As you walk around the halls of EHHS, you may come in contact with an unfamiliar face. Mr. Jesse Hegener, U.S. History teacher for sophomores and juniors, is the latest and greatest addition to the East Haven school community!
While it may only be his first year at EHHS, this is definitely not Mr. H’s first rodeo in the education field. Having initially obtained a Bachelor’s in science and psychology, his direction quickly changed, as his final semester of history courses in college led him to develop a greater appreciation for the subject. “History is like telling a story, and I like telling stories,” Mr. Hegener shares. “I felt like I could make it interesting and exciting for students. The further I got into it, the more I enjoyed it.” In 2017, Mr. Hegener took on a student-teaching opportunity at Rocky Hill High School that ultimately furthered his passion for the profession. This ‘beautiful experience’ essentially pushed him to continue teaching and allowed a support system to develop behind him. In the last year, he instructed at a K-8 middle school in Hartford prior to applying for the long term position here in East Haven.
At the end of the 2018-19 school year, social studies teacher, Ms. Ann Bodurtha, officially retired. This left EHHS instructional leader, Mr. Joseph Marangell, with an important position to fill. A job listing was posted over a two week period in which nearly 100 applicants submitted their resumes, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. A team of teachers and administrators came together to eventually narrow this number down to three; one of whom being Mr. Hegener. At this stage of the game, the candidates were invited back to teach a twenty minute demo lesson to a group of students who volunteered to participate over the summer. The rules were left open, aside from the stipulation that the lecture should revolve around the atomic bomb. At the end of the session, Mr. Hegener was a clear stand-out to both the students and the administration. Siya Patel, a participant in the mock-class, recalled, “What stood out to me the most was Mr. Hegener’s very positive and friendly attitude. He came prepared with a lesson plan that kept all of the students there, including myself, very much engaged.” The committee admired that he promoted student-learning through problem solving and research; two of the goals that the history department is working to expand upon.
Originally from Manchester, CT, Mr. Hegener grew up surrounded by multiple teachers that allowed him to recognize the value of teaching. These teachers took the time to work one-on-one with him to shape him into the person he is today. Mr. Hegener pridefully mentioned, “I’ve come to understand that teachers are human; I am human. I really appreciated what they could do for me and how they would work to get me to be the best that I could be.” It is easy to see the impact that these educators have had on him, as many of these characteristics are now visible in his own teaching.
When asked what they like most about Mr. Hegener, the most prevalent response amongst students had to do with his hospitality and relatable nature. Junior, Bella Pilato, shared, “I like that he understands his students and is always asking how you’re feeling and how your day has been.” This is something that Mr. Hegener puts strong emphasis on when asked about his teaching; he sees great benefits in spending his time getting to know his students as best as he possibly can. Whether it is by regularly attending sporting events, or simply taking a few minutes at the start of every class to see how everyone is doing, Mr. Hegener wants his kids to feel as comfortable and supported as possible.
Everyone at EHHS loves Mr. Hegener and sees him as a great asset to our school atmosphere. He is incredibly enthusiastic about his job and is already building strong relationships with both his co-workers and his students. Junior, Sienna Demaio, stated, “He has a very positive and happy energy all the time, which makes the class have a better attitude. I think that all teachers should be as enthusiastic as him.” Mr. Hegener wants to give back to the world and his community over the course of his time at EHHS. He hopes to leave a lasting mark on each and every student, much like how his own teachers have. “You can ask any of my students, I tell them everyday: I’m happy and excited to be here. They are all valued and appreciated.”