New year, new faces: an inside look into the lives of some of the new teachers

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The new school year is in full swing, and while most of us are returning to our old study routines, some are just beginning their Heritage experience. The latter of the two not only applies to new students, but also new teachers to guide them. From the fine arts to the physical education departments, a plethora of new instructors are beginning their Heritage career to educate the incoming and returning students. This is merely a glimpse into the lives of five of the new educators who began their experience earlier this year.

Teaching scenic design, scenic painting and introduction to tech theatre this year in the Upper School, Ms. Katherine Field said that she is excited to get started on her inaugural year at Heritage. Previously, Ms. Field taught Stagecraft at Virginia Commonwealth University as she worked on her masters degree in Stage Design.

In addition, in 2016 and 2017, Ms. Field also worked as the Assistant Director of Tech Education at the Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute, which provides highly regarded programs across the nation for aspiring high school students. However, theater is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Ms. Field. She also continues to design scenery for professional theatres as well as takes pleasure in kickboxing. Ms. Field said she is eager to work alongside her new theater students as well as spread her knowledge and love for theater across campus.

“Theater is so spectacular because it involves everything that you would encounter in everyday life, plus magic,” Ms. Field said. “Every show is different; every project is different, and every student is different. There will never be a dull moment, and I am so excited to get started on this journey together.”

Also entering her first year at AHS, Ms. Marianna Cardenas is teaching freshman world geography and senior government and economics in the Academy. Ms. Cardenas first taught at Stranahan High School before moving her teaching career to Plantation High School. Between the two schools, she has been the instructor for government, economics, world history, world geography and comprehensive law.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but it wasn’t my initial career,” Ms. Cardenas said. “After I got my law degree, I decided that I couldn’t live my life without following my passion (education), so I left and started teaching; I haven’t looked back and never will.”

“I love the social sciences. I believe that understanding them makes us better human beings,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know my students, helping them and hopefully imparting a sense of curiosity and desire to learn more.”

In the science department, Ms. Jennifer Fermin is teaching freshman and sophomore honors biology this school year. The world of science is nothing new to Ms. Fermin, who previously taught at Coral Glades High School. Ms. Fermin taught sophomore, junior and senior AP biology and AICE marine science as well as freshman and sophomore honors biology.

Ms. Fermin has demonstrated her true passion for biology throughout her lifetime. Before becoming a teacher, she worked as a scuba instructor, an environmental educator and a primatologist, someone who focuses on the study of monkeys and apes, for organizations such as Conservation International, the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the DuMond Conservancy for Primates and Tropical Forests.

“[I] realized during the course of these careers that I enjoyed sharing my love of these subjects and knowledge with others — a perfect segue into teaching,” Ms. Fermin said. “I am passionate about my field, especially wildlife conservation, and love getting students excited about science.”

From her childhood days in Liberia, Ms. Fermin has always been surrounded by wildlife, as her family owned an animal orphanage. “I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by an amazing array of animals, including monkeys, chimps, deer, mongoose, a hippo, a leopard, various birds and many others,” she said. “I don’t ever remember a time in my life when nature didn’t fascinate me.”

As a result of her childhood, Ms. Fermin worked to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Biology and a Masters degree in Conservation Biology. She continues to keep animals close to her at all times, as her household is not only home to her family, but also to her eleven dogs, seven ferrets, three cats and eight fish tanks.

“I am excited to begin this new adventure at Heritage,” Ms. Fermin said. “I am looking forward to working with a group of new students and knowledgeable faculty. I love to teach and hope to inspire my classes to enjoy the study of life.”

In the physical education department, Mr. German Garcia is leading Physical Fitness classes in the Upper School. Before coming to Heritage, Mr. Garcia worked at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School in Miami Lakes for six years. In that timespan, he taught PK-4 through eighth grade physical education, served as a teacher for seventh grade religion and worked as the Athletic Director.

He also coached various sports including volleyball, basketball, cross country and flag football. “I had a passion to coach the youth,” Mr. Garcia said, “so by becoming a physical education teacher, I am teaching children the importance of staying active regardless of their skill level in sports.”

Outside of teaching, Mr. Garcia’s enjoyments include regularly playing golf as well as keeping up with all sports in general. He also enjoys spending time with his family and going to the movies in his spare time. As for his new teaching career at Heritage, Mr. Garcia is helping coach the cross country team in addition to his physical fitness classes. He is also working with high school students for the first time.

“[I aspire] to do my best as an educator in physical fitness as well as coaching various sports after school in order make a positive difference and impact on the lives of the students at American Heritage,” Mr. Garcia said.

Teaching English I Honors and English III Honors, Ms. Bolanos is making her return after teaching at St. Thomas Aquinas High School for four years, where she taught AP Language and Composition in her final two years. Heritage initially hired Ms. Bolanos after she finished graduate school in 2009, where she taught eleventh and twelfth grade English CP and worked as the senior class advisor for five years.

It is not surprising that Ms. Bolanos is a literature fanatic, since she specializes in that field. “I have a passion for the subject that I teach and I wanted to share that with students,” she said. “I enjoy the daily interactions with my students and seeing the light bulbs go off when they’ve learned something new and exciting.”

Outside of conducting literature classes, Ms. Bolanos enjoys exercising often, frequents the beach and participates in obstacle course racing such as Spartan and Tough Mudder. She also used to be a salsa dancer and even performed in a Super Bowl pregame show.

Emily, Ms. Bolanos daughter, entered PK3 this school year. Ms. Bolanos is looking forward to watching her daughter grow in the Heritage environment, yet still has her eyes set on the current school year, eager to convey to the student body the true meaning of literature. “Literature has a way of opening one’s mind and one’s eyes in a way that can totally change how one views humanity and the world around us,” Ms. Bolanos said. She looks to transfer her overall excitement for this school year into helping guide the growth of her students, whether it be in the classroom, or outside of it.

These new teachers are only a few of the many who are joining Heritage this year, each with different backgrounds and enjoyments. However, although varying in many different subjects and exciting activities outside the classroom, the new additions to our school all seem to share one common goal: to educate their students in the best way they know how.


Wenjing Hu Chinese Teacher
Stephanie Hibbard Chemistry Teacher
Angela Moorman-Davis Chorus/Piano Teacher
Jeff Rivero Computer Teacher
Raquel Bolanos English Teacher
Roman Mangeym Math Teacher
Bharti Bhaya Math Teacher
Daniel Ariew Math Teacher
Erin Joubert Science Teacher
Kimberly Spearing Science Teacher
Charlene Thompson English Teacher


Sammy is a sophomore at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. and is entering his second year writing for the newsmagazine. Outside of composing various articles, Sammy works as the presentation coordinator for Black, Gold and Green and volunteers at numerous community service projects such as the David Posnack JCC. As a die-hard Miami Heat and Dolphins fan, he loves tuning in to/attending any game he can in addition to playing both sports in his free time.

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