The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


New Faculty 2016-17

By Sports Editor Mustafa Ahmed, Web Editor Andrew Choi, Graphics Editor Victor Zhou, & Staff Writer Ella Chen

As a yearly tradition, the Smoke Signal interviewed the newest and returning faculty members in each department to welcome them to MSJ.

Jeana Nightengale
Assistant Principal Jeana Nightengale previously worked as a counselor for nine years at American High School and an assistant principal for one year. Her first administrative position was an assistant principal at Washington High School’s summer school last year. Nightengale is originally from a small country town in CA’s Central Valley, but after completing her master’s degree at Sonoma State University, she permanently relocated to the Bay Area, beginning her career as a high school counselor. She hopes to get to know all the students and staff during her first year at MSJ.

Fun Fact: Nightengale loves dancing and is currently learning how to dance international Latin ballroom. She enjoys traveling and just returned recently from a trip to Morocco.

Tanya Salazar
Ethnic Studies and World History Teacher Tanya Salazar is returning to MSJ after having previously attended the school as a high school student. After attending college, Salazar taught at Milpitas High School for 18 years before returning to her alma mater. According to Salazar, she took the excellent quality of education she received at MSJ for granted. Salazar looks forward to having interesting class discussions and working more closely with her students than she has in the past.

Fun Fact: Salazar briefly attended the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidates School.

Morgan Goldstein
English and Drama Teacher Morgan Goldstein is originally from Fremont and graduated from Washington High School. She did her undergraduate studies at Ithaca College, where she majored in English and Theater. Goldstein later received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater and Drama at Harvard University and has worked on various productions such as All Our Tragic and The Tempest. She received  her teaching credential at University of California, Davis, and is currently working on getting a master’s degree in education. Goldstein is especially looking forward to teaching 10th grade English and describes its curriculum as being one of her favorites.

Fun Fact: Goldstein enjoys making jam, marmalade, and other fruit preserves in her free time.

Herveline Sartori
French Teacher Herveline Sartori is returning to MSJ after a two-year break. Sartori attended a military school in France before moving to the US 17 years ago. She originally settled down in Chicago and later CA in 2009. Although she has taught elementary and middle school students before, she prefers teaching high school students. Sartori would like to see her students become proficient in French and learn more about French culture. She is saddened by how students at MSJ are often under a lot of pressure and hopes to see this situation change for the better in the future.

Fun Fact: Sartori coaches rugby and used to play the sport when she lived in France.

Spenser Peterson
MSJ welcomes Spenser Peterson back to the Social Studies Department. At the end of the 2015-16 school year, Peterson was surplused to Hopkins Junior High School, but after the departure of Ethnic Studies teacher Risha Krishna, he was given the opportunity to return again as MSJ faculty. He is teaching four periods of American Government and one period of US History.

Yumi Konishi
The Smoke Signal also welcomes back returning AP Japanese Teacher Yumi Konishi.

Shanti Kathiresan
Resource Specialist and Core Support Teacher Shanti Kathiresan grew up in Chennai, India and went to school there, before immigrating to the US in 1996. Kathiresan worked in curriculum enrichment at MSJ for 10 years before going back to school to get her credentials at the Fortune School of Education. She then worked at Newark Memorial High School for two years, before moving back to MSJ this year. She works first and second period at MSJ and spends the rest of her day at Irvington High School.

Fun Fact: Kathiresan loves to listen to Indian music in her spare time.

Melissa Kaeo
Physical Education Teacher Melissa Kaeo was born and raised in Hawaii, before moving to CA to pursue higher education at Whittier College. Kaeo continued her studies and obtained her teaching credential at California State University, Long Beach, and started as a substitute teacher in the Bay Area this spring. Before becoming a teacher, she taught swim lessons and managed swim schools in southern CA. Kaeo hopes to learn more about all of her students and to get them to enjoy physical activity outside of a classroom environment.

Fun Fact: Kaeo almost became a professional surfer but chose to go to college instead.

Michael Rasmussen
Special Education Teacher Michael Rasmussen joins the MSJ faculty for his first full year after teaching second semester last year. Rasmussen grew up in Watsonville before attending National Hispanic University in San Jose. After graduating, he worked in the snowboard industry for six years and then started his teaching career here at MSJ. Over the course of the school year,  he wants to develop his students into people that will be ready to tackle the world with a solid outlook on life.

Fun Fact: Rasmussen hangs up “tearable” puns outside his door.

Joyce Wong 
English Teacher Joyce Wong is a veteran to MSJ. She taught English 9H and 11H from 2003 to 2013 before taking a leave about three years ago due to the birth of twin girls. She loves the parent and student community at MSJ and is excited to be back teaching two periods of English 9H. Wong is from southern CA and got her undergraduate degree at University of California, Irvine, before getting her master’s degree at University of California, Berkeley. She looks forward to making sure her students understand the value of their education and that school is not about rote memorization, but life application.

Fun Fact: Wong is a self-proclaimed “lifelong baller.”

Tiffany Stelle
English Teacher Tiffany Stelle grew up in Fremont and attended Irvington High School. She spent her college years on many different campuses, including Sonoma State University, Ohlone College, Humboldt State University, and California State University, East Bay. Stelle worked as a campus monitor, attendance clerk, and school secretary before becoming an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) assistant at Kennedy High School. She has noticed the increased pressure to do well on tests such as the SAT and ACT, and as a result, one of her primary goals this year is to prepare her students to survive high school with a positive mental health outlook.

Fun Fact: Stelle was a dancer on Broadway San Jose.

Kelly Robinson
Student Resource Officer Kelly Robinson is from Kent, Washington. After graduating from Kentridge High School, Robinson attended Central Washington University. Robinson served for four years on patrol in the Fremont Police Department before becoming a school resource officer. He looks forward to getting to know the student body, creating a safer atmosphere at MSJ, and having students feel comfortable enough to stop by and talk about their issues.

Fun Fact: Robinson is a snowboarder and horror movie fan.

Bill Flaherty
Assistant Band Director Bill Flaherty is starting his first full year at MSJ, having joined a few weeks into the school year last year. After graduating from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, he turned his focus to teaching. He taught English and music in China and India, then returned to the US to get a Master of Music from Northern Illinois University. Flaherty only teaches sixth and seventh periods, as he is also Assistant Band Director at Hopkins Junior High School. He looks forward to working with the talented and hardworking students at MSJ and making good music.

Fun Fact: Flaherty has eaten fried duck beak in Burma before.

Photo by Sports Editor Mustafa Ahmed, Staff Writer Ella Chen, Web editor Andrew Choi, & Graphics Editor Victor Zhou,

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