New Faculty Interview


Lisa Kogawa '23

Acclimating to a new environment presents a variety of emotions: anxiety, excitement, anticipation, and more. Adjusting to her new role as history faculty at Peddie–amidst a pandemic no less–Mikaela Chang has certainly experienced a wide variety of emotions and experiences.

“Overall, it’s been an interesting adjustment filled with steep learning curves, since I don’t have prior experience in an independent school,” said Chang. Yet Chang has found support as she learns to adjust to private school teaching. “Everyone is incredibly kind, sincere, and supportive, and for that reason I feel even more lucky to be working in this environment.” 

Beginning her career at Peddie as the school responds to Covid-19 has presented Chang with a unique version of Peddie. Just as students may find it difficult to stay connected with Peddie, teachers must cope with similar concerns as to how to build relationships through Zoom. “Half of the time I can only see a 2D image of my kids, which makes it difficult to connect,” said Chang. It is a challenge to teach the class materials and see how students are interacting with the content when everything is online. “The Zoom fatigue is palpable, and it pushes me to find balance in challenging students while trying to be mindful of their total screen time,” said Chang. Given the nature of these Zoom lessons, Chang has realized the need to make adjustments accordingly. “Consequently, I am really intentional with how I build in time and space to check in about how everyone is actually feeling, unrelated to schoolwork.”

At unique times like these, Chang has found specific Peddie features to be more important than ever. “I love the small student-teacher ratio and aspects of Peddie culture like chapel and advisory because I think they enable a strong foundation for building community,” said Chang. Although the new faculty members are experiencing a more challenging version of the normal Peddie experience, it is nonetheless an equally encouraging and caring version, if not more so. 

As new faculty members continue to make adjustments and further explore Peddie, they also look forward to getting the community back together safely as soon as possible. “I eagerly await the day when I can float around a room and tune into conversations instead of clumsily moving through breakout rooms, and when we can engage in discussion and laugh together in real time,” said Chang.