The Patriot In-Depth: Looking into the talents and stories of new teachers

The Patriot learns more than just the class lessons from the new teachers and dives deeper to find out about the teachers themselves.

Alison Amato, class of ’00

English teacher Alison Amato knew that teaching English was the right path for her when she received the Creative Writing Award at her graduation from JC.

Before coming to JC, Amato was a teaching assistant for four years at Florida Atlantic University. In the classroom, she emphasizes teaching with critical thinking and discussion.

“I like my students to put everything they’re learning into context,” she said. “English is important on a day-to-day basis, so look again if you don’t like it.” She wants her students to feel comfortable contributing and to “be respectful of each other’s ideas.”

To do well in her class, Amato suggests her students participate, partake in discussion, and simply do the work. She has loved her experience at JC so far.

“The faculty has been very supportive, and the students really are dedicated,” Amato said.

Along with teaching, she also loves writing. “I’ve been doing it for so long,” she said. In fact, Amato doesn’t even consider writing a hobby because it’s such a big part in her life.

However, she also enjoys fun cooking experiments. Additionally, her family is involved in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which is an organization that financially helps farmers at the beginning of the planting season. Customers such as Amato and her family pay for a subscription or membership, and they receive fresh produce for the whole year.

Martha Cavanaugh-O’Keefe

During math and science teacher Martha Cavanaugh-O’Keefe’s career as a teacher, she has taught a variety of subjects including chemistry, physics, biology, and English. She currently teaches chemistry, Algebra 2, and Algebra 3.

Before coming to JC, Cavanaugh-O’Keefe was a part of the Peace Corps in Tanzania. With such a big adjustment, she said that “JC’s staff is very supportive. Everybody is so helpful, and the students are receptive.”

According to Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, her style of teaching is “interactive” and “silly.” She enjoys playing games with her students to help them learn, like using squirt guns to measure liquids and hitting whiffle balls to study accuracy. According to Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, she wants her classroom to be a “happy face place” for her students.

However, Cavanaugh-O’Keefe’s passions do not stop at teaching. For the Halloween Lantern Parade, she volunteers to stilt walk through the streets of Baltimore City. The parade is an annual event where people can dress up in costumes and make lanterns from plastic bottles, which they can then carry in the parade. She has even offered to teach any students that are interested.

Cavanaugh-O’Keefe also likes to spend her free time baking and decorating cakes. For her dad’s 60th birthday, she decorated a cake to model the Globe Theater.

Sean Connolly

On September 11, 2001, thousands, arguably millions were affected by the disaster of 9/11 whether directly or indirectly. Math teacher Sean Connolly was among them.

Before 9/11, he commuted into Manhattan almost every day. He was a lawyer with a practice in New York. However, afterwards, nothing was ever the same for Connolly.

“It made me stop and think about things,” he said. He started taking education classes, and “hasn’t looked back.”

Now teaching algebra and calculus, Connolly said that “I want my students to know what they’re doing,” and completely understand the material.

According to Connolly, he encourages them to “do the best that they possibly can” by completing the practice problems, asking questions, coming after school for additional help, or emailing him.

“Everyone here is wonderful. They have been so welcoming, so helpful,” he said. “JC’s Catholic identity is strong. It has a family atmosphere.”

Aside from teaching, Connolly also loves spending time with his family and watching baseball.

Hayley Howe

“My first day at John Carroll reminded me of my first day teaching. I was more excited than nervous,” new English teacher Hayley Howe said. Although she’s new to this school, she’s definitely not new to teaching. Howe taught in Frederick County, at Mount St. Mary’s, and has also been a student teacher.

Before coming to JC, Howe taught 8th grade. “I’m very happy to be teaching high school again,” Howe said.  “The students here are wonderful. They allow me to be relaxed with them, but when it’s time to start working, they are able to get things done.”

Howe wants to connect with her students so they can be honest with her.

“I would describe myself as a ‘laid-back rigorous’ teacher. I want to make sure that the students are comfortable in the classroom so I can push them to do their best,” Howe said. “At the beginning of the year, I asked my students to raise their hands if they like English. I wanted them to be honest with me, because I want to make the students that don’t like English like it.”

“She is really nice, easy to communicate with, tells you straight up what you need to do, and is laid back but keeps control of class,” sophomore Michael Imbierowicz said. “My favorite part is when we do our timed writing because it is a lot different than anything I have done before, and you get to express your ideas about the topic.”

In addition to teaching English, Howe also coaches her favorite hobby: soccer. “My favorite thing to do is definitely play soccer,” she said. “I coach both the JV and Varsity girls—it’s a very social activity.”

Howe expects a lot from all of her students, and she wants them to give her their best attitude. “I want whatever they can offer, even if they’re having a bad day. I know they have a lot on their plate, but some students don’t use free mods to the best of their ability,” Howe said. “Students should definitely take the time to study and make sure they get their homework done.”

Overall, Howe loves JC so far, and she’s very happy to be here. “Everyone here is so nice, welcoming, and very professional. I can’t wait to know more about all of my students.”

Michael Kimble

When religion teacher Michael Kimble came to JC, he knew he wanted to be back in a Catholic school.

“I am a big believe in the Catholic education. I missed being in a Catholic school,” he said.

In addition, Kimble heard about the new boarding school program with the international students, and he knew he wanted to help with it. He is currently the dorm supervisor at St. Joseph Hall with 13 international students.

“I am in the midst of all the activity in the students’ lives. There is always activity happening,” Kimble said.

