on to study marketing in college.  When it was time for me to decide what my next steps would be after college, I realized I really wanted to pursue teaching, and teaching marketing was the perfect mix of my academic studies and my career interests.  

What is your favorite part about your job?

Definitely my students. One of the best parts of what I do is building relationships with students and helping to guide them, support them and teach them valuable skills for their future.  I often find that I learn from my students, too. 

How do you help your students express their creativity?

In marketing, this is really important. Students need to stretch themselves creatively, think outside the box and be problem solvers.  One thing I often tell my students when they are starting an assignment is “don’t search Google for ideas.”  I really want them to dig into their minds and pull out those creative ideas.  I know they’re in there; kids are so creative. 

Do you ever lean on different resources to help the business wing of the school?

The FCPS marketing teacher community is amazing and I absolutely lean on my fellow marketing teachers both here at Chantilly HS and throughout the county.  We often share ideas for lessons, current events that are relevant to our classes, and more.  I am always looking for ways to improve and I love taking suggestions and ideas from my colleagues.  

What is your teaching style?

Marketing classes are project-based, so incorporating project-based learning in the classroom is definitely a key part of my teaching style.  I think it really gives students an opportunity to apply their learning to real world situations.  Relationship building is really important to me as I find that students are more successful and work hard when we have a positive relationship and they trust me.   

What defines your success?

When my students feel safe in our classroom, feel respected for who they are and what they bring to our classroom, and are demonstrating that they are learning what I am teaching, that’s a win for me. 

Marketing teacher Sam Jonsson helps juniors Emerson Mustard and Peter Tran. (Aniket Saxena)
Biology teacher Jennie Lee writes notes about glycogen for her fifth period AP Biology class.
Jennie Lee

Entering her eighth year of teaching, Jennie Lee joined the biology department from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She currently teaches Biology 1 Honors and AP Biology. In her free time, she enjoys crocheting, playing video games and watching Korean dramas.

Why did you decide to come to CHS?

I decided to come to Chantilly because it is closer to my house and commuting was a big factor. Previously, I worked at Justice, which is sort of outside of the county, and then also worked at TJ which is down the street from Justice. Another big factor was that my daughter wanted to come to Chantilly, so it seemed like the right decision to come here.

What got you into teaching?

I realized I needed a summer break. I became a teacher because adults don’t get summer. It was actually more for childcare purposes and it’s really expensive. Trying to put three kids in childcare during summer was impossible because I made, like, $15 an hour. There’s just no way I can afford it, so my choices were either take my paycheck and hand it off to a daycare, or pick a job that had summers off. I always had taught bio because that was my interest.

Did you have any other careers you wanted to do?

Originally going into college, I was thinking that I would do pre-med since I was a chemistry major. Then I learned that there was a lot of math involved. Then I took microbiology and loved it. I switched my major to bio with the hope of going to medical school.  As I met more people that actually went to medical school, I’m like, “Oh, we’re not we’re not the same kind of people, right?” Then I decided to try to go into lab research and then got a job as a lab tech. 

What is your favorite and least favorite part about teaching?

I think it’s getting to know the kids. They are very interesting students. My least favorite is all the random paperwork. Grading isn’t even the worst of it; it is the little random forms and such. 

What is your favorite biology class to teach?

I’ve taught all the spectrums of bio, like regular bio, honors bio, AP Bio, IB bio years one and two. I think IB bio is my favorite because it is over two years. You get really into it, and because it’s two years, you end up getting the same students for two years. Some of them I have for three years because I had them for freshmen,so then we ended up having a really close community.

What is your background?

I was through FCPS from the start: I started at Headstart, which is like a preschool. Then I graduated from Braddock Secondary where I went all six years. After, I went to George Mason and have stayed here ever since.

Biology teacher Jennie Lee writes notes about glycogen for her fifth period AP Biology class. (Athula Cheboli)
The Dental Careers teacher Christina Martin shows her class a diagram of a tooth on the SmartBoard.
Christina Martin

Previously working as a director of operations for multiple dental practices, dental careers teacher Christina Martin joins the teaching staff as a first time teacher. Her passion for dental as well as teaching has made this job a perfect fit, according to Martin. 

What is your teaching background prior to your current job?
My teaching background is more in the business side of it, so this is my first teaching position. But I worked a few years before this as director of operations with multiple practices. I worked with assistants, dental hygienists, new doctors that were coming in, and I trained them on how the office ran, so making sure everyone was doing things in the same way, and that’s how I kind of fell in love with teaching. I was like, “Oh, I like this.” I had a lot of fun working with patients, but I was like, “this is kind of great too.”

Is there anything specific that brought you to Chantilly?

