Teachers make new connections

Out with the old, in with the new. Out with the seniors, in with the freshmen.

This phenomenon, called graduation, happens at high schools everywhere. Every four years, those high school newcomers, known as freshmen, complete their journey to the end of senior year and leave their alma mater to go into the real world.

Teachers, like students, rotate into and out of schools. Some retire, and new teachers take their places. But there are some teachers who withstand the test of time and stay at the same school for years, even decades, on end.

To some, adjusting to new students every year for who knows how many years may seem hard.

For Michelle Taylor, who has taught at the high school for 32 years, it’s not difficult at all.

“That’s just life. You’re always having new people come in and out of your life. You have to get involved, you have to see who’s out there. That’s [adjusting to changing students] not a major problem at all,” Taylor said.

Many teachers also notice how their students change and mature in their four years of high school.

“Students are very much like adults. They’re constantly changing; they’re constantly evolving,” Taylor said. “It’s up to teachers and administrators to deal with the changes that students endure.”

Gerald Wheeler, longtime advanced mathematics teacher who retired last year, also noticed how students change during their high school experience.

“Well, they settle themselves down and get a closer look at the reality around them. I’ve seen quite a bit of maturing those few years,” Wheeler said.

Teachers have also noticed a general change in the student body throughout the years.

Wheeler has certainly noticed that change.

“Culturally, the whole society is in constant change. You just see the usual shift in cultural values and moral values and general attitudes,” Wheeler said.

Amber Johnson, a math teacher who’s in her ninth year here at the high school, says that technology has had a hand in the changing of students over time.

“I think the students themselves are changing. [They are] much more dependent on technology and much more linked up with technology than they were when I first came,” Johnson said. “The students when I first started teaching were more likely to be engaged with you because they weren’t so obsessed with all the technology.”

Taylor is also of that opinion.

“Certainly, cell phones and personal computers have good and bad points. Texting in class seems to be a major occupation,” Taylor said.

Taylor went on to say that students’ attention spans are shorter than when she first started teaching.

“[The] Attention span is much, much shorter than it was 30 years ago. Class periods at that time were 55 minutes, now they’re 48. We are having a difficult time holding their attention today,” Taylor said.

Even with the changing times, some things remain constant. Freshmen come in, freshmen become sophomores, sophomores become juniors, juniors become seniors, and seniors leave. Though technology and society may be changing, students will continue to be taught by teachers who will probably go on to see several other classes throughout their careers.

Those teachers are certainly an element of any high school. The purpose of high school is to educate and prepare. And according to Wheeler, DHS isn’t the worst school out there.

“There’s nothing that’s gonna fully prepare you for what’s around the corner,” Wheeler said, “but I think Duncan High School does a good job, and I’m very proud of them.”