Teacher Nicknames

By David Kaminsky

“Ms. Alfonso” is a phrase rarely heard here at Briarcliff High School. Instead of abiding by tradition and referring to all teachers by formal titles and surnames, the custom of a more casual nickname has gradually spread, fostering a more comfortable atmosphere in which students feel at ease to converse with their teachers during class and approach them for help. This practice has diffused from one or two teachers to several of the faculty, perhaps most notably with Ms. Alfonso and Mr. Sandomenico.  Though occasionally to the teachers’ chagrin, these nicknames are almost unanimously cherished by the students and are considered an important addition to the Briarcliff community.

Arguably the most used moniker, especially among the seniors, is “B,” for Mr. Bordonaro. This is also one of the fastest to have caught on, from “my first day teaching” B elaborates. He continues on the iconic shortening, from the full “Bordonaro” to “Mr. B” to simply “B.” The name, which spawned roughly six years ago, has endured at school and is still in frequent use, if one were to ask nearly any senior or upperclassman.


Mr. Sandomenico, or Sandy, is perhaps just as common a nickname as “B.” Sandy, who is known for teaching earth science and physics, among other classes at Briarcliff, has perpetuated as a replacement for “Sandomenico” both in and out of the classroom. As to the origins of Sandy, Mr. Sandomenico expounds “My name is intimidating, a little long: five syllables, so people shortened it to Sandy.” He adds that given that he taught earth science, “sand” and “Sandy” went together too. Like Mr. Bordonaro, it was also established within his first year teaching. Mr. Sandomenico notes that the nickname can also be useful, as students can sense his mood and determine when the time is to revert to his full name.

Perhaps not as well known as some others, Mr. Shulman also has a host of names from his students’ creation. He divulges that the most prominent in his class is “Tiger,” which originates from Tiger Schulmann Karate, and stuck with the aid of senior Jesse Linder. “Tiger” is distinct from several of the other teachers’ nicknames in its selective student usage by Mr. Shulman “Tiger’s” students. “Shully” is amongst Mr. Shulman’s names, though less frequently used, while he reports that students who have had him for several years sometimes use “Shul Daddy, or simply Shull.” Mr. Shulman’s nicknames vary further in his limited appreciation of them, compared to some of the other teachers’. He adds that the usage seems to have dwindled over the years, whereas others seem to grow strongly.

Some names are much more frequently used while in class with the teacher and to improve communication with them, while others are used more sparingly. These include such diminutives as “D Saar,” “D Chen,” or “Cheese” for Ms. Manchisi. Though not pronounced like “cheese,” the name has gained ground in place of Ms. Manchisi’s full name. She has even been dubbed “Hombre Queso,” which for those who take Spanish will know means “Cheese man.” She notes that the name is used mainly in her Spanish five class, compared to her AP Spanish class.

On the whole, the teachers who have acquired these nicknames have a special communication with their classes, as long as the names are used respectfully. The process might soon catch on for more of the staff, if the selected faculty shows approval of the tradition. However, they are well regarded by teachers and their students alike and contribute to the individuality of Briarcliff High School.


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