New Teachers on the Block

Meet the new teachers of Henry P. Becton High School!


Dr. Sforza and Board Vice President Mr. Bruce Young welcome new staff members to the ‘Becton Wildcat Family’. Photo courtesy of @Dr_DSforza.

Noelia Moore, Editor-in-Chief

To accommodate its recently added courses and opening positions, Becton Regional High School welcomes four new teachers to the Wildcat family. The group includes Special Education Math instructor Mrs. Jahn Maka, English and Journalism educator Mrs. Kara Sozzo, Baking and Pastry artist Mrs. Kimberly Damelio, and Digital Art teacher Miss Emily Evanowski.

A few of the new classes that were implemented this year are three digital arts courses: interior design, graphic design, and fashion design. The culinary department expanded as well by adding a baking and pastry decorating class to its program. The school’s newest hires each agree that they are excited for the new year and cannot wait to see what this new chapter holds. They have already acclimated to their classes and are building strong bonds with their students. 

“It feels good to be back,” said Mrs. Maka, who was part of Becton’s Class of 1996. Mrs. Maka has been teaching for fifteen years. She has worked in Verona High School in Willowbrook prior to her transition back to her alma mater. She received her undergraduate degree from Kean University, where she majored in Psychology and her Masters in special education from Montclair State University. She feels that the school has grown tremendously since she was a student, in both its variety of electives and classes and its welcoming spirit. Her inspiration for teaching has always been her students. “Regardless of what you’re teaching, you just have to be able to make learning exciting for everyone,” the math teacher remarked.

Mrs. Kara Sozzo joins the English department. Photo by CEV staff.

Another educator who elaborated on Becton’s positive atmosphere was Mrs. Sozzo. The English and journalism advisor believes that she has a slew of “good classes” this year in terms of her students’ attitudes and fun antics. She is also looking forward to working with the ensemble of this year’s drama production of “High School Musical” as assistant director. One of Mrs. Sozzo’s goals for the year is to ensure that her students become better communicators, using the skills they will acquire in both her classes to “express what [they] think in a way people can clearly understand.” Seeing each of the kids’ individual growth is what motivates her to teach in the first place. When asked why she believes students should take her journalism elective, Mrs. Sozzo explained “It’s important for everyone to have a voice, especially young people, because they’re just learning how they feel and what they think. It’s a good outlet to express yourself and inform students [about the] issues that matter to them.” 

This is her seventh year of teaching. She worked previously at a charter school in Paterson and appreciates having perspective from working in both a charter and now a traditional public school. Mrs. Sozzo attended St. John’s University in Queens for English, with minors in Philosophy Law and Creative Writing. She continued her education at William Paterson University for her Masters in Education, with an ESL concentration, and completed her Supervisory Certificate this summer at Rutgers. When asked what her favorite aspect of Becton was, Mrs. Sozzo stated “Becton has a really strong community feel. It’s a great environment that I’m happy to be a part of.” 

Mrs. Damelio also praised the high school for developing a strong community within its classrooms as it added her pilot culinary course this year. She expressed how “Becton is such an amazing school because it listens to its students. The culinary department

Mrs. Damelio gets cooking as the newest member of the culinary department. Photo by CEV staff.

had an overwhelming demand and I was lucky enough to be chosen to step in and help.” The cooking-based program did indeed grow popular among students in the last few years and has even more buzz surrounding it now that it offers more to learn. One of the aspects of her position that Mrs. Damelio loves is that she gets to work off of what her students wish to learn throughout the year to make the program enjoyable for everyone. While her class is separate from Chef Perdomo’s standard Culinary course, she works with her fellow teacher very closely. “I am incredibly excited to work with Chef P. and mesh our classes together just like in the [culinary] industry,” she said. She praised him for preparing her students for this new program by teaching them so well prior.

Although her elective is new to Becton, Mrs. Damelio expects a lot from her students, especially those who have taken culinary courses previously. Most of her students have been in the class for two or three years, so she sees that they are very capable of working in the kitchen. She encourages each of her students to at least attempt to do their best, and reminds them that making mistakes is “how you learn.” So far, the teacher is impressed with their knowledge and dedication to the art of cooking. She believes that students should take Baking and Pastry Arts because it is such a creative, hands-on class. “Plus they get to eat sweets!” she enthusiastically added. Mrs. Damelio is looking forward to making this year a “great first step for any student looking to advance into this industry.” 

Last, but certainly not least, Becton’s final new hire for the year is Miss Evanowski, who regards her position as the new Digital Arts teacher as a “dream come true!” She aspires to assist students in developing the skills needed to prosper in the digital art field if they wish to pursue it. “Digital art is a large landscape, and there are many avenues to expand and create a career from,” she explained. “This class is just the beginning for them, and I want them to start off with a strong foundation.” Her courses offer a wide range of skill sets and techniques to learn for multiple aspects of digital art, including illustration, photography, advertising, and animation, to name a few. 

This is Miss Evanowski’s first year as a teacher, but she was previously a long-term substitute for Toms River Regional Schools.

Miss Evanowski joins the art department part-time. Photo by CEV Staff.

She attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan with a major in illustration. She recalls working on a short animation and comic work during her time there. The art teacher compared Becton to her alma mater, Toms River High School South, due to its warm ambiance. Right after getting acquainted with students and staff, she knew that this would quickly become a home to her. She is thankful that the school is smaller than she is used to, because it provides a greater chance to have more one-on-one experiences with students, making her transition easier. Watching artists hone their craft and mature motivates her to teach, as well as seeing “how foundational art classes are to what trajectory people take in life.” Miss Evanowski commented, “Not everyone is made to draw, but anyone can learn how to draw if given the proper time and instruction, and I am more than happy to give that instruction.”

Superintendent and Principal Dr. Dario Sforza expressed his pride and contentment with the new teachers Becton has chosen for the 2019-2020 school year. He explained that “because of the positive climate and culture we created, the advanced facilities and the family-like atmosphere, we’re able to attract some of the top candidates for teaching positions.” The school made certain that the individuals selected to join the clowder understood the importance of teaching in such a tight-knit, robust environment. “We focused heavily on the individuals’ talents, abilities, courage and heart, as well as their caring attitude towards their students, peers, and careers well beyond just the classroom,” Dr. Sforza praised. He feels that Becton has hired what Assistant Principal Mr. Bononno calls “true Hall of Famers.”