by Nina Mariotti and Alexandra Augustak
Photo Credit: Joel Hinrichs
To add to his impressive list of visited countries, Joel Hinrichs recently sojourned to the exotic Saudi Arabia. In an attempt to dispel any stereotypes or misunderstanding that American students might have about Saudi Arabia a popular oil company invited 20 US teachers to experience the country first hand. Hinrichs, an adventurous history teacher at BHS, jumped on the opportunity to visit a country that not many Americans get the chance to travel to. Saudi Arabia has been somewhat closed off to American tourists, so it was a huge learning experience for Hinrichs. “I was prepared for the culture difference, but it still came as a shock…I was surprised by how diverse Saudi Arabia actually is.”
Hinrichs and the other teachers visited schools of all ages ranging from primary to university level. The schools were co-ed, although the boys and girls were separated by different floors. Of the subjects studied there, mathematics and engineering were most prominent. ANd the students there were very interested in America and seemed to want to learn more about our culture.
Hinrichs hopes to incorporate his travel to Saudi Arabia, as well as many other countries, into his classroom. Because of his travels he is now able to show personal pictures, such as the inside of a Mosque, him riding a camel, and him wearing the traditional outfit. In his opinion, personal stories and photos really brings the lesson to life, and makes the country less distant. Hinrichs recommends exploring the world to everyone. “It’s a really good experience to see what life is like in other countries,” he says. “It really opens your mind.” It is important to realize that the world is bigger than Branford High School.
by Alexandra Augustak and Nina Mariotti
With the school year now in full swing, Richard Thomas has come to know and love Branford High School. He transferred here at the start of the year after teaching at Meriden High School. When asked about comparing BHS to his old school, Mr. Thomas exclaimed that he’s much happier here. “The students and teachers are so easy to work with,” he says.
Mr. Thomas found his inspiration to become a teacher when he was just a sophomore in high school while taking Algebra 2 and incidentally, he now teaches Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 block at BHS. While he’s getting acquainted with the students, Mr. Thomas wants to share his advice to everyone: “Work hard now so it’ll be easier later on.” Mr. Thomas, welcome to the BHS community!
by Vinny Roca
Hamlet Hernandez definitely has a passion for his job as superintendent of Branford Public Schools. One can tell by simply asking him his outlook for the near future of the schools, that he doesn’t count the hours that he puts in to helping the school system, but rather cherishes them.
What is interesting about Hamlet is the amount of carriers he has had leading up to his career as Superintendent of Branford Public Schools. He was a former Marine Officer and is currently a retired Lieutenant Coronel. After that, he decided to move to the path of education. His education carriers range from a middle school math teacher to a bilingual teacher in California. Hamlet was also a principal for several years before taking his position as assistant superintendent of Hamden public school were he worked for 6 years. After Dr. Halligan retired as Superintendent of Branford Public Schools, Hamlet decided he had to go after the opportunity. He applied to the Branford Board of Education for the position. After rigorous interviews, he was the number one choice for the position.
As the new superintendent, Hamlet has a wide perspective for the paths he wants to direct Branford public schools in. However, Hamlet agrees on the fact that students should be able to peruse their own inertest within their educational experience. Hamlet told the buzz that, “Students should be open to a wide variety of opportunities, but also be able to peruse their personal interest.” Hamlet is also ready to prepare students for a challenge. “An important part of education is personal rigor.” He explained to the Buzz how students must be challenged to their fullest ability in order to reach their full potential. Overall, the major focus that Hamlet was making was that he and all of Branford staff are trying to direct the education of Branford away from factual memorization, but rather learning and understanding a concept. Hamlet explained this to the Buzz when he said, “It’s not just about memorizing a fact, but understanding a concept.” Expansion of originality within the confines of the educational boundaries is another goal he hopes to achieve. He told the Buzz that when students truly understand a concept they can, “produce an original thought or idea and start to defend it.” This movement towards originality and creativity can be seen through out the Branford public school community with the emphasis on creativity in arts, writing, and ideas. Lastly, Hamlet hopes to prepare students to become responsible adults. He echoed the mission of Branford High School, when he told the buzz that he wants to, “prepare youth to become productive and contributing citizens.” Hamlet explained to the Buzz that our public schools provide all the provisions to prepare their students for the future.
Even though Hamlet is dedicated a passionate about his job, he does have pastimes that bring him joy. Hamlet enjoys reading and has a large passion for it, leaving the interview Hamlet recommended a book of Abraham Lincoln proclaiming it a “great book.” He also told the Buzz that Abraham Lincoln is his hero, right behind his father. Hamlet also enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his wife and two teenagers.