by Lily Jacobson ’24
Eleven new teachers and faculty members joined the Leffell High School kehilah this year. Science teacher Aaron Kogut, Physical Education and Health teacher Fabio Janeiro and Hebrew teacher Milka Beck are just a few. Although these three teachers teach different subjects, they have more in common than one might think.
Kogut originally planned to become a dentist, but after finishing his undergraduate degree, he chose to take a gap year in San Diego, where he took a teaching fellowship instead.
“I realized that teaching is so in me, it is something that I love to do, and it is something that I think comes naturally for me,” Kogut said. “It was a great fit, and I am so glad that the gap year allowed me to go in that direction.”
Beck grew up in Bet Hatikva, a city near Tel Aviv. When she was younger, she placed her dolls against a wall, and would constantly try to “explain” things to them. During elementary school, when there was an upcoming test, everyone in her class came to her house and reviewed the concepts to help them prepare.
“Teaching just came naturally to me; I enjoy it,” Beck said.
Kogut and Beck both taught at Westchester Day School as middle school teachers before coming to The Leffell School.
“The previous schools that I have worked at have all been Orthodox, so coming here to a Pluralistic community school has been really great for me,” Kogut said.
Kogut’s own high school science teacher was an integral part of wanting to become a science teacher himself.
“She was an amazing teacher,” Kogut said. “She was one of those people that was real with us, she talked to us very openly about so many different things; she just made science so interesting to me.”
Both Kogut and Janeiro enjoy watching TV shows and movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“I’m a big Marvel fan; my goal is to watch all of them in order and find the connections,” Janeiro said.
Kogut, Janeiro and Beck were all born in different countries and know a variety of languages. Kogut grew up in Montreal speaking French. After finishing high school, he went to a Yeshiva in Israel for two years, where he learned to speak fluent Hebrew and then came to New York to continue his studies.
“It certainly comes in handy to speak other languages; the value system of learning other languages is very beneficial,” Kogut said.“I am also fluent in Hebrew, and I have found that to be incredibly helpful when I travel abroad.”
Although Beck did not plan to become a Hebrew teacher, she decided it was her vocation after completing a master’s in teaching from Middlebury Language Schools.
“I’m passionate about it, (bringing) modern Hebrew to students and helping them to feel connected to Israel and to the Jewish people,” Beck said. “One of the things that keep us united is to share a common language.”
Before coming to TLS, Janeiro used to be the Physical Education and Athletic Director at Success Academy in New York City. Janeiro was born in Portugal and he moved to Mamaroneck when he was 10-years-old. As a child, he enjoyed playing soccer and socializing with other kids through various sports in PE class, which inspired him to become a PE teacher.
“Putting those two things together of playing sports, being active, working with kids, pointed me in this direction,” Janeiro said. “The biggest difference from my perspective as a PE teacher working in the city is that here, the facilities here are a lot better and bigger.”
Some of his hobbies include traveling, playing soccer, spending time with his 7-month-old child, and watching episodes of the TV show “Ted Lasso.”
“I try to put that into my coaching style,” Janeiro said. “I think there are a lot of positive things that come from that show.”
Although this is only his first year at TLS, Janeiro has many positive memories already.
“My favorite highlight was getting our first win for the boys soccer team,” Janeiro said. “In school, getting to know the kids and their names and personalities, making those relationships and connections has been really nice.”