I really didn’t even know this existed until I saw the job posting, and it was almost meant to be because I knew I wanted to teach. I just thought I’d be in a dental hygiene program, because that was the extent of what I knew. When I saw this job pop up, I knew I had to apply because I took this course in high school in Michigan; it was the same two year program. When I saw we had it here–which I didn’t know existed–I was like, “this is even better; I would love to do this even more than teaching dental hygiene,” which is what I thought I would do.

What are your first impressions of the academy?

Chantilly has been amazing. The minute that I walked in, I could sense the positivity and just how vibrant everybody was. The atmosphere is just filled with enthusiasm, collaboration and just like a sense of camaraderie, and everyone’s always smiling. It’s been nothing but friendly interactions, and it’s made me feel instantly welcomed.

What was your dream job as a kid?

Actually, being in the dental field was always my dream job. In middle school, I went to a summer camp at the career tech school and you got to try out the different classes. They had all the same stuff that Chantilly Academy has, so we got to do a cooking course; there was a business one where you ran a local store. There was everything that we offer here and one of them was the dental one, so I took a week-long summer camp and I loved it so much. I went back the next three summers that I could go and I just stuck with it. In sixth grade was when I knew I was going into dental. 

You said you haven’t done any teaching in high school before coming to the academy, so how has your first teaching experience been?

It’s been good; I’ve really enjoyed it. Because it’s so career focused and I have an understanding of what the class already is, because I’ve taken it, I feel like I can just kind of jump in and be like, “this is what we do, and this is how dental works.”

What are some of your favorite things about teaching so far?

My favorite things about teaching are really getting to know the kids, getting to know what their long term goals are and to help them be excited about it and figure out what they want to do, even if it’s not dental. It’s been really great just getting to know what everybody’s doing and showing them how exciting dental can be.

The Dental Careers teacher Christina Martin shows her class a diagram of a tooth on the SmartBoard. (Nadia Corea)
English teacher Stephen Robak prepares for his next class during his planning period.
Stephen Robak

With years of teaching under his belt, English teacher Stephen Robak is entering his first year at CHS. He looks forward to connecting with his students through literature.

How did you get into teaching?

The short answer is that a lot of my family are also in teaching and education. My mom was a special education teacher for 25 years. I have two cousins who are college professors, and they all seem to enjoy working with students and love what they teach. Their examples kind of inspired me to look into teaching English.

Did you enjoy English as a child?

I was actually more of a math and science person, and English is frustrating because there are a lot of different interpretations. I was always more rigid where I just wanted one right answer. That’s changed, obviously.

Where did you teach before CHS?

I taught at a few schools. Most recently, I taught at Mark Twain Middle School right here in Fairfax County. I also taught in Stafford and Manassas, and I taught in South Korea for four years as well.

What would you be doing if you weren’t teaching?

I enjoy cooking, so maybe I’d be a cook at a restaurant, or something like that.

What do you like to do outside of school?

One of my hobbies is cooking. I mentioned the chef dream. I also enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking and canoeing. I’m trying to get into fishing too.

What are your goals for this year?

I want to have a good year. How do I do that? I think my goals are to look at the books that we’re reading and make them relevant to students. “Macbeth” is coming up and not everyone sees Shakespeare as relevant today, but my goal is to connect.

Why did you decide to teach at CHS?

I wanted a change of pace from middle school and Chantilly seems to have a great community so I met with Mr. Winfrey and Mrs. Lehman, the chair of the English department, and they were both super friendly and talked about how the teachers here are really supportive of each other.

English teacher Stephen Robak prepares for his next class during his planning period. (Mark Hessel)
Spanish teacher Elisabeth Rosario gives instructions for an assignment to her fifth period Spanish class.
Elisabeth Rosario

In her 20th year of teaching, Spanish teacher Elisabeth Rosario joined the language department from Australia. She moved to the United States as a teen from Colombia and now she teaches Spanish 2 and 3. 

What did you do this summer?

This summer I celebrated my daughter’s 15th birthday, which is a big deal in Hispanic culture. The birthday is called a quinceañera when a girl turns 15; the girl goes from being a girl to a young lady. We celebrated with a big family gathering. The girl dresses like a princess and there’s all these rituals that we do to represent the love that we have for her. My family came from all over the place, from other countries and from all over America to celebrate. 

What were you doing in Australia?

My husband’s job allowed him to go and do a job over there in Australia. We moved the family there for seven years. I was teaching Spanish in the public school system there. There’s things I like from there and I miss it, but I also miss living here. Australia is really far away, so it was really tough to see my family and loved ones. It’s nice to come back to the states and reunite with the family.

Did you learn Spanish or did you already know it growing up?

I already knew Spanish growing up. I was born in Colombia and I moved to the United States when I was a teenager and finished school here. I went to college here and worked for Fairfax County for over 20 years now.

If you weren’t teaching, What career do you think you would be doing instead?

