“Phenomenal” educator Joseph Msefya joins staff as new assistant principal


Photo courtesy Joseph Msefya

Assistant Principal Joseph Msefya joined Whitman’s staff this year. Msefya formerly served as a staff development teacher at Newport Mill Middle School.

By Lily Freeman

Whitman welcomed former Newport Mill Middle School staff development teacher Joseph Msefya as the new 11th grade administrator this past July.

Msefya, who replaced Rebecca Zatz, is serving as Clubs Faculty Advisor, overseeing the science department, administering standardized testing and managing the attendance intervention plan.

Msefya said he is thrilled to be part of the Whitman community.

“The day I came into the first leadership team meeting over the summer, it was just a warm embrace,” Msefya said. “Everyone has been very supportive and very welcoming.”

Msefya started his educational career in 2010, teaching high school chemistry, biology and environmental science in Prince George’s County Public Schools before serving for a year in the military. After his service, Msefya came to Newport Mill to teach science to younger students, later becoming a staff development teacher.

Msefya’s past teaching experience has made him the perfect fit to oversee the science department, science resource teacher Donald DeMember said.

“It’s really comforting to know that he has a strong background in science,” DeMember said. “I think the entire science department just really feels kind of like he’s one of us.”

A panel of administrators interviewed Msefya for the position over the summer, including assistant principal Gregory Miller, who joined Whitman’s staff a month before his new colleague. From the beginning of the interview, the panel could see that Msefya was qualified for the position, Miller said.

“As soon as he was hired, he jumped right in with a wealth of knowledge,” Miller said. “He’s been a phenomenal addition to the team.”

One of Msefya’s first challenges was taking on the role of Clubs Faculty Advisor. PTSA Clubs Night co-chairs Stephanie Hsieh and Betsy Dodson partnered with Msefya in creating an all-virtual platform for extracurricular activities. Hsieh said that having Msefya oversee the process made the operation more streamlined.

“He’s super responsive and really was engaged and willing to sort things out for us,” Hsieh said. “There was a high degree of confidence on our end that we could count on him as somebody who could help us navigate this new transition to the virtual Whitman clubs.”

Over the summer, Msefya also worked with Principal Robert Dodd and other members of the administration to push antiracism measures at Whitman, including the creation of a new online form students will be able to use to report hate-based incidents. 

Though he would love to be serving as assistant principal in person, Msefya is looking forward to meeting the challenges of this school year, he said.

“I really felt welcomed the moment I interviewed for the position,” Msefya said. “Despite the conditions, I’m excited for the school year and the work that we have ahead of us.”