By RACHELL CHON
This year, University High School has gained 22 new staff members, representing a significant increase in new staff members compared to last year. With many vacancies left by staff members who have retired, have gone on personal leave, or have been recruited by Portola High School, the recent addition of new teachers and personnel marks a new year full of new faces.
“So far, things are going very well and we are excited to have our new hires,” Mr. Matthew Pate (Admin.) said. “We are confident that they will do remarkable things in the classroom and hope they … enjoy the journey.”
The Science Department has had the largest change, with a total of three new teachers, followed by Math and English, each with an addition of two new educators.
Each applicant underwent a specific process that emphasized both their skill and love for teaching.
“[New instructors were chosen based on their] content knowledge and the instructional aptitude to provide students with a rigorous and engaging classroom experience,” Pate said.
The administration and other teachers involved in the hiring process particularly looked for teachers “who are able to connect with students and have the ability to build relationships to help them grow,” Pate said.
He also stated how the new staff brings important benefits by bringing new ideas and perspectives that contribute to the strength and depth of the “already top-notch faculty.”
“We want teachers who want to develop positive, professional relationships with the students, work hard to develop their teaching, enjoy collaboration with other teachers, and be flexible for all that might happen at a school – to name a few characteristics,” Dr. Kevin Astor (Admin.) said.
Though there were not any major changes to the hiring process from years prior, each prospective candidate was required to succeed in two rounds before being selected. However, the “last [round] required more in terms of demonstrating instructional strategies than in past years,” Pate said.
Every department gained a new staff member, with the exception of the Art Department. Each department held their own standards and qualities when looking for the highest-quality staff.
“[It is important that candidates] are excited to work with their colleagues closely … [and are] willing to learn about the subject,” Ms. Susanne Fitzpatrick (English Dept.) said.
Ms. Genee Hansen (World Language Dept.) further states that organization and creativity are essential to generate an efficient learning environment.
With high standards, every department values a teacher that emits vitality and treasures the overarching importance of student connection.“[We look for] people that have a lot of energy with a background in physical education and work well with students.” Mr. Kevin McCaffrey (Physical Education Dept.)said.
“[We] look for teachers that love working with high school students and would be a good fit within the school and science department. We also want teachers that have a strong science background in order to give UNI students the solid foundation in science they will need for other classes here at UNI or in college.” Mr. David Knight (Science Dept.) said.
Overall, every teacher should be “passionate about what they’re doing…and show the drive and initiative to do the best for their students,” Ms. Shannon Lenert (Math Dept.) said.
“Anytime you start a new job, there are always challenges,” Ms. Barbara Smay (Special Education Dept.) said.
“[The new staff members in the English Dept.] are both really excited because the quality and the kindness of the students here has surprised them. They did not really know what to expect and they both have said to me that they’re surprised of how great UNI kids are.” Fitzpatrick said.
Several Department Chairs were interviewed for this article and offered encouraging words to the new staff members:
Dr. Kevin Astor (Admin.): “We are really excited about our new team members and believe they will make Uni an even better place for students.”
Mr. Matthew Pate (Admin.): “To all! We are so excited to have you here and we look forward to everything you have to offer. Make it a good year!”
Ms. Susanne Fitzpatrick (English Dept.): “I just want to tell them that the English department is really happy to have new members because it is really great when a new staff member comes along; they bring enthusiasm, they bring innovation, they bring excitement. When we get a chance to share what we do, we’re reminded of how much we love our own jobs.”
Ms. Barbara Smay (Special Education Dept.): “Welcome to UNI, make it a great year.”
Mr. Kevin McCaffrey (Physical Education Dept.): “Go Trojans!”
Ms. Genee Hansen (World Languages Dept.): “We appreciate them being here and it is going to be an excellent year!”
Mr. David Knight (Science Dept.): “Always come to work knowing our purpose is the mentor and work with kids. If we connect with students first then the science we want to teach will come in time. If you’re not having fun doing it then you’re doing it wrong.”
Ms. Shannon Lenert (Math Dept.): “Keep up the great work! You are doing awesome.”
New Staff Members for the 2016-2017 Year:
Angela Dean – FST and Math 1
Colleen Harrison – Intermediate Algebra and Math 2
Megan Lewis – AP Environmental Science and H Biology
Ruby-Ann Manalaysay – Biology and Marine Science
Ian Perry – Chemistry and Physics
Sheilaugh Shean – English 1 and English 2
Matt Cowan – English 2 and 3
Social Sciences Department:
Tracy Bebout – Global Perspectives
Jane Huson – AP U.S. History
World Languages Department:
Emmi Kohout – Spanish 1 and 2
Ryan Belanto – Physical Education
Alyssa Alpert – Athletics Trainer