They never even wanted to teach

photo courtesy of Google under the Creative Commons license

photo courtesy of Google under the Creative Commons license

Lily Bartin, writer

The shrill ring of the sixth hour bell marks the time that Larissa Hoffman, senior, has eagerly awaited all day. Hoffman files through the crowded math building, to her seventh hour, which she spends as a cadet for math teacher, Randy Kriewall. Back in the classroom of her favorite former teacher, Hoffman can’t wait to participate in his daily antics and learn from his unconventional teaching style. Julia Smotkin, sophomore, walks through the door of Cheryll Bowman’s German class with a smile. She finds that even the most boring conjugations are fun when taught alongside Bowman’s signature humor. Casey Stark, sophomore, looks forward to the focus and engagement of his Honors English class, taught by Amy Barker. Stark sees Barker’s class as a refreshing break to a day of high school chaos. These teachers are among the most well liked at KHS, but that wasn’t always their aspiration.

“My eighth grade principal told me I was going to be a teacher,” Kriewall said. “I cried for two weeks, I couldn’t think of anything worse. One thing I wasn’t going to do was be a teacher.”

Kriewall has been teaching math at KHS for 26 years now. He hasn’t looked back.

“I tried subbing, so I could sit there with the newspaper and get paid to look for a job, I never even looked at the paper, I loved it,”  Kriewall said. “I loved working with the students, there wasn’t a boring moment, and I haven’t been bored since.”

Kriewall claims that his experiences, years of unemployment, misfortune and internal struggle, have changed the way he sees students, and made him a better teacher. Kriewall said that he wants to change the way his students view failure, to see it as an opportunity to grow.

“I’ve failed a lot, and I think that helps me be more compassionate.” Kriewall said. “Understanding, that failing is hard but it’s part of what we do to learn things.”

Larissa Hoffmann, senior, has been Kriewall’s cadet this semester. Thinking of being a teacher herself, Hoffmann said she has learned a lot in his classroom.

“[Kriewall] has really shown me how to teach something in different ways, and help students who aren’t understanding.” Hoffmann said.

Kriewall said that helping his students however he can is part of his teaching method. He said it’s also a rule he lives by, and tries to teach his students.

“We owe it to each other to help each other out.” Kriewall said. “If there’s one big lesson I hope [my students] take away from my class, it’d be that.”

Out of eight years teaching German, this has been Bowman’s first year at KHS. Already, she has gained a loyal following, quickly becoming a favorite teacher at KHS. Similarly to Kriewall, teaching wasn’t always her passion.

“I did not want to be a teacher,” Bowman said. “That was the furthest thing from what I wanted to do. But when I had to teach in grad school and my students loved me, I thought maybe I should do this as a career.”

Bowman said that she doesn’t think of herself as superior to her students. She endeavors to give them the respect that she would want in return.

“I try to look at students as people, I try not to look down on them,” Bowman said. “If you show somebody respect you’ll get respect back.”

Bowman said that learning a foreign language can be complicated, and that the details of her lessons may fade from the memories of her students. But Bowman said she hopes that the message of her teaching will stick with them.

“Even if someone cannot conjugate a verb ten years from now, if they have learned to treat everyone with respect and still have a sense of humor, I’m happy that they could get that from my class.” Bowman said.

Along with verb conjugations, Julia Smotkin, sophomore, said she has learned the life lessons Bowman wishes to teach. Smotkin said Bowman’s easygoing attitude is one of the main takeaways from the class.

“I think that Frau Bowman really emphasises humor,” Smotkin said. “I’ve learned to always take things with a grain of salt and to be understanding of other people’s situations”

Another popular KHS teacher, Amy Barker has been teaching English at KHS for 22 of her 24 years in the field. According to Barker, teaching comes naturally, