From student to teacher

Teacher of the month; Ms. Ariela DeFunis

Ms. Ariela DeFunis did not always aspire to be a math teacher. She didn’t enjoy math until she took a calculus class in high school, which she found easier to understand than other types of math?. 

Ms. DeFunis now teaches mathematics and STEM at NYHS. She teaches geometry and precalculus, as well as Intro to STEM for freshmen and STEM year one for sophomores. She has been teaching at NYHS since 2014. 

After attending college and majoring in economics and philosophy with the intention of going directly to law school, she changed her mind and enrolled in a two-year program called New York City Teaching Fellows.This program provides teacher training, courses, and resources to improve education quality in New York City public schools. DeFunis intended to stay in the program for two years but ended up staying for five because she loved teaching so much. “I’ve always loved working with kids, like volunteering with kids when I was in high school or working with students after school,” she said. 

DeFunis grew up on Mercer Island and attended NYHS herself. “I loved my experience here and love being in a school that gave me so much,” she said about her decision to begin teaching at NYHS. DeFunis attended the University of Washington before moving to New York but when she returned to Seattle, there was a position opening at NYHS that interested her.

DeFunis enjoys drawing and playing the ukulele in her spare time, as well as partaking in creative activities, such as painting and building STEM projects. 

DeFunis likes understanding how students learn and witnessing their growth over time. “I love the way our students are friends with each other and how the community is built within the students,” she said.

DeFunis cares deeply about her students. She admires the work and projects her students accomplish. “My classes are amazing groups of students who have bright futures,” she said. “Each one of them has a unique skill that they bring that I’ve been so proud to see.”