EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — As we continue welcoming students back to school, so much of the school year will look similar to last year. Students will be in masks and remain socially distanced but some things are different. For instance, at East Hartford High School, they’ve hired 12 new educators.  

Jerry Zhu is a newly hired Chinese teacher. He became a teacher after having such an inspiring teacher himself in high school. Zhu tells News 8, “The biggest reason I want to be a teacher is actually because of my teacher.”  

Zhu moved to America in 2011 and worked to learn the English language. His teacher helped him throughout high school and now he hopes to be that same person for students at East Hartford High School.

Cameren Judge is a newly hired ninth-grade school counselor. He knows that after a pandemic year there is a lot of pressure for him, “As a counselor, I have to deal with the academic and the social-emotional.”  

His main goal is to be as present and available as possible, “As soon as I can get out of the office, I walk around the school just introducing myself to teachers introducing myself to students.”  

Principal Matt Ryan says, “Teachers are the most important person to kids.” For him, he wants East Hartford High School to continue to focus on community and building relationships. He is confident his new hires will prioritize each of the goals he has for his school.  

Amy Bryant is a newly hired business education teacher and for her, “it’s this drive in me that I always need to be available for students.”  

She tells News 8, after a year of disconnect she’s hoping to reconnect her students while they’re in class with her.  

Finally, Kevin Sayour is a newly hired choir and general music teacher for the high school. With the pandemic, music class was much different.

He’s hoping despite guidelines and restrictions due to COVID-19 he can make kids feel comfortable again, “If I can make a place where they feel they can sing and be comfortable and get back to the things they love to do that’s a successful year for me.”