Ms. Samantha Leigh Alfonso did not initially have the intention to become a teacher. “I thought I wanted to be an Actuary — calculating risk. But, I got into teaching right after I graduated and just fell in love with it,” she said.
Born and raised in N.Y, Ms. Alfonso graduated from Byram Hills High School located in Armonk, N.Y. in 2005. After graduating, she attended the University of Miami majoring in mathematics and secondary education, while also participating in the lacrosse program.
She began teaching AP Statistics, Intensive Math, Algebra I, Algebra II and precalculus at a charter school called Hialeah Educational Academy in 2009. During this time she was also in the process of attaining her Masters degree for Mathematics from Nova Southeastern.
“When I took precalculus my sophomore year of high school, I got a C on my progress report card. I had never worked so hard for something as I did to raise that grade to an A. The teacher herself was so great, she applied precalculus and made it very fun. I always thought in the future that I’d end up becoming a teacher because of her,” Ms. Alfonso said.
In 2012 she helped open up a charter school, LBA Academy, where she taught for two years. Then, she began working for Florida Virtual School (FLVS), staying there for eight years. “I taught for them for four years and then they asked me to help write their AP Statistics course, so I was the Mathematics Content Writer for FLVS. I helped write the AP Stats, AP Calculus AB and BC and precalculus content for the past four years,” she said.
Ms. Alfonso decided to make the move to join Heritage’s faculty — teaching AP Statistics and Algebra 1 Honors— this year because she missed the in-class experience of teaching. “I missed the classroom. I missed teaching students and fostering a love of mathematics in kids, especially students who always struggled with math. [I wanted to see] their lightbulb moments, everything clicking and making them love math by the end of the year,” she said.
Instead of the traditional textbook method, Ms. Alfonso takes to implementing pop culture in her lessons to provide more relatable methods to teach her students statistics. “Ms. Alfonso is fantastic at making sure we understand each subject while being super relatable and understanding with her students. I feel like this year will be great in her class since she is so dedicated and just wants us to do well,” senior AP Statistics student Alejandra Abramson said.
Ms. Alfonso’s refreshing new approach has students looking forward to her class. “Even though the school year just started, I love having Ms. Alfonso as a teacher. Whether it be incorporating Harry Styles or Beyonce into our learning or celebrating her students with The Fridge in the back, she makes having math 7th period super fun with her enthusiasm and care,” senior AP Statistics student Aurora Lai said.
Heritage’s pristine reputation, as well as its talented and diverse student body served as the major reason why she decided to teach here. “No one has anything negative to say about American Heritage. I think it’s a great environment for students and values students as individuals. All the students are just so different and doing amazing things in their personal lives. The student population here is so different here than it is in any other school,” she said.
In addition to its students, Ms. Alfonso appreciates the welcoming nature of the school’s faculty and her fellow math teachers.
“Ms. Alfonso is a very dedicated math teacher and I am very excited to have her as part of our AP math team. I believe she brings her enthusiastic and joyful personality to her lessons and will make AP Statistics a very fun and enjoyable experience for the students. I think it will be a great year for both students and teachers in AP mathematics courses,” AP Calculus and Math Competition teacher Mr. Daniel Ariew said.
As a member of CrossFit— a fitness company that provides high intensity workouts— for over thirteen years, when Ms. Alfonso is not teaching, she can be found participating in active pursuits such as running, working out and traveling. Her passion to try new things and experience different cultures, ushers her to travel around the world to places including Israel, Australia, Paris, London and Mexico. “I love embracing new adventures and creating memories,” she said. On long weekends she travels to N.Y. to see her family including her twin brother and older sister.
As a new teacher this year, Ms. Alfonso hopes to “overall build a love of mathematics in all of her students.”