Besides being the dorm supervisor, Kimble teaches Church History and Intro to Bible classes. According to Kimble, he has his own ways of teaching his students.

“It is important to try to integrate technology into the class. I try to mix in different strategies,” he said. Kimble also includes lectures with notes and gets the students involved by making small group projects.

Before coming to JC, Kimble was the principal of a Catholic elementary school, and he was also the Dean of Students and Director of Industrial Life at The Phelps School for boys.

Overall, Kimble has been in the education field for 25 years. According to Kimble, he is enjoying his time being the dorm supervisor, and he is ready to learn more about the international students.  He also said that “it is very interesting to be part of the new boarding school program. We are all trying to establish a sense of community.”

Jessica Limmer, class of ’00

Physics teacher Jessica Limmer walks through the halls of JC with a big smile on her face, as it brings back the memories of when she was a student here.

“It’s great to be back here,” Limmer said.

Limmer is back at JC again, but not as a student this time. She started her first year as the physics and robotics teacher, eager to be here.

“I’m so excited to be at John Carroll. My first day was incredible,” she said.“The students here are exceptional.”

“I think she is a great teacher. I really like how every day when you come in she has a random science fun fact of the day on the smart board. I also really like the experiments because they get everyone up and out of their seats,” senior April Moscati said.

Before coming to work at JC, Limmer was a substitute teacher at The Bryn Mawr School, and she spent the past six years teaching in Anne Arundel County. Limmer wants to make sure her students work hard and understand everything she teaches.

“I’m very hands-on. I like to make things fun and relate to real life,” Limmer said. “I’m always available for my students before and after school, and it’s important for students to not procrastinate and always complete the homework assignments.”

When Limmer isn’t teaching, she loves spending time with her four-year-old son, Jackson. “I spend as much time as I can with him. We love to travel,” she said. “I also love to go hiking.”

According to Limmer, she already loves working at JC, and can’t wait to see what the rest of the school year has in store. “I leave work every day with a smile on my face,” she said. “I haven’t been happier.”

Julie Parrish

“My brain was full of multiple schedules. I was trying to wrap my head around John Carroll’s schedule and my schedule. It was hectic—but very exciting,” Chorus teacher Julie Parrish said, describing her first day of school.

Parrish took over teaching Chorus this year. Although it is Parrish’s first year as an official teacher at JC, she isn’t new to the environment. Parrish has been teaching the musical theatre class at JC’s Academy of Performing Arts and Dance for the past two years. Although chorus is not a required class, Parrish still expects the very best from all of her students.

“I expect professionalism and diligence, and I also want them to have fun,” she said. “I’m very direct and expressive when I teach, and I expect enthusiastic participation from my students,” she said.

During Parrish’s free time, she enjoys doing other music-related things.

“I’ve been the music director for the Children’s Playhouse of Maryland for the past seven seasons,” Parrish said. “I also love performing on stage. It’s my favorite hobby.”

Parrish believes that the most important thing that her students can do in her class is listen. “Listening is the key,” she said. “I don’t want my students to just listen to me, but I want them to listen to the people around them. Music classes are based on listening and reproducing sound.”

Parrish said that she loves her time here, and she can’t wait to continue teaching her students. “John Carroll is a great work setting,” Parrish said. “I get to be in a position to inspire students the way that my high school teachers inspired me.”

Tara Snook

“I was so excited to start working at JC. I felt like a kid on their first day of school,” English teacher Tara Snook said.

Snook loves teaching already. “I love JC because the students are really welcoming and respectful,” she said. “I also love that it’s easy to get here. It only takes me about 10 minutes every morning. It’s a short commute, which is convenient.”

Snook wants her students to feel comfortable in the classroom, and she wants the students to be able to participate often. “I like to do a lot of projects and I like to help students get in touch with their creative side. I love having a student-centered classroom,” Snook said.

During Snook’s free time, she loves to participate in many different activities. “I love to run, do yoga, and read. My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut. I love to cook, especially homemade pizzas,” she said.

Snook wants to make sure that she helps her students to be the best they can be, and in turn, complete all of the graded assignments and bring all of the materials needed for class.

Overall, Snook said she can’t wait to interact with her students even more. “I want them to think outside the box and push themselves to try new things, and I want them to have a good work ethic while they do it.”

Steve Teter

When social studies teacher Steve Teter took a break from teaching to switch to a career in sales, Teter’s decision to teach was solidified.

Before this year, Teter coached JV and varsity baseball at JC.

“JC has been great. I’ve wanted to teach here for a while,” he said. According to Teter, his style is “laid back.”

“I’m not much of a lecturer,” he said. Instead, he wants his students to think for themselves.

He has high expectations for them, and his main focus is to prepare them for college. “I want [my students] to reach their full potential,” Teter said.

However, he also wants his students to be themselves and be comfortable trying new things. His other interests include live music and his family.

Kathy Welsh

Before coming to JC, Media Specialist Kathy Welsh worked with telecommunications at AT&T. She then took a break to start a family. Afterwards, she went back to school to teach computer classes.

Now at JC, she aspires to “make [technology] more of a resource and do more digital things.”

Welsh helps students with collaborative film projects and even visits classes to help them maximize the technological tools JC offers.

“The people [at JC] are nice, the sports are competitive, and the students like technology,” Welsh said. “They really reached out to me.” Aside from her occupation as a media specialist, Welsh also likes to goof off and watch sports, especially lacrosse and field hockey.

Nicole Arrison is an In-Depth Editor and Sydney Setree is the Print Chief for The Patriot and