By Rose Lindstrom
This fall, OBHS welcomed two new teachers, Mrs. Harwood and Mr. Herbert, to the Oyster Bay school community. Originally from Hauppauge, Mrs. Harwood teaches Living Environment and Forensics. From Northport, Mr. Herbert teaches business classes. In addition to their new teaching positions, Mrs. Harwood and Mr. Herbert are the class advisors for the freshman class of 2025. To get to know the new hires better, the Harbour Voice sat down with them to talk about their careers, and their experience as advisors and teachers.
What made you choose to become a teacher? What caused you to gravitate towards your content area?
Harwood: “I loved biology; I love DNA and everything that DNA does, being so small and found in every single living thing. I also loved working with kids. I thought the best way to fuse those two together was to teach biology.”
Herbert: “I studied business in college, I was a business management major. Once I graduated, I went through a series of different jobs in business and corporate work in different areas, and loved it all. I come from a background of teachers; both my parents are teachers, my sister is a teacher, and my wife is a teacher, so it’s in my DNA. I always felt like teaching was something I wanted to do, but I really felt that good teachers are sometimes ones that can talk about experiences before teaching, especially in something like business. Working in the business world, I wanted to take my experiences to the classroom. The business class I took in high school, I saw the value of it in my adulthood, and I would like to try and give a student that type of experience now.”
Have you always wanted to teach? If not, what did you think you wanted to do when you were younger?
Harwood: “I wanted to teach when I was really young, because my mom was a teacher. Once I realized I really loved science, I actually wanted to be a forensic investigator. I soon found that I preferred working with people, and so that's when I made that switch.”
Herbert: “When I was in 5th grade, we had a yearbook. In the yearbook, you had to say your name, and your dream job. My dream job was technology teacher when I was 10 years old. Obviously I’m not the technology teacher, I’m the business teacher, but I guess you could say yes, I did always kind of know I wanted to be a teacher. It took me a while to get here, being that it's my second career path, but it being in my DNA, I felt it was something that I wanted to be at some point in my life.”
How long have you been teaching? Where have you worked before coming to OBHS? (previous school district/s?)
Harwood: “This is my 10th year teaching, and I taught in Brooklyn for the past 9 years prior to this.”
Herbert: “I have been teaching a full 2 months; new to teaching, loving it. In my previous experience, I was working in the corporate world as a corporate trainer. I would train other professionals, so depending upon the industry or the skill set, I would train new hires and get them motivated in terms of what they needed to do for their new job. I wrote various programs for businesses in terms of sales, training, and marketing training. In a way, I was teaching, but it was more directed towards professionals.”
What made you want to start teaching? Was there any moment in life where you just knew?
Harwood: “I was actually getting my master’s in social work, and I wasn’t very happy with it. It was the summer I couldn’t find a job, and I went back to the camp I had worked at when I was in high school. I had a really amazing time working with these little kids, who probably graduated high school at this point. I remember laying in bed being like, I just want to be a camp counselor for the rest of my life. I love biology, and what can I do to fuse them together? A little ‘ding’ happened like in the cartoons, and that was the moment I never looked back.”
Herbert: “Teaching was something I knew I was going to get to, and it wasn’t a question of if, it was more of a question of when, but COVID was really the turning point for me. Everyone was in lockdown, they were working from home, and my wife, being a teacher, was working with her students on Zoom and I saw the appreciation that students had for my wife, and how much joy she had from her job. A lot of people used COVID as an excuse to do nothing, but I looked at it as more of an opportunity to take this extra time I had in my day (because I was no longer commuting into NYC every day) to investigate different programs, and I found a master’s program at Hofstra University. I started taking night classes there, and the rest is history.”
How would you describe your teaching style?
Harwood: “I’m very organized. I like to hear student voices, so I always try to include some sort of discussion for students to talk to each other. I want students to feel like they are being heard and being listened to, so I always try to incorporate that into my lessons. I don’t want to just stand in front of the room and just lecture.”
Herbert: “My teaching style is ‘New School.” I guess when I think of old school teaching, I think of the teacher at the front of the room lecturing for 40 minutes with a piece of chalk, giving tests, and not really asking the students how they feel about something, and I like to bring a lot of personalization. I like dialogue and discussion. Every lesson I’ll always have some component of a lecture to introduce the topic we are going to be discussing, but then I try and turn it to the students and ask ‘where have you seen this before, how does this make you feel, do you agree or disagree?’ and then open up for discussion. I would say that’s more of a Socratic approach: asking a lot of questions and getting the students to realize that they already know the answer to something, or have to find it themselves.”
What do you hope to accomplish at OBHS? How do you hope to grow as an educator here?
Harwood: “I really hope that I can share my love of biology with the students, and have them feel that they love it as well, or at least interested in it, and keep them interested and curious. I really hope I have that type of impact on students. I also hope to improve my own practice.”
Herbert: “Being my first teaching job, I’m just really excited to be here and everyone has brought me in with open arms. Something I’d really like to do here with the business program, is something I experienced with my high school. So, I attended Northport High School Academy of Finance, which was this big business program that was prestigious. You had to apply to get in; There was this whole set of prerequisites that you needed to have, there was an interview to get in, you had to have an internship, like a whole list of things that had to have happened, but when you were done, it looked great in your resume, and really helped get students into college, and stand out from the rest of the pack. At OBHS right now, they offer a lot of different business classes, and I love them all. I think they’re all excellent, but what I want to try to do is not just necessarily offer more classes, but create a type of program. I want to call that something like the OBBA, the Oyster Bay Business Association. What it will be is a prestigious set of business classes that students take, but in order for them to be a part of it, they have to meet a certain set of requirements. That will give them, basically, a huge brag sheet for college, and it will set them apart, and I want to be the one to bring that to them.”
What do you like most about the Oyster Bay community so far?
Harwood: “I really like how collaborative all the teachers are. If I have a question as a new teacher, there's always someone that can support me. I really find that the students are kind and caring and supportive of each other. I like that it’s a small school, because everyone knows each other, and I can get to know more people.”
Herbert: “To be fair, I haven’t spent too much time in town yet, but I was part of homecoming, so I marched in the parade. Marching through the parade on Main Street is a totally different experience than just driving down Main Street because you can see and experience more. I found there are really good restaurants. I love the charm of the town; I think it has a real mom-and-pop feel to it, very old school, and a real community base to it, which I do appreciate. I love the fact that it’s right on the water; that’s another bonus. Just being here, I expect to be involved in the community and do some community service, so I'll be working with the chamber of commerce here and small businesses, so I can help them. Through those experiences, I hope to get to know people a lot better.”
Any fun facts about yourself (unique talents, hobbies, travels, etc.)?
Harwood: “I went to space camp in 2016, and I’ve been to Montana to dig up dinosaur fossils. Some new hobbies I have are mountain biking and snowboarding.”
Herbert: “ I would say that I'm a humble type, but in my previous job I did have the luxury of traveling quite a bit. I’ve been to 37 of the 50 states traveling domestically in my old job. I would also frequently go to Europe (England, Germany, and parts of France) and Mexico, which was a great, really fun experience. As for talent, I’m an amazing cook; I will not be humble about that one. I owe a lot of that to my parents. I grew up in a house where my parents were always cooking dinner, and I feel like that rubbed off on me, so I love to cook. I feel like my wife and I are always trying to look for ways to get outside, so we’ll go hiking, and we like to travel when we can.”
You have been selected as the class advisors for the freshman class. What interested you in taking on this kind of leadership role?
Harwood: “I teach mostly freshmen, and I thought it would be a great way to get to know them better and get to know the school better. I like how next year I will be the sophomore advisor and how we will move up together.”
Herbert: “Being new to the school district, I wanted to get involved with as many things as I could to get to know students, network in the community, and just know the school better. Being in the classroom is excellent, but being stuck inside one room all day limits your exposure, so I felt working with clubs was a good way to do it. Also, having the opportunity to be the freshman class advisor, I thought that it would be beneficial, because I’ll grow with those students from freshman to seniors. So, I’ll see them grow, and help them along the way.”
Do you enjoy being the advisor?
Harwood: “Yeah. Preparing for homecoming was stressful, but it was also a lot of fun. Seeing the freshman do lip sync was exciting, and building together the float for the parade was really fun. The parade was really fun. So, I have enjoyed it.”
Herbert: “Yeah, it's great. Homecoming was a really good way to kind of get involved and get started. I met with a bunch of students after school, we built a float together, we marched in the parade; a lot of students contributed to the bake sales, which was a great effort on everyone's part. We were there at the homecoming game, selling things for the club. Right now, we are actually working on putting together some candy sales for Halloween this week and, perhaps, even a video game knockout bracket tournament for the school. It's been a blast, and it's been a lot of fun working with them.”
You and Harwood/Herbert are both new teachers this year. What is your dynamic like? Do you think you work well together as a team?
Harwood: “I think we do work well as a team; we’re starting to figure out each other's strengths. I teach mostly freshmen and he doesn’t, so I do a lot of the communication with the class officers. There is some paperwork that he gets taken care of. He does a lot of that; he’s the business teacher, so that’s some of his strength. We’ve been able to split our roles well, and take on different responsibilities."
Herbert: “Oh, absolutely. Mrs. Harwood has been great. Although she is new to Oyster Bay, she has been teaching for quite some time, and me being a newer teacher with a lot of questions, she has been a bit of a mentor to me. I can go with her with questions, even unrelated to the club, and just ask her about things about teaching. She’s been really helpful there. As a partner and a teammate running the club, I think we work well together. We share the responsibility quite equally, and we communicate regularly. I know that if I can’t get to something, she’ll do it, and vice versa.”
Favorite part about the school year so far? Anything to add?
Harwood: “My favorite part has been interacting with people in the class. People in the class make me laugh so hard, and they are genuinely funny. Really getting to know the students and their personalities is what I really love about teaching."
Herbert: “That is a loaded question. I would just say getting to know how everything works, and, although it's only been a couple of months, it feels like I’ve been here a long time, and I think that’s a good sign that shows the involvement of students, the commitment by our administrators and teachers, and the support of the community. I think there is a lot to offer here, and being here for just a short amount of time, but still feeling like I'm a part of something bigger has definitely been the biggest takeaway so far.”
The Harbour Voice welcomes Mrs. Harwood and Mr. Herbert to Oyster Bay High School, and wishes them continued success in their teaching careers here.