Quarantine Lifestyle Tips From the Staff

Checking in on how three of Stuyvesant’s favorite staff are holding up during quarantine.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Let’s face it: quarantine is getting to us. It’s hard to sleep, hard to keep up with online schooling, and most of all, hard to keep up a consistent daily routine. This applies to teachers just as much as it does to us students, so we at The Spectator have asked three of your favorite teachers what their schedules look like. This quarantine is a great time for learning and growth, and who better to learn from than your elders?


Our first interview found us video-chatting with mathematics teacher Brian Sterr late at night. A renowned and well-loved math teacher, we wondered whether he had any insights into keeping up with a solid academic schedule.

“Uh, you know, I think one of the most important things is to make sure you’re not working yourself to death,” he told us, pressing two fingers against the bridge of his nose. “I’ve been, you know, spending time with my two family members, learning some new skills, playing this one game—Overwatch—a little too. I heard about it from one of my students,” he went on. “Really great game. Great characters, great gameplay too. I’ve only played it for maybe a couple hundred hours since quarantine started, and I’m already on some regional leaderboards. It’s a little hard on the fingers,” he said, nearly dropping his third cup of espresso as his hand trembled. We, the interviewers, reminded him that we had been wondering about his academic habits.

“Oh, uh, school?” His eye twitched as he explained. “With all the, uh, skill… learning… that I’ve been doing, I’ve had to stay up pretty late every night getting homework graded. I’ve been getting them in around, uh, 3:00 in the morning. But I think it’s good for the kids, really. It gives them something nice to wake up to. And class, uh, that’s going fine too. Though I have been missing the smorgasbord of emotions on days when I hand back math tests. That’s a form of entertainment you just can’t simulate online.” He then took another shot of espresso and left to refill his cup.


Following that enlightening conversation, the next teacher we spoke with was physical education teacher Vasken Choubaralian. We asked him whether he, as a health teacher, had any advice on staying fit indoors.

“Do a hundred pushups a day,” he told us proudly. “And drink 12 glasses of water. Yup, yup. Gotta keep up the grind”—he paused to flex for us—“can’t let those muscles atrophy! But hey, listen, you know what the biggest thing is? You gotta keep that brain intact. Do whatever it takes to keep those skills up. Me, I’ve been makin’ sure my volleyball girls keep it tight for the season. We’ve been doing sessions over Zoom and playing a little of what I call ‘follyball.’ We all get our own ball and split into two teams. It doesn’t even need to be a ball. The girls use things like pillows, boxes, younger siblings, and the works. If someone yells ‘spike,’ everyone has to throw that ball into the air and hit it as it falls down. If someone yells ‘serve,’ they gotta bounce it off a nearby wall and hit it. Yup, yeah, it’s just like the real game season! We’ve even had an injury. Our star player’s out with a shattered screen.”

He cracked open a bottle of Muscle Milk as we inquired as to how he’s been holding up mentally. “I gotta say, I miss the school. I really do. Sometimes, I’ll call up my nephew Niksav on Zoom, have him pretend to text someone, and then tell him he better put that thing away before I take it away. It’s just not the same.”


Finally, we talked to the head honcho: Eric Contreras himself. How, we wondered, was he making do away from his beloved school?

“Well, kids, it’s so nice to see you all taking an interest in your teachers—an educational interest, that is—and I’d love to give you a little advice about how I’m managing my time and keeping my spirit up, just like how you guys are all working so hard to keep up the school spirit.

“Anyway, I wake up around 7:00 from a great night’s sleep on my Casper mattress, make myself a nice piece of toast with some Marmite, and maybe make a cup of Folgers instant coffee. Then, I’ll check in with my teachers on Slack—that’s Slack: Where work happens. Around noon, I like to take some time to read—I just ordered a few new books from Barnes and Noble’s website. Have I mentioned how fast they were delivered or how well-designed the site was? I’ll have an early lunch with a nice glass of Tropicana orange juice, and then I’m off to work.”

We inquired as to what his work looks like nowadays, and he explained, “You know, it’s a whole lot of planning, communicating with teachers and the board, and thinking about what next year’s gonna look like. Really, there’s a lot of uncertainty. That’s why I’ve picked up a—I think you kids call it a ‘side hustle’—I’ve gone into freelance advertising.”

Our teachers are paragons of knowledge for us students, and there’s so much more to learn from them than just what’s included in the curricula. We here at The Spectator know that we’ll be taking tips from our teachers’ schedules, and we hope that you’ve learned something from this as well.