I always loved helping people. I really liked psychology when I was in college, so I took some classes. I think I would probably doing something with psychology or social work or something like that.

What is one thing you like about Chantilly?

I was teaching at Langley High School for 15 years before I moved to Australia. I like the diversity at Chantilly; I love that we have students and staff from all over the world and backgrounds. I really love that about Chantilly and the school spirit, I think, is one of those schools that really have a lot of school spirit. 

If you had to give someone advice about learning Spanish, what would it be?

I would say to look at the bigger picture. That it is not just the language, but it’s also about learning the culture, our way of life. I think just learning a language allows you to see how other people look at the world. When you take Spanish or any other language, it’s not just about the actual language, it is about learning how other people think and live their lives.

Spanish teacher Elisabeth Rosario gives instructions for an assignment to her fifth period Spanish class. (Huda Noorzai)
Librarian Kristen Schoenberger gives a lesson to students at the library orientation.
Kristen Schoenberger

After teaching as a history teacher for three years, Kristen Schoenberger started working as a librarian, helping students find books and teaching lessons.

What are you looking forward to at CHS?

I’m looking forward to getting to know all the students here at Chantilly High School. Since I’m new here, there’s many new people to work with, so I know it’ll take some time. I’m also excited to get to know all the teachers once I start working with more classes. 

What inspired you to become a librarian and where did you work before?

When I first started working at schools, I was a history teacher. I did that for three years in Virginia, and we had an amazing librarian at my school. She was so helpful and my classes would do lessons with her all the time. It just seemed like the best job in the school. I’ve always loved reading and books, so it fits well for me. I think it’s nice to work with students in a different way, not always regular classes. I enjoy seeing them when they’re looking for books or just to talk about their day. I think being a librarian is amazing because of all the different things I get to do. 

How does your normal day look like as a librarian?

Especially in a new school, every day is different for me. There will be some days where I’ll be working with classes, so when I come in I’d do lessons about research. Currently we’re focusing on library orientations, so that has been my main focus. Other times I’d be out at the front desk helping students get checked in and answering any questions. Sometimes I’ll meet with teachers about lesson plans, and occasionally I’ll read book reviews to figure out which books to buy for the library. I’ll also be focusing on certain collections and making sure people follow our collection development policy. I look for any books which need to be replaced due to poor condition. 

Do you have any ideas for the library?

Right now, we’re trying to think about how the Innovation Lab is going to run. I’m looking into figuring out what the students might like to use in addition to STEM activities, perhaps something related to art or if there’s any other low-tech crafts that we can do in the library. I’ve also been thinking about different ways to teach research skills, like source credibility and any new lessons I’d like to try with students. 

If you were to recommend any book what would it be?

I really enjoy reading mysteries, so I’d recommend any Agatha Christie books.

Librarian Kristen Schoenberger gives a lesson to students at the library orientation. (Nandini Sattineni)
Leave a Comment
Donate to The Purple Tide
$470
$600
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Chantilly High School. Your contribution will allow us to cover our printing and annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Aniket Saxena, Staff Writer
Aniket is a freshman in his first year with The Purple Tide. He plays tennis, but his favorite hobby is basketball. He spends his time drawing insulting cartoons of his little brother, playing basketball and tennis and hanging out with his friends. He also likes skateboarding, the NBA and rap.
Athula Cheboli, Staff Writer
Athula Cheboli is a freshman in her first year with The Purple Tide. Outside of school she does dance and enjoys reading. In her free time, she hangs out with her friends and watches Dance Moms.
Nadia Corea, Assistant Online Sports Editor
Nadia is a junior in her first year with The Purple Tide. In her free time, you can find her editing videos, playing basketball,and going thrifting with her friends. She loves making cute decor for her room and enjoys spending time with her family.
Mark Hessel, Staff Writer
Mark is a freshman in his first year with The Purple Tide. He enjoys basketball and football, and likes to spend time with his friends whenever he can. When he's not playing sports or spending time his friends and family, he likes to stay at home and read or play video games. He also has a dog named Ginger who he likes to play with as well.
Huda Noorzai, Staff Writer
Huda is a freshman in her first year with The Purple Tide. She loves to listen to music. Some genres she listens to include R&B, rap and hip hop. She enjoys playing soccer and is also a Madrid fan. She is interested to learn more about journalism and maybe pursue it as a career. Huda is excited to be on the TPT team and explore more about journalism.
Nandini Sattineni, Staff Writer
Nandini Sattineni is a freshman in her first year with The Purple Tide. She loves to watch movies in her free time and binge watch TV shows. She enjoys spending time with her friends and loves to go out. When Nandini does most tasks, she’s constantly listening to music whenever she can, because it’s her favorite thing to do.
Donate to The Purple Tide
$470
$600
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Purple Tide Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *