Pascack Hills alum is “excited to be back at the district”

Melissa+Szabo+is+teaching+the+Early+Childhood+and+Family+Development+class+after+previously+filling+in+for+family+and+consumer+science+teacher+Jessica+Andersen+in+2020.+Szabo+attended+Pascack+Hills+and+said+she+is+happy+to+now+be+teaching+at+the+district.

Ava Kim

Melissa Szabo is teaching the Early Childhood and Family Development class after previously filling in for family and consumer science teacher Jessica Andersen in 2020. Szabo attended Pascack Hills and said she is happy to now be teaching at the district.

Olivia Moreno, Staff Editor

Pascack Valley District teacher Melissa Szabo has had a passion for teaching children since she was in high school. This passion led to her taking the Early Childhood and Family Development class at Pascack Hills.

“I taught for over 10 years in early childhood, but it was more recently that I looked into Family Consumer Science,” Szabo said. “Being that it was an interest of mine because that’s where [my career] all began, I thought that I would continue to get my certificate in Family Consumer Science.”

Szabo graduated from PH in 1992. While in high school, she worked as a babysitter and camp counselor.

“All of my prior jobs, like little jobs when [I] first started to work, were based around children,” Szabo said. “I always enjoyed children and I took the class because it was offered with little ones.”

Szabo previously covered for Pascack Valley Family and Consumer Science teacher Jessica Andersen during her maternity leave from January to May 2020. 

“That year I [taught] four of the Early Childhood Family education classes,” Andersen said. “Szabo was a teacher taking over early childhood and preschool.”

Szabo will be teaching the Early Childhood and Family Development class at both PV and PH. Because there was no preschool last year, Szabo had to reapply for the position for the 2021-22 school year. 

“Because it was another year, they had to open it up [for other applicants],” Szabo said. “I also went back to school to get the certification for family and consumer science.”

After graduating from PH, Szabo went to William Paterson University for Elementary Education. She taught Early Childhood children at Our Lady of Mercy in Park Ridge for 10 years. Szabo said teaching high school students will be a new element in her career.

“I enjoyed going to [PH], so it will be interesting to be back,” Szabo said. “Now, the times are a little bit different, so I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.”

Szabo explained how there will be challenges due to coronavirus restrictions. In previous years, Early Childhood and Family Development students would learn by having preschool students at PV. Szabo will be teaching this course at PV and PH, but this year the preschool students will only be at PH.

“Unfortunately, there wasn’t any other space for the nurse to be able to go, so she’s still temporarily using our preschool classroom,” Andersen said. “And because of that, there was no location for us to actually bring the preschoolers. Her intent is to continue the way it would go with high schoolers creating lessons [for the preschoolers], but they’re just not going to teach them to the kids.”

Andersen said that she knows Szabo will be able to handle the changes as she has experience in early childhood education.

“I know that she has a strong background and actually taught preschool,” Andersen said. “She’s also an alumni from PH, so she’s well versed with our district and I think she’ll fit in great with our nice department team.”

Szabo said that she has noticed similarities in the schools now and when she was at PH.

“There’s always the different cliques and groups,” Szabo said. “Being an onlooker, I see the unity of high schoolers being together.” 

Szabo said she is excited to be back at the district despite the challenges presented due to the coronavirus.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the district, and to continue my passion for teaching,” Szabo said. “It’s nice to be back, and I know we’ll handle all the challenges as we go along.”

Olivia Moreno