Tag Archives: New Teachers

Leaving then returning – The path for many Mount teachers

Most high school students would usually go through their four years of school, go to college, and then move on from their school life, but what about those who come back? Ever since MSJ was established back in 1876, they have taught thousands of young men to prepare them to become the men God intends them to be. Unbeknownst to them, many students would come back to MSJ to teach the next generations of students. What is it that makes the former students come back though? What, or who gave, them the idea to come back? Is it some sort of calling?

Theology teacher Mr. Stromberg is the perfect person to talk to about your calling, as well as Mr. Felts. Both were students at MSJ, where they participated in class and extracurricular activities and then came back to the Mount to teach. Their way back to MSJ might not have been the path they were expecting, but it was a welcomed one at the least. 

Mr. Stromberg’s Theology class

Mr. Stromberg’s journey at MSJ started in 2013 when he was a freshman. After four years, he graduated in 2017, but his time at MSJ was not over. When Covid-19 struck, he got contacted by MSJ. “Because of Covid kind of, I was able to do a guest lecture with Mrs. Abdo and Mrs. Hubbard,” said Mr. Stromberg. “I loved it so much, and then they brought up, ‘We’re doing junior retreat this year still, you should come back as an alumni,’ and I was like ‘Yeah, that’d be absolutely amazing.’” His way back to MSJ was just beginning. 

Mr. Stromberg went on junior retreat as an alumn, which was one of the callings trying to bring him back to MSJ. “I know I love Saint Joe, but moments like that help me remember why I love Saint Joe so much.” Not only was he able to go on junior retreat once when he was a student, but now twice as an alumn. 

“I was sitting down doing homework, and I get a text from Mr. Bonham, ‘Mrs. Hubbard is leaving, would you like to come back and teach?’” He knew what his answer was but needed a second opinion. “Short answer, yes. I would love to come back to Saint Joe, but could I have some time to reflect and pray on this.” After some time of thinking, he reached out to Mr. Shearer and asked for advice. “He gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten in my life, and he said, ‘Take the next two days and pretend like you said yes to them. After those two days, if it feels good that you said yes to that decision, it’s probably a good sign.’” He realized that this was the right decision and the one that he wanted to pursue. “I really felt like this is what I’m being called back to be with.”

“Take the next two days and pretend like you said yes to them. After those two days if it feels good that you said yes to that decision, it’s probably a good sign.”

Mr. Stromberg

Mr. Felts’ also came back to teach at St. Joe, where he had his own calling. He started his journey at MSJ in 2003 and graduated in 2007. “I loved my time here as a student,” said Mr. Felts. After he left high school, he went to college, where he majored in English and minored in Theology. Throughout his time in college, he kept in touch with Brother James, who had been one of his teachers. “He let me know about an opening for theology,” Mr. Felts said, so he then applied for that role. “I always wanted to be a teacher, wanted to be back here teaching, and so I took that opportunity.” Brother James was the reason why Mr. Felts knew about the opening, and because of him, he was able to return to MSJ and follow that calling of coming back. 

Both Mr. Stromberg and Mr. Felts had a calling to come back to MSJ to teach, and be a part of the Mount’s legacy. Everyone has, or will have, their own calling which will grab them to do something they want to do. Maybe you’ve played a sport all your life and many people say that you should pursue that – that would be a calling to practice more at that sport. Maybe you like art, and you keep on getting inspired to make something. That’s a calling. It might not be as easy to hear that call, but if you take moments to reflect on it and say yes to an opportunity, it’s the right decision if that yes feels good. 

Cooper Funk is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

Mr. Alfieri’s advice to aspiring musicians: “If there’s an opportunity, go for it.”

Mr. Michael Alfieri, the Mount’s new band and music teacher. (Photo Credit: Ben McElroy)

Michael Alfieri, the new band and music teacher at Mount Saint Joseph High School, is partway through his first year at the Mount. He has been teaching for many years prior to joining the school’s faculty, and has a passion for music practically unrivaled by most teachers here. He has infused the band with his talent and expertise, turning it into a talented and committed group that sounds amazing.

The MSJ band performing during the annual school-wide pep rally. Photograph from the MSJ Quill

While Mr. Alfieri has a long history of teaching music, a lot of it took place in a much larger city, with many more students to teach: New York City. “I actually taught in New York before this. I taught in a school in Brooklyn, and at another in Long Island. And I was also teaching private lessons this whole time, so I was working in music stores, working with kids independently,” says Alfieri when asked about his previous work history. He said he really enjoyed this job, and he would not have left New York if his girlfriend had not gotten a job at John’s Hopkins University. She was assigned John’s Hopkins on the program’s match day, when every medical student is given an envelope designating them to a certain school or institution.

Mr. Alfieri has enjoyed his time at the Mount thus far, especially the devotion of the students to their craft. Photo Credit: Ben McElroy

Michael Alfieri has settled into this job quite nicely, and is having a great time so far. “I have never met such an invested group of students, and I love working with a group that wants to work with me and helps me as much as I help them,” reflects Alfieri. “They really push themselves to improve and don’t just do the minimum to scrape by,  like I have experienced in the past.” He also said he enjoyed working alongside the faculty and staff here at the Mount, saying that they are “so helpful and willing to teach me all there is to know about this school.” It is clear that Mount Saint Joseph is very supportive of their new teachers, and this is something that Mr. Alfieri enjoys about the school.

Mr. Alfieri playing with the band “Freaks No Geeks”.
Credit from https://www.mikealfieri.net/gallery.html

Mr. Alfieri also recommended some things for people pursuing a career in music. He emphasized that the musicianship must be top-notch, and you must be willing to try new experiences. “Say yes to a lot of different things, if there’s an opportunity go for it,” he said, “it may not be exactly what you want to do, it may not be your dream job, but it gives you the experience.” This is something that can apply in many other fields as well, and it is something that Mr. Alfieri has used to his advantage throughout his career. He specified that he learned instruments that he wasn’t necessarily a master at, but knowing how to play them has ended up helping him later on in life.

Michael Alfieri playing his signature instrument, drums. Photo by Jazz Photography

Mr. Michael Alfieri is an extremely talented musician, and has already impacted the students in his classes, with one of his students in his guitar class saying, “I have Mr. Alfieri as a teacher, and I really enjoy learning from him…He makes music fun, and keeps me entertained and excited to learn more.” It is clear to see Mr. Alfieri is doing something right to get his students excited about their music classes. His passion and skill have definitely inspired people to learn more about music at the Mount, and hopefully, his work continues to positively impact the school, and the students he works with.


Ben McElroy is a junior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Ms. Jenna Gallagher: “MSJ has offered me many opportunities to improve as a teacher”

MSJ Yearbook Photo of Ms. Jenna Gallagher

Going into my senior year, I realized what I might want to do for a living when I get older. I’m seriously considering a career as a math teacher for younger students. Coming from a Baltimore City public middle school, the private school environment is a huge change. My experience in middle school was filled with memories but the education I was getting was filled with nothing. The teachers at Saint Joe make sure you understand the material and are willing to meet with you if you don’t understand it.

Ms. Jenna Gallagher is one of the mathematics teacher at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, Maryland. She has been teaching at the school for four years, and has definitely had an impact on my learning of math. Over the course of my four years at MSJ, I have had Ms. Gallagher as teacher once for Algebra II.

To find out more about the experience of being a math teacher, and the path to becoming a teacher in general, I talked to Saint Joe math teacher, Ms. Jenna Gallagher. Also, I wanted to understand why and how she became a teacher. It can be hard sometimes choosing the right career path, but if you know a few things you might want to do, you can narrow it down after you have finally decided. “When I went into college I knew that I wanted to major in either math or education.  I ended up majoring in math because the school that I chose had a good math program. After I graduated from college, I decided that I wanted to put math and education together and I became a math teacher.”

Senior, Connor Rudel, getting tutoring during his free period from mathematics teacher, Ms. Gallagher.

“I had a difficult time choosing a school during my senior year of high school.  I narrowed my options down to UMBC, Mount Saint Mary’s University, and the University of Delaware. Out of the three options, UMBC had the best mathematics program and was financially the best option.” In the transition from high school to college, choosing the right school to go to can be a tough decision, but if you choose right, it can lead you to your calling in life.  

Another factor teachers have to put into play is what kind of school to teach at. “When I decided on UMBC, I did not think that I was going to become a teacher. I had decided that I was going to major in math and I thought that I was going to use my math degree in some other manner. When I graduated, I realized I did not necessarily want a job in the mathematics field and then I decided that I would look into private schools.”  Whether that be at a public or private middle or high school or a public or private university is up to the teacher. Generally speaking, public school teachers get paid more than private school teachers, and college professors get paid more than the two. 

Mount Saint Joseph has a reputation for having a good teaching environment. Most of the teachers at St. Joe have been at the school for over five years. Gallagher is in her fourth year of teaching at MSJ, and the students recognize that she is doing a good job in growing into the life of the school. “MSJ has offered me many opportunities to improve as a teacher.  One of the main things that they have provided me with is the opportunity to go to graduate school and grow as a professional.  Since I have been at MSJ, I have obtained my Master of Arts in Teaching. This has helped me because of all the feedback that I was able to receive.” 

Teachers can also help shape the character of their students. Connor Rudel, a senior, said, “I would describe myself as a hard working persistent student because I always go to teachers for help when I need it and I continue to go until I understand. I persevere through all my hard work.”

Senior, Connor Rudel, working on a math quiz.

Rudel continued, “Ms. Gallagher is a great teacher and she explains everything in depth. And she doesn’t teach vaguely and she makes sure all of her explanations are clear. Her teaching environment is relaxing so you don’t ever feel like somebody is on your back. You don’t feel rushed while she is teaching you.” Ms. Gallagher interacts with her students and enables them to get involved during class. If the student doesn’t understand some of the material, she makes time for them to see her for before or after school tutoring.

At St. Joe, students often have the opportunity to have a teacher again for a different class. The teachers at MSJ usually teach more than one class and depending on the course selected by the student, they could have the same teacher again. Some students would like to have a teacher for another year but are sometimes unable to. “I would definitely choose to have her as a teacher again, because on Junior Retreat I got to know Ms. Gallagher a lot better than I did before and in class, you don’t really talk about personal things. I developed a better relationship with her over time. And she made math a lot easier for me.”

It is obvious that Ms. Gallagher is positively impacting the lives of her students on a daily basis. From class, to retreat experiences, to organizing the Sarah M. Roach tutoring that students participate in, Ms. Gallagher shows her dedication to the school and to her students in everything she does. But of course, if you are struggling with your math, she is always available to help you through that too.

DB8F4CD6-4B3E-42E4-8F57-870397834107Justin Cruz is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.






A graduate of Loyola-Blakefield, Mr. Shawn Turner’s path leads him to The Mount

During the interview process, Mr. Turner became convinced of the positives of Mount Saint Joseph High School. Photo Credit: Christian Avara

Mr. Shawn Turner, one of the newer teachers here at the Mount has a lot to offer, for not only the students and the faculty, but the mathematics department as well. I was given the chance to speak with Mr. Turner to learn more about him as a teacher, and as a person, and to come away with a better understanding as to why he came to teach at Mount Saint Joseph High School.

Mr. Turner told me first, the reason he came here to Mount Saint Joseph High School, was due to his interview with Mount Saint Joseph Principal Mr. David Norton. “Circumstances played out that I really wanted to be a part of this community after my interview with Mr. Norton.” Mr. Norton told him that Mount Saint Joseph will stand by justice and will condemn any kind of injustice or unwelcoming behavior in the school. Mr. Turner said that a lot of the schools that he applied to did not really have this type of statement. “A lot of the schools where I applied did not have that solid of an admission.” Mr. Turner said that he knew that Mount Saint Joseph, because of this policy, was not just a normal high school.  Mr. Turner said that Mr. Norton believed we are doing good things for the world and that we have men that really do matter. “When Mr. Norton said that I knew that Mount Saint Joe was not just a normal high school, we were trying to do some things that were for the good of the world so that we have men that actually matter.”

Mr. Turner works at the board with one of his math classes. Photo Credit: Christian Avara

In my interview with Mr. Turner, I also found out more insight into what really led him to want to start teaching in the first place. Mr.Turner started out by saying that when he was young he would like to teach his younger siblings in his room. Mr. Turner got a chalkboard from his mom, and he and his siblings would pretend that they were in class and Mr. Turner was the teacher. Mr. Turner’s grandmother when he was in first grade would make him check her spelling, “we had spelling tests and my grandmother instead of making me spell words would tell me to check her spelling of words, to see if it was correct or incorrect. So I got a very early start in checking papers.” Mr. Turner also got to check his aunt’s papers and would teach when she was not teaching. Soon Mr. Turner realized that he liked what he was doing and enjoyed the prospect of teaching.

“I am paving the way for my younger brother, I am paving my way as an African American teacher for other African American male teachers, for you all, and for you all and the way that I teach, and I am paving the way for your understanding of Mathematics. I have to be a model for that kind of thing.” – Mr. Shawn Turner

Mr. Turner said that in college he did not pursue teaching, but he did pursue mathematics. He also said that he did a lot of internships in college, teaching at middle schools and elementary schools. Despite what many students assume, Mr. Turner did not attend Mount Saint Joe, instead attending Loyola-Blakefield for high school, but he did say a lot of the values of the Jesuits are similar to the Xavier Brothers. He said that he likes how at Mount Saint Joseph those values seem to merge, “we say ‘Men Who Matter’ here, guys in Jesuits schools say ‘Men who form with others’.”

Mr. Turner also told me a little about his personal life. He told me that here at Mount Saint Joseph one of our fundamental statements is to be the man who God intends you to be. Mr.Turner said that in his world that “we stand on the shoulders of giants” and “to whom much is given much is required.” Mr. Turner said that he loves that in his family,  everyone seems to support one another. “When things really [go badly], we are always a phone call away, a block away, or a car ride away.” Mr. Turner also said that he has realized that the things that he does in his life will have an impact on future generations. “I am paving the way for my younger brother, I am paving my way as an African American teacher for other African American male teachers, for you all, and for you all and the way that I teach, and I am paving the way for your understanding of Mathematics. I have to be a model for that kind of thing.” Mr. Turner also said “I am always giving to people what I expect to be given to me.”

Picture taken by Senior Christian Avara

Towards the end of the interview Mr. Turner said that he considers himself to be a very consistent person and that he cares a lot about what he does. “I’m real, I love hard, I fight hard, I care hard and a lot of that has shifted from my upbringing as a “Baltimorean.” Mr. Turner talked about how he has had to deal with injustices in his life and how that has led him to be where he is now, adding, “I am standing on the shoulders of giants so those who gave to me, I am paving the way for the next generation you, the guys younger than you, that I am going to become a giant to whose shoulders others can stand.”

I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to interview Mr. Shawn Turner to learn more about him and I think the school is blessed to have Mr. Turner as a teacher here at Mount Saint Joseph High School. His life path has made him the teacher that he is, and he is hoping to share that journey with his students as they move beyond the walls of St. Joe.

27014646-FE85-44EE-92D4-B74FACD2E6C8Christian Avara is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.






From MSJ Student to Coach: Kyle Reagan ’00

Mr. Kyle Reagan works with one of his DePaul students.

The 2017-2018 school year here at Mount Saint Joseph is welcoming a large number of new teachers and faculty members. One specifically is Mr. Kyle Reagan, or in the track team’s case, Coach Reagan. Coach Reagan is working in the DePaul Center, but he is also coaching cross country. Prior to his return to Saint Joe, he coached at Maryvale Preparatory School while he was a Phys Ed teacher at a local middle school. He was an assistant coach for cross country as well as a coach for track and field. In track, he coached mainly sprinters but also long, triple, and high jumpers. While he spent his time at Maryvale, he was a part of coaching 2 cross country championship games, two indoor track championships, and one outdoor championship. He also coached 6 different high jumpers who were conference champions over 8 years.

Coach Kyle Reagan graduated from the Mount in 2000 and claims it to be “the greatest graduating class” from Mount Saint Joseph. From his freshman to senior year, he ran cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track, totaling up to twelve total seasons of running. In fact, the Mount’s current cross country coach, Coach Peach was his track coach senior year of high school. In track he ran the 800-meter race up to the 2 mile. When he was in high school, his favorite subjects were Chemistry and Physics.

After Coach Reagan’s departure from the Mount in 2000, he went on to go to college at Salisbury and then transferred to Towson. He continued his running career both at Salisbury and Towson, but running longer distances of 5k’s and 10k’s instead of 800 meters.

Mr. Kyle Reagan, Class of 2000, now teaches in DePaul and coaches Cross Country.

Now after 17 years since his graduation, Coach Reagan is back as a teacher and a coach instead of a student and an athlete. He hopes to have the same impact on students that other teachers had on him while he attended the Mount. He’s happy to be back, and hopes he can continue the excellence in the track program that Mount Saint Joseph has had for a long time now. He is ready to take on this runner-up track team and get that championship back. Ironically, Maryvale lost the outdoor track championship as well just like Saint Joe, getting second place. He said it hurts that he didn’t finish off his time at Maryvale with a win but is ready to get that bitter taste out of his mouth by putting together a Saint Joe track team that will be “well coached and will work hard.”

Mount Saint Joseph welcomes Coach Reagan back and is ready to see what he has in store for this track team in his return as a Gael.

Ms. Bastidas: Drawn to Baltimore’s Community of Artists

Ms. Jessica Bastidas is originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

With a new year starting at MSJ, the newest additions to the MSJ community arrive. Since several teachers unfortunately left, St. Joe had to accommodate for the incoming class of 2021. With several new teachers joining the faculty family, each has his or her own creative flair to add to this community.

When talking about creativity, most people tend to think about art. Our newest addition to the art department, Ms. Bastidas, brings her own creative flair to the department and to her classes. Ms. Bastidas is from Bethlehem, PA, and came to the city of Baltimore to pursue her degree in art and teaching. After interning under Mr. Bieniek and seeing the strong community of the school as well as the individual talent of the students, Ms. B knew that MSJ is where she wanted to teach. She hopes to be able to have a positive impact on students and their ability to express themselves through art. Her main goal is to help students get out of the “MSJ bubble,” to have them explore new forms of art and, if possible, to show them galleries and let them experience the world of art. Ms. B has also stated her love for the Catholic ideals, Xaverian values, the creativity of the students, and the school’s individuality as a whole, which make MSJ what it is.

Ms. Bastidas says one of her main goals is to help students get out of the “MSJ Bubble.”

Ms. B isn’t just teaching here at MSJ: she also teaches two summer classes at the Baum School and the Banana Factory in PA. While Ms. Bastidas isn’t teaching, she travels around the world learning new types of art styles and forms from diverse communities. Ms. Bastidas learned and loved the way in which communities around the world create art that is dear to them even though they have limited resources. This is one of the many reasons as to why Ms. Bastidas loves the great city of Baltimore: “I love the community of artists, it doesn’t feel pressured and is supportive to new and rising artists. It’s not as competitive as let’s say, NYC. There are a lot of opportunities for community artwork.”

We welcome one of the newest teachers here at MSJ and the creative flair she’ll bring to our community.