These New Teachers Just Came to PRA:
You Won’t Believe What They Have to Say About Us
By: Sadie Halleck and Megan Helmick
This past week, we’ve been interviewing some of the new high school teachers and some students at PRA. There are a lot of new teachers. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to interview all of them, but the few that we did interview were very open to answering the few questions we had for them.
We interviewed 5 teachers: Ms. Miner, Mrs. Hughes, Dr. LeCarner, Mrs. Stansifer, and Mr. Storer. They had a lot to say for our five questions. For the first question, we asked them how it felt to be a new teacher at PRA. Dr. LeCarner had only taught at college before he moved here. He said that it was very exciting and also very different, but getting a new job is always exciting and a little terrifying. Ms. Miner enjoys being at a new school, but she is still adjusting to everything.
Curious about how our school compared to others from a teacher’s perspective, we asked them how our school was different or similar to schools they’ve taught at. While most of the answers were similar, they were not disappointed with PRA. Most teachers said PRA is a lot more motivated than other schools. Mrs. Hughes previously taught at much bigger schools and likes how well she can get to know everyone here. The new French teacher, Mrs. Stansifer, says that our school has a better community and we are a lot more excitable than other students. To say the least, they all seem impressed with our student body.
Going off of that question, we asked them how they feel about our school’s environment. They all agreed that the students have a lot to do with it. Mr. Storer likes the school’s environment a lot and he feels like the students are very well behaved and polite, our staff is friendly, and our building is clean. Dr. LeCarner thinks that the school’s environment is pretty fantastic; it is a relatively new building, and everybody has welcomed him and treated him really well. He believes that college prep environment is good for someone who has spent his whole life teaching college, and that it is good for students to be prepared.
Anyone can tell you that being at a new school (or just in a situation where you don't know anyone) and we wanted to know how these new teachers were adjusting. We asked whether they thought that PRA was an accepting school or an easy school to come to as a new teacher. Mrs. Hughes told us how she’s the type of person to always ask her questions and that “No matter who I ask a question to, everyone’s always so happy to go out of their way to answer my question or show me where I need to go.” For Ms. Miner, it’s been intimidating. She says there’s a lot to learn and adapt to but she’s surrounded by supporting parents, students, and fellow staff members. Everyone agrees that because of our good environment, it’s an easy school to transition to.
Finally, we asked the teachers what they thought about our school’s policies. Mrs. Stansifer believes that our school policies are helping for treating such the good learning environment at PRA, and that the dress code prepares students for later in their lives. Our school’s students have learned that they should take everything seriously and that can carry on later in life. Mr. Storer thinks that our school policies are perfect, and that “This is going to benefit you guys”.
These teachers are new to our students, so we to see their side of things. To understand how the students felt about our new teachers, we interviewed one student from each grade. As a senior representative, we have Nathan Helmick. Molly O’Flannigan, a junior, was interviewed as well. We had Alexa interviewed as a sophomore. Finally, freshman Abigail (Abbi) Jones shared her thoughts on the teachers as well.
As there is a range of new teachers, we started off by asking how many new teachers each student had. The answers ranged from one to six. Abbi had two new teachers, Alexa had six, Molly had one, and Nathan had three.
Our next question was if the students thought that the new teachers were a good fit for PRA. Abbi says that she thinks that “they show good character… they are very good at preparing us for college”. Alexa says that she thinks that most of the new teachers are a good fit for PRA because they bring the cheery attitude that PRA has.
It’s important for students to be able to follow a teacher’s lesson. We asked the students if the new teaching styles were easy to follow and if not, we want the teachers to know what they can improve. Abbi says it’s easy for her to follow Mrs. Stansifer’s teaching style because she really makes sure her students understand the information. Molly has the new PE teacher (Mr. Lewton). She likes how he engages the class and keep them loose throughout class. However, a few students would like to warn new teachers, or any teacher, about being too vague, not having them absorb the content, or teaching straight of the book.
We proceeded to ask the students how friendly their teachers act towards the students and if this seems appropriate. Nathan says that the teachers are sort of friendly but he hasn’t seen any of the teachers cross any sort of line that they shouldn’t have in a professional way.(idk about this but i might as well give it a try). Molly says that the new PE teacher is very friendly especially with the high schoolers and he doesn’t try to seem like a teacher who is above them in any way, and he acts more like he is ‘one of us’ which can be helpful in a way. He will play in the games with them and he is overall very friendly.
Lastly, we asked them what qualities they look for in a teacher. Alexa says she likes a teacher that “...knows what they are talking about and cares about what they are talking about and what they teach.” Nathan had a slightly different answer. He likes a teacher that can grab his attention and keep it. Answers varied a lot for this question, but if we were to summarize it, we would say that teachers should be able to make sure the students have resources and understand what’s being taught, but they need to care about what they teach in a way that grabs the attention of the students. If they can do that then it feels less tedious.
Our school is very unlike other schools. We have more spirit, more motivation, and friendlier faces. No matter who comes here, we welcome them. This not only makes it very easy for teachers to fit in, but students too. The people here at PRA make this environment. Everyone here makes it a friendlier and tightly knit place, and the new teachers like that.
PRA Through Fresh Eyes: A New Student's Perspective
By: Krystal Faulkingham
For most students, transferring schools is a difficult process. Many new students at Prospect Ridge Academy (PRA) have different views on how their first weeks at a new school went. A few students think that transfer is normal, but for others, this is their first time at a new school, and they are finding it a little difficult. New students may have difficulties finding a group of friends to fit in with, or finding their locker, but either way, almost every new student has difficulty with something during their transition. PRA has over 60 new students, which may make things a little difficult for students to make a first-rate transition.
Many parents of new students have opinions on what the school has and hasn’t helped their student well with. Transferring to a new school isn't only hard on the student, it is also difficult for the parents and other family members of the student. I spoke with a parent who has a daughter attending PRA about her personal opinions about the school. As I talked with her I noticed she has mixed emotions about what the school has done for her student. “I like the competition aspect of the school so that our students aren’t sitting in a classroom 7 hours a day, but I wish they would get kids more involved”. I also asked her about how she felt the school did with helping her family with the transition and she said, “As a new family we are unaware on how the system works, and we haven't been talked to about it, the computer system (IC) is never updated correctly in some classes, and never very quickly.” This comment shows there is still a lot of confusion, and there are ways we can improve the transition as a family.
Transition is a big deal for new students if they haven't been through it before, and most parents can agree. “I would say the school needs to help parents and students more involved and give students more time to get to know each other.” I also spoke with Sofia Ochoa, a new student to PRA, and I asked her what the hardest part about her transition was, she said “making new friends and trying to fit into the school’s community and where I would stand socially”. Many transferring students have this fear of “not fitting into a group” and as a new student that makes the transition more difficult. Although, clubs and sports help a lot with finding a group that has the same interests as you. “It gives you a group of people to talk to that have similar interests as you, and it gives you a basic group of friends.” Ochoa also said her best experience at the school so far was with her volleyball team. “We took a bus ride to Leadville and I got to have some really good conversations with the team that I wouldn't have time to in school.” This shows that the sports program has helped students transition and make new friends.
Although at the beginning of the school year students have difficulty transitioning, around two or three weeks into school, students have most likely have found a “social standing”, a “group”, or somewhere they fit in. The majority of new students have the most difficulty with the small things, such as getting time to hang out with their new friends, and knowing at least one other person in all of their classes. Transitions are tough, for both the students and their families. Although many students may have a difficult time through this process, they make new friends to help them through it, and that's what makes the PRA community so stable.