Q&A: Getting to Know Mr. Natan Ovshey, Math


Sarah Silverman '24

Mr. Natan Ovshey, a new addition to the Math department, joined the Ramaz Upper School in a year of transition. Many long-time Ramaz faculty have left the school, including Mr. Rodger Jaffe, who Mr. Ovshey is replacing. He is excited to join the Ramaz community and is looking forward to sharing his knowledge with his students. 

Sarah Silverman: Where are you from? 

Mr. Natan Ovshey: I was actually born in a country in the USSR, which does not exist anymore. In a city called Kyiv, which is in modern-day Ukraine. When I was eight years old my family moved to south Brooklyn and have been living there ever since. 

SS: What schools did you attend growing up? 

NO: For middle school, I went to an all-boys yeshiva in south Brooklyn. It used to be known as Sherith Israel, but now they changed its name and moved to a new location. It was actually for immigrant kids like myself. For my freshman year of high school, I went to Bronx Science and then transferred to Stuyvesant. Afterward, I attended Cornell University and have both an undergraduate and graduate degree in theoretical math.  

SS: Were you a good student in high school? What were your favorite and least favorite subjects? 

NO: I was a decent student but I didn’t have very good study skills, I would say. I guess it’s cliche but my favorite subject was Math and my least favorite was English. 

SS: Why did you want to become a teacher? Where have you taught before?

NO: This is my first time teaching high school. Before this, I taught at the New York City College of Technology for ten years. My first experience teaching was at the tutoring center at Hunter College. I enjoy working with people and seeing them understand a concept. I’m not the best at public speaking but when I’m in front of a class, I’m pretty comfortable. I decided to try out high school since I needed a change, and I am happy to be here! 

SS: What do you like to do in your free time? 

NO: I enjoy being outdoors and fishing. Over the summer, I spent a good amount of time in upstate New York with my family. I like teaching my six-and-a-half-year-old son to fish. I got him into it when he was very small. We usually go together. 

SS: How was the experience of interviewing for the Math teacher position compared to normal years? Due to COVID-19 and Zoom, there must have been differences in the interview process. 

NO: It wasn’t that different. When I was asked to interview, I met with Dr. Nironi, who’s the head of the Math department, for a Zoom call. I had actually already been interviewed before the pandemic, and due to the chaos of what happened, never heard back. This June, Dr. Nironi contacted me and I came in for a mock lesson. Other than wearing masks, there was really no change between now and before the pandemic.        

SS: Do you have a favorite book or movie? 

NO: I haven’t read a novel in a while, but I discovered Diary of a Wimpy Kid with my son and we enjoy reading that together. I like short stories and recently read a collection of them by Anton Chekhov. The 2012 movie Lincoln by Steven Spielberg would probably be my favorite movie. I’m a history fan and it was just incredible. 

SS: What classes and clubs are you helping out/teaching this year? 

NO: I am teaching 9th-grade Accelerated Geometry and Honors Algebra II in addition to 10th grade Honors Algebra II and Accelerated Algebra II, as well as an 11th-grade Pre-calculus class. I will also be involved with the Math Team, which is a great experience for those who want to learn skills outside the classroom and solve challenging puzzles.

Everyone should sign up!