Welcoming a group of brand new teachers


George Sarafianos

Art by Alex Carranza
Beginning the year with an addition that is larger than any among previous years, RBHS has rolled out the welcome wagon for 36 new members of faculty in order to replace both retired employees of RBHS, and to cater to this year’s changes in enrollment.
“A big chunk of it was just replacing those who left, so we had to fill up all of those empty positions,” RBHS Principal Dr. Jennifer Mast said. “The rest of those decisions were made jointly between the board office and Mr. Maus [previous principal] based on enrollment projections.”
In conjunction with all Columbia Public School high schools now carrying freshman students, the opening of Battle High School also affected this year’s faculty at RBHS by not having a senior class.
“It’s the freshman and seniors together; what makes us big is the addition but no reduction in seniors,” Mast said. “Battle didn’t open with seniors but did take essentially one third of every other class. So this is a very special year that both Hickman and Rock Bridge are both oversized.”
Both schools now hold more than 2,000 students, making for a pretty packed enviornment. The process of finding the right teachers, however, is a task that goes unnoticed by most but is easily one of the most strenuous tasks that must be done each year, Mast said.
“I think we look for a cultural fit, as well as a philosophical fit. We are aware that our philosophy is not the same as every other high school, and every school I think can say that,” Mast said. “So principals and decision makers, when they’re interviewing for jobs they want to make sure that the candidate is obviously competent as a teacher, someone who knows their craft, but also agrees with our philosophy at RBHS.”
The main issue at hand, according to Mast is, “Can we do the best job we can in supporting new staff?” Faculty new to RBHS are always greeted with “full support” in their transition to their new work environment. Ninth grade Physics teacher Travis Gable is one faculty member in which the transition made sense.
“I taught at Jeff Junior for five years but always liked this school,” Gable said. “I coached here when I was in college, and I plan on coaching here this winter for basketball, so it was gonna be a pretty smooth transition for being able to teach and coach at the same school.”
But convenience was not the only motivator in Gable’s decision to come to RBHS this year. Having fallen in love with teaching while in college, Gable has a very defined list of goals he wishes to accomplish here at RBHS.
“I want to increase student engagement in activities and help them make connections with the content and real life,” Gable said. “By doing this, I think it starts good relationships with the kids and with a good relationship, and getting a good foundation laid helps the students want to be in the class and helps them want to perform at high expectations.”
Faculty members, however, are not the only ones being affected by the large addition, which brings up the matter of how students are affected to the surface. Students play a major role in the welcoming of new teachers regarding their actions towards them. If it weren’t for students eager to learn from the new teachers, it wouldn’t be possible for them to carry out their job efficiently.
Senior Katie Neu, a student here since her sophomore year, has always found excitement and pleasure in meeting and welcoming new teachers.
“It’s always fun to meet new people,” Neu said. “It brings a variety into it. How boring would it be if you never met anyone different, and only interacted with the same people over and over again? That would be awful!”
A perfect example is Neu’s AP Psychology teacher Mrs. Profitt, a teacher not only new to RBHS this year after returning, but also new to Neu.
“She makes it actually interesting, I was pretty surprised,” Neu said. “I thought it would be just a run of the mill class, but as soon as [Proffitt] started talking I knew she would be what would make me remember this class in years to come.”
Having an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ mentality on the topic, Neu values having a new teacher in a way that not many students do.
“I just think of it like, I’m one of the first people they teach at their new job,” Neu said, “I’m as big a part of their life as they are of mine.”
By George Sarafianos