New Teacher Spotlight: Welcome to the Chaminade Family

by Dylan Long ‘23 and Michael Byrne ‘23

Chaminade High School welcomes six new teachers to its faculty this school year.

Ms. Crystal Cepeda – English I

Ms. Crystal Cepeda is the newest member of the English department. She teaches freshman English and is the moderator of the Homeroom 1A Alphas. 

Cepeda grew up in a rough neighborhood of the Bronx riddled with gang violence and, because she was not allowed outside much, she spent much of her childhood at her school, where her love for English grew. She graduated from Aquinas High School in the Bronx and taught there from when she graduated college to when the school closed last year. Cepeda obtained a bachelor’s degree at the College of Mount Saint Vincent and a master’s degree at Lehman College. 

Cepeda is excited for her new endeavors at Chaminade. She moderates the Speech section of the Speech and Debate team, and is eager to immerse herself in the Chaminade community. “I am especially excited to see hockey games,” Cepeda said. “I am also very interested in the arts, and can’t wait to see the Christmas Concert, and Romeo and Juliet drama play.” 

She is also grateful to work with the Marianists, explaining, “I’ve known Catholic schools my whole life and I am excited to work in a school with the same values that I have.” 

Mr. Domenick Ciaccio ‘00 – Advanced Language & Composition, English II, Advanced Fine Arts

Mr. Domenick Ciacco ‘00 is joining both the English and Fine Arts Departments. This year, Ciaccio teaches Advanced Fine Arts to seniors, Advanced Language and Composition to juniors, and English 10 to sophomores. 

A Chaminade alumnus, Ciacco graduated from Hofstra University with degrees in film studies/production and creative writing. His passion for teaching initially grew during his time at Chaminade, revealing, “I didn’t appreciate my time at Chaminade, until I left and entered college.” Although English was not always his best subject, Ciaccio grew to love literature and composition during college. People like Mr. Phillip Lopate, his creative writing professor, inspired him to teach.

Ciaccio is happy to be back at Chaminade teaching so that he can impart the same wisdom he once received. Prior to teaching at Chaminade, he worked at both Nassau and Suffolk Community College, teaching composition and technical writing courses. Ciaccio is excited to help out as a coach of the Debate team and looks forward to starting a Creative Writing Club. 

Mr. Richard DeMarco ‘12 – Global Studies I 

Mr. Richard DeMarco ‘12 is another alum who is back to Chaminade as a teacher. A Garden City native, he describes his experience at Chaminade as impactful, saying, “My time at Chaminade was great. At Chaminade I was able to have relationships with my teachers and they left a huge impact on me, and are part of the reason that I chose to teach.” 

After Chaminade, DeMarco went on to Georgetown University, graduating from there in 2016 and from St. John’s Law School in 2019. 

This year, DeMarco is teaching Global Studies I. He first discovered his love of history at Chaminade, as a leader in the Social Studies Club, and continued his passion as a history major in college. “I am excited to teach in the place where I was a student,”  said DeMarco. “I can actually really relate to my students, as I was once one of them.” As moderator of the 1E Elbows, head moderator of the freshman section of the Social Studies club, and Debate coach, Mr. DeMarco is excited for an eventful year.

Mr. Patrick Dent – Advanced Statistics, Calculus 12

The Mathematics Department welcomes Mr. Patrick Dent to its faculty. This year, Dent teaches seniors in both Advanced Statistics and Calculus 12.

Dent grew up in Moscow and London, eventually moving to Fairfax County, Virginia at the age of seven. Fairfax County has some of the best public schools in the country, which are well known for their outstanding math programs. “I think going through that school system through middle school really set me up well with the mathematical skills that got me through high school and college,” Dent said. 

In college, Dent pursued a degree in Mathematical Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and learned about the immense power of data in explaining the world. 

Dent has always had an interest in teaching since, in high school, his teachers were great role models to him. He says, “They really demonstrated to me how much impact a teacher can make on a student’s life.” Dent is looking forward to improving his teaching skills under the guidance of the Chaminade faculty. 

Dent is also the newest coach of the Chaminade Crew Team, and is optimistic about how the team is shaping up this year.

Mr. George Paxos ‘17 – Chemistry 10

Mr. George Paxos ‘17 is making his return to Chaminade as the newest sophomore Chemistry teacher and moderator of Science Club. 

Paxos grew up in Bayside, Queens with his parents, who were both pharmacists. Paxos says, “My family really influenced my love for science.” While attending St. John’s University, Paxos worked extensively as a tutor, which sparked his love for teaching. Paxos is enthused to be back at Chaminade, saying, “I loved being a part of the Chaminade family as a student and I couldn’t be happier that I can give back as a teacher now.” 

Mrs. Kathy Zhong – Chinese II, III, IV

Mrs. Kathy Zhong is joining the language department as its newest Chinese teacher. She was originally born and raised in China and came to the U.S. for graduate school. Teaching is something that she always wanted to do, as she had looked up to the people who taught her when she was young. She always admired how much they cared and their willingness to problem solve. 

Zhong’s upbringing offers the Chaminade family with a new perspective on teaching. She describes how school in China was much different than it is here in the states, as it was much more challenging. Because of this, she tries to not give unnecessary work to her students and only gives assignments when it is necessary to the learning process. 

Zhong also discussed what made her want to teach in America rather than in China. She likes the American style of education more, as it is student-centered as opposed to lecture-centered. She comes to Chaminade with both her love of the study of language and her great care for her students.