New teachers thrilled to start at WJ this year


Photo by Noah Katcher

Olga (Lidia) Talavera, a new math teacher here at WJ, works at her computer while students complete a worksheet in her 3rd period Related Math class. Talavera is excited to be working at WJ this year.

Every year, WJ’s hallways are filled with hundreds upon hundreds of new students – coming from all different backgrounds. What many students overlook is the number of new staff members who join the WJ team every year. Just this year alone, WJ welcomed nearly 15 new teachers to its classrooms, with at least one new teacher in nearly every department.

English teacher Taraneh Azani is excited to be part of the WJ staff for her first time this year. Azani moved up to teaching high school after teaching at Westland Middle School but not too long ago, Azani made a big career swap. , She was a juvenile prosecutor six years ago. Azani made the change because she wanted to help kids succeed, learn and develop instead of putting them behind bars.

“I loved working in the courtroom and helping the victims of my cases. However, locking kids up was less than ideal… I decided to become a teacher to help students realize their worth and true potential,” Azani said.

Azani has already felt welcomed and at home just three weeks into the school year, and feels so lucky to be working at WJ, a school where there is very little turnover.

“I love the school spirit here, and the staff is so welcoming and friendly,” Azani said. “WJ’s reputation precedes itself. Everyone speaks so highly of the students, staff and [administrators].”

Another new staff member this year is physical education teacher Whitney Wolf. Coming to WJ with many years of teaching experience at Neelsville Middle School, Einstein High School and Northwood High School, Wolf is excited to be in a larger school with an even larger community. Wolf came to WJ for a change of scenery and to work with a great student body about which she heard so many wonderful things.

Wolf has always loved fitness and athletics, but that is just part of the reason for which she became a PE teacher.

“I knew in middle school I wanted to be a PE teacher and motivate and influence kids to live a healthy life!” Wolf said.

In addition to Wolf and Azani, WJ has welcomed new math teacher Olga (Lidia) Talavera to its team this year. Talavera previously taught at Herbert Hoover Middle School just around the corner from WJ, and already loves the independence and maturity high schoolers boast.

“Before WJ I taught middle school where the school was smaller and students required more guidance and supervision. I noticed that high school students are independent and take responsibility for their work,” Talavera said.

Talavera has also had quite a professional journey over the years. Ever since she was young, Talavera knew she wanted to work with numbers, and started her career as an actuary, after interning at GEICO. After having a few kids, Talavera found herself volunteering at her son’s school, and from there, she knew teaching was the career for her.

“When the time came to go back to work, I realized that being a teacher would make me happier because I enjoy helping students to enjoy math. It does help that I have the summers off too,” Talavera said.

Since both of her sons graduated from WJ, one just five short years ago, Talavera knows what a wonderful community there is here, and is so excited to get to know the staff and students better.

WJ students are also excited to be welcoming new teachers to the building this year. Senior Gabby Dangay is glad that there are new teachers joining the WJ team. With so many new students, nearly 700 freshman to be exact, new teachers are a necessity here at WJ.