By Kayla Ouderkirk
As the new school year begins a handful of teachers are making the transition into their new teaching environment here at DHS. Changes have been made to switch teachers to new subjects in attempts to fill the shifting gaps in the school system.
Because of recent budget cuts, teachers such at Brent Chambers, Cammie Hall, David McPeak, and Mark Pickering were asked to accept new positions.
“These kinds of staffing changes are one consequence of the moving target the state has made school funding into,” English teacher Brent Chambers said.
While the district has given DHS administration some control over staffing changes, not all teachers end up in a position they are not accustomed to filling. Dave McPeak moved from the Social Studies department to a position as the E-Learning Facilitator.
“I’m very grateful to be here and to be in the building,” McPeak said. “But it’s hard not being in the classes I taught the past three years.” He added, “I think we’re still trying to keep teachers with a job, even if it’s not what they went to school for.”
Though in the past teachers were given their assignments in May, that was not the case last Spring.
Chambers wasn’t notified until the Monday before exam week that he would be switching to the English department. Having already started the preparation for teaching History in the fall, the support he received from his new department helped him.
“The veteran English teachers in this building have done more to help me with this transition than I could begin to describe,” Chambers said.
McPeak on the other hand spent his summer thinking he wouldn’t have a job. He was expecting a period of unemployment after the school laid him off, and on the Thursday before school started they hired him as the E Learning facilitator.
“I think a lot of students don’t even know I’m back,” McPeak said.
The first week of school prepared teachers for the year ahead of them and provided an introduction to their new assignments.
“It was great,” McPeak said. “When you think you’re not going to have a job and then you come in here, and see all the kids again and they’re happy to see you it’s a really cool feeling.”
According to IB Business Management teacher Mark Pickering, the life of the class is structured around the teacher, but focuses mainly on the students.
“I thought my first week was pretty much like I hoped it would be,” Pickering said. “The best part of it is that the personality of the class makes it fun.”
These staff members, with the exception of McPeak, have had prior experience in their “new” field of teaching; it is merely the transition aspect that is sticky.
“It’s not so much a matter of change for me, since I’ve taught both business and English classes for about half of my career.” Pickering said. “I’m comfortable with my qualifications to teach the class I’ve been assigned.”
Chambers shares the same confidence in his qualifications yet is more directly prepared for History.
“I’m really enjoying teaching English again.” Chambers said. “Reading aloud to students and watching them make connections with literature I feel passionately about is priceless. On the other hand, I have binders full of History materials and I don’t yet have that kind of preparation for my English classes.”
In addition to the teachers and staff that were affected, students may be impacted by the change as well.
“It’s weird, because I expect [Chambers] to be teaching History, but I’m in his English class,” sophomore Jessica Miller said.
Miller appreciates Chambers and respects him as a teacher despite seeing him in a new role.
“Personally he’s my favorite teacher,” Miller said. “So English is better for me because English is my favorite subject, but I’ll always picture him teaching World History.”
Students and teachers continue to work through the changes while maintaining a positive perspective.
“It’s tough for the teachers with all these changes, but it’s hard for the students too,” McPeak said. “I think it’s best for everyone to have an open mind, and make the best of their situation.”
Though classes and subjects may change, the teachers and students stay the same.
“I’d like to think if I’m doing my job it is not affecting them at all.” Chambers said. “I hope that students enjoy my classes no matter what subject I’m teaching.”
The comfortably of a classroom is achieved through time. Only time will tell if these changes will benefit students and teachers in the long run.