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Passaic Valley Welcomes New Hornet Staff Members

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Kairi Leigh '23
1 December 2022

Mr. Brendan Clonan: Television Broadcasting Teacher; Advisor of A/V Club


Mr. Clonan; photo credit: Rae AllexPassaic Valley High School welcomed Mr. Brendan Clonan,  new Television Broadcasting teacher and A/V Club advisor, to the staff. Mr. Clonan is in charge of our audio communications and visual communications classes. In his classes, students work  with professional audio equipment, learn how to shoot and edit video, and create podcasts and other multimedia recordings.


“I want to be able to see what my students can do while in a fun and creative environment,” said Mr. Clonan. “I get to help kids go from knowing barely anything at all to them wanting to come back to this class, eager to learn more.” 


Being a hands-on class, Mr. Clonan likes to involve his students more than your “average '' high school class would require. His students are responsible for recording and documenting the school's special fun events, such as our Pep Rally, the Fall Play, Girls’ Show, concerts, and many more using the school’s professional equipment. As a result, Mr. Clonan stresses accountability, professionalism, and community in his classroom. It is his goal to get students more involved. Mr. Clonan also intends on bringing back our morning announcements to make them better than ever. 


Clonan went to college for TV Production in hopes of teaching students and sharing his personal love and experience with camera and audio work. Mr. Clonan also worked at Parsippany High School, teaching similar classes last year. Mr. Clonan always uses the words of Bob Ross to help his kids constantly strive to grow: “If you’re ever perfectly happy with a painting, then just quit.” The mentality is that as long as you’re still passionate, you won’t be complacent.

Mrs. O'Brien; photo credit: Rae Allex

Mrs. Kelly O’Brien: Director of Special Services


Mrs. Kelly O’Brien is Passaic Valley’s new Director of Special Services. She has been working in Special Services for seventeen years. Mrs. O’Brien worked as a Supervisor of Special Services at Clifton Public Schools and is now eager to continue her time here with our PV students. 


Mrs. O’Brien oversees the Child Study team and makes sure that teachers implement IEPs (Individualized Education Program) to provide all students with an environment conducive to learning and growth. Mrs. O’Brien is passionate about making sure students enjoy their time in high school, using her experiences and knowledge to make that possible.


Mrs. O’Brien’s job is not only important but exciting, busy, and challenging. Her position is a great way to help make positive changes and have an impact on her students' lives, both in the present and for the future.


She hopes to be able to learn more about the school and other teachers, as well as her students to help increase the positive environment of PV.  “Everyone has been very nice, supportive and helpful,” says O’Brien. “I find it to be a really great experience, so I’m glad that I came.”


Ms. Olivia Pantale: Speech Language Pathologist


Ms. Pantale; photo credit: Rae AllexAt the start of the school year, Passaic Valley welcomed Ms. Olivia Pantale, Speech Language Pathologist. She hopes to make a positive change in her students’ lives by helping them understand and express themselves through language. 


Ms. Pantale is always mindful of her students' individual needs. “My teaching philosophy is to put the students first and see how each student is feeling on a particular day. There will be days where I have an entire lesson plan mapped out, but what I have learned from experience is that it might not be the student’s day that day. And that is okay,” Ms. Pantale said. “We all have our days that seem more difficult than others, so it is important for me to be flexible with the sessions and think about how to make each session as meaningful as possible.” Ms. Pantale likes to make her sessions as interactive as possible, believing that engagement is an essential part of learning. 


Pantale attended St. John's University for college, where she was on the track and field team. During her college years, she was able to start growing her career working with children as young as three years and as old as ninety-six.


Ms. Pantale was already familiar with the Hornet community, as her father, Mr. William Pantale, has worked as a School Counselor for over thirty years. “I really enjoy working with my dad. He was the one who let me know that there was a position available here and when I got the job he showed me around the building,” she said. “It is awesome to be a part of the Hornet community with my dad.”

Ms. Maria McMahon: Theatre Arts and Dance Teacher, Choreographer


Ms. McMahon; photo credit: Rae AllexPassaic Valley high school welcomed Ms. Maria McMahon, Theatre Arts and Dance Teacher, to the teaching staff. Most recently, she was Co-Director and Choreographer for the Fall production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, alongside Mrs. Surace.


Mrs. McMahon loves working with her students and the rest of the PV staff. “The community here is so supportive,” she said. “The students and staff have been so accepting.” 


Since dance is an expressive medium, Mrs. McMahon grants her students as much creative freedom as she can. “The atmosphere is collaborative and supportive, and welcoming new ideas to the table and finding new ways to teach theatre and dance in a collaborative environment has been so rewarding,” she said.


Ms. McMahon has been teaching Theatre and Dance for eight years throughout New York and New Jersey and performing professionally for five years before transitioning fully to teaching and choreographing. In college, she took her first choreography job, where she found the creative process extremely fulfilling. She is so excited to be a part of the creative process for the PV shows and inside her classroom.