Meet the New Teachers at PHS

Daniel Lee, Physics Teacher

Originally from Central New Jersey, Daniel Lee is currently a Physics and Science & Technology teacher at PHS. Lee grew up in Plainsboro and attended West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North. Currently, he is pursuing his masters degree at Rutgers University. Lee is in his third year teaching, having previously taught at Rutgers.

Lee believes that being a physics teacher requires a more hands-on, non-conceptual approaching in order to keep students engaged.

“The job itself will pretty much entail the ability to instill the curriculum in a way that is not [just] a lot of the concepts or ideas … but more the way that physicists think in the field,” said Lee. “We are moving towards a project-based learning curriculum, so we’re getting rid of most of the lecturing … It’s going to be a lot of hands-on stuff, [which will] hopefully [be] engaging and effective.”

At PHS, Lee wants to teach students not to shy away from classes like physics, because they are often less difficult than people make them out to be.

“I think that Princeton, like West Windsor-Plainsboro, has certain classes that people think are for smart kids only, and I certainly wasn’t a smart kid in high school. My goal is to reach out to that student population and try to get them to a place where they understand [the material],” Lee said.

Outside of the classroom, Lee enjoys cooking, gardening, and running. He is also a volunteer coach for PHS Cross Country team.

Favorite Movie: Moana

Favorite TV show: Bob’s Burgers

Dream Destination: Somewhere off a coast of an island

 

Mitchell Vaughn, Biology Teacher

photo by Anya Sachdev

Coming from previous work as an ecologist, Mitchell Vaughn is teaching Biology and Forensic Science at PHS for the first half of the school year, while Alexis Custer is away on maternity leave. Vaughn comes from Hillsboro, and graduated from Hillsboro High School. After high school, Vaughn attended TCNJ and later worked there, studying invasive species.

Though Vaughn is only at PHS for half of the year, he hopes to use his own experiences to broaden the mindsets of the students he teaches.

“I’m hoping to bring a different perspective for the students. I have my own background and have done my own things with ecology research, and so I am giving an additional perspective that they’re going to see the world through.”

Vaughn believes that an important part of being a biology teacher is inspiring students to ask questions.

“[As a biology teacher one must try] to foster that sense of curiosity and intrigue in students, to ask questions. I think it’s important to try and bring that enthusiasm for exploration to the table and try and get your students engaged in itas much as you have been,” Vaughn said.

Outside of school, Vaughn likes  running and reading. He also enjoys playing video games, and even created a competitive gaming club during his time at TCNJ.

 

Favorite Movie: Jungle Book

Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones

Dream travel destination: Space Station

 

Katie Dineen, Social Studies Teacher

photo by Anya Sachdev

Having previously taught in Long Island, Katie Dineen is joining PHS as a U.S. History I and AP World History and Cultures teacher. Dineen was raised in upstate New York and attended Wallkill Senior High School. She then attended St. John’s University in Queens, and did student teaching at Jamaica High School after graduation. After graduating, Dineen taught AP World and AP Macroeconomics at various high schools in Long Island.

Dineen thinks that the key to teaching history is connecting the past to the present in a meaningful way.

“It is not just about people who lived thousands of years ago, but how [those people are] actually changing the way we live today, and how those experiences shaped the world that we live in. It is really important that people can empathize with the struggles [others] had to face, and see the different perspectives of [these issues],” Dineen said.

She also believes that in spite of a lot of focus being shifted towards STEM fields recently, studying social studies is still extremely important.

“One of my favorite parts about [history] is the writing and being able to develop an argument and [selecting] the evidence that’s going to help prove your point. Social Studies has become that course that is something you have to do, but even if you’re an engineer, you have to be able to communicate [your ideas and reasoning]. We’re not just learning history; we’re learning life,” Dineen said.

In her free time, Dineen likes to travel, as oppose to vacationing. For her, she feels that traveling requires time and energy, while vacationing is much more relaxed. She also visits Disney World annually with her family.

 

Favorite TV Show: The Goldbergs

Favorite Movie: All the Star Wars movies

Vacation destination: China

 

Johanna Hunsbedt, Peer Group/English Teacher

photo by Anya Sachdev

A former PHS student, Johanna Hunsbedt currently advises Peer Group and will replace Robert Nelson’s as he retires in November. Hunsbedt will be teaching English II and IV. After transferring from Princeton University to Rutgers, she double majored in English and Political Science. She taught 7th grade English at John Witherspoon Middle School and homeschooled her children, Audrey ’20 and Oliver Hunsbedt ’17, prior to working at PHS.

Because she previously worked as an assistant teacher for sociology, Hunsbedt is able to draw from that experience to broaden her perspective when teaching English.

“One of the most exciting things about teaching or learning is when you see things start to overlap from different areas, and that really became clear when I started teaching in the history department,” said Hunsbedt. “It became really important for me to bring what I learned, especially from sociology, into English.”

She aims to make sure her students feel cared for, believing it to be the most important dynamic to establish in the classroom, she and wants her students to realize real-world applications for what they learn in English.

“I would hope to emphasize to my students how English as a subject isn’t just contained to the world of the classroom [and] how all the things we do in class will be relevant to their lives,” Hunsbedt said.

 

TV show? Homeland

Movie? Gladiator

Dream destination? Home

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