Alumni Teachers Recall Life as Midwood Students

Ms. Joanna Alonso explains project guidelines to her third period class.   Photo Credit: Samantha Flannery

Ms. Joanna Alonso explains project guidelines to her third period class.

Photo Credit: Samantha Flannery


“When I reflect on who I am and how I became so outgoing and determined, my experience at Midwood is always the first thing that comes to mind,” said Ms. Joanna Alonso ’09, who is now a Midwood English teacher, but who was once a Midwood student.

During her time spent in the Humanities program, Ms. Alonso was a part of SING! for three years, cheerleading for two years, and even started a club for cancer research. Fun fact: It was her 2009 class that started the saying “It’s a beautiful day to be a hornet.”

Ms. Alonso is hardly the only alumnus (graduate) teaching at Midwood. Other teachers who have also graced our halls as students include Ms. Robin Igla ’99, Ms. Renee Goldfarb ’03, Ms. Kimberly Lau ’08, and Mr. Pieter Chicofsky ’90. While attending Midwood, Ms. Igla was in concert orchestra for four years and worked for Argus for three years. She was a Medical Science student. Ms. Goldfarb was in honors math for all four years and was a member of the swim team. 

“I really enjoyed the friends I made while I was a student at Midwood and my time as a member of the girls swimming team,” Ms. Goldfarb said. “I still keep in touch, and I’m friends with some of those people today.”

Until recently, Ms. Goldfarb has been the swim coach for the current girls swim team. 

“I am glad that I can teach the students of Midwood, and I hope to provide them with an incredible experience like I had,” said Ms. Goldfarb. 

Upon returning to Midwood as teachers, the transition can be quite odd.

“It took quite a while to see myself as an adult in this building,” said Ms. Igla. “Sometimes I still have to be reminded.”

Ms. Alonso had a similar experience. “My former teachers teased me for a solid few months,” she said.

Some of the teachers who inspired these alumni are still here and are now their co-workers.

“Mr. Spergel helped me get my foot in the door at Midwood,” said Mrs. Lau. “Mr. Stack and Mr. Esposito are also two teachers I really look up to still because they were just so personable and good at chemistry. Ms. Manno was a good strong feminine influence, and Mr. Bonavita was the best teacher to keep you engaged and having fun for a first period U.S. History class.”

Some of Ms. Alonso’s former teachers include Mr. Adams, Ms. Rowe, Mr. Peters, Mr. Richardson, Ms. Manno, and Ms. Copeland. 

Ms. Goldfarb said, “It’s interesting and fun being on a first name basis and being friends with former teachers.”

Mr. Chicofsky said, “Mr. Schafred was the only math teacher who was able to get numbers threw my thick skull. And Mr. Milkman really brought literature to life.” 

As alumni, these teachers are able to remark on the growth Midwood has experienced since their time as students.

Mr. Chicofsky said, “Everything about Midwood changed. When I was a senior, they were just putting in the north and south wings. The courtroom wasn’t there either. It has been very beneficial. It gives the mock trial team a place to practice and law students an awesome environment to study law in.”

Ms. Alonso said, “When I was a student, there were limited options and limited sections for AP classes. The range of Advanced Placement courses that Midwood now offers has increased greatly.”

Ms. Lau said, “The annex opened in the fall of 2008, so I actually never stepped inside it until I graduated. It’s fantastic that science in our school has expanded now to so many APs and electives as well.”

Anything else? “The hallways have become nearly impassable,” Mr. Chicofsky said.

“And the kids became cooler,” he added.

FeaturesCasey Levinson