PHS Profile: David Rosenfeld

photo: Caroline Smith

photo: Caroline Smith

Dr. David Rosenfeld is a psychologist at PHS and has worked in the district since 2001, when he started working at Riverside Elementary School, later moving to PHS in March 2010. He was drawn to psychology in high school after working with young students and then pursued this field in college, subsequently earning his doctorate at Rutgers University. Dr. Rosenfeld enjoys working with students, chaperoning field trips, and advising the Korean Club.

Why did you want to be a psychologist?

In my senior year of high school, we had to do an independent study at my school where you had to go out and do something community service-related, and I chose to work at an elementary school for kids with emotional and behavioral problems. And that got me very interested in the field of psychology … Then I majored in psychology at college. After I got my degree, I went and worked for three years in the field, again with kids with emotional and behavioral problems, and … from that experience, I knew that I definitely wanted to be a psychologist.

What do you like about psychology?

I love the idea that we can help ourselves to figure out … what’s blocking us from success, and being able to to help someone kind of figure out what’s getting in the way for them and that they have the power within themselves to address whatever that problem may be. So I really see the process of working with someone in counseling as a collaborative process—not something where I am the expert and I can tell people how they can make their lives better, but something where I am helping them figure it out by themselves.

What’s your favorite part about PHS and your job?

I love the students—[they’re] such an eccentric group … My favorite part of my day is sitting down to talk to students. I love being able to help students and manage the stresses of high school and feel successful here at PHS. One of the best parts of my job is [my] office [above the main entrance]; I’m afraid they’ll take it away from me at some point. I always tell students don’t cut classes because I’ll see [them]. Yeah, you catch a lot of stuff going on from my window. And now I have a plant in the window because … what I find especially in the winter months is [that] when the lights [are] on in here, and everyone’s walking in the darkness at 7:10 in the morning, everyone is looking at me [and waving], so [the plant gives] me a little privacy at least.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

I think the hardest part for me is just balancing the demands on any given day. One of the things I love about my job is you never know what each day is going to bring, but one of the hardest things about the job is [also] that you don’t know what each day is going to bring; and so sometimes you have a bunch of things all popping up on the same day, and it’s “How do I keep some balance?” and not get overwhelmed.

What are some observations that you have about high school life now compared to when you were in high school?

Well, I went to an all-boys school, so there’s a big difference there, but I think … the environment in high school now is much more supportive … I can remember as a high school student lots of experiences that would now be called bullying, lots of homophobic comments, racist comments, lots of stuff that was allowed to go on that would not be tolerated anymore in schools. So I feel like schools generally are safer places than they were when I was in school.

Have there been any trends or patterns that you’ve noticed over the years with PHS students?

I think students have become much more aware of their own emotions and in touch with their emotions, and able to talk about their emotions. Over the years, I think our culture has become much more sensitive [and encourages] … people to express themselves. I just remember when I was in high school there was this [huge] power differential between the teachers and students, and I just feel like [today] it’s much more collegial in some ways … There’s less of that power difference going on. I guess that would be the biggest difference.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy doing yoga, running, and working out, although I don’t do those as frequently as I would like to and should. I enjoy watching movies, watching TV in my spare time, [and] I like to read … Silence of the Lambs is sitting on my bookshelf. I also really like the stuff that Wally Lamb has written; [he] wrote a couple really good books. Right now I’m reading a book about what was going on with Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien and who was going to take over the Tonight Show—there’s a whole book about it which I’m really enjoying … I’m [also] a big puzzle guy … I have an 18,000-piece puzzle that I put together to hang on my wall at my house, so I like doing [puzzles] in my spare time … There’s a whole range of movies I like to watch, [and] it depends what I’m in the mood for … In terms of comedies, you can’t go wrong with the classics like Fletch or National Lampoon’s Vacation; that’s the age I grew up in.

Are you a big sports fan?

Yes—I like all the sports … although football and baseball are probably my favorites … I remember when the ball went through Buckner’s legs in 1986; it was my 13th birthday. So I suffered the pain of being a Red Sox fan for many years and being a Patriots fan. But right now, I’d say football is my favorite sport, and that’s what my Sundays are dedicated to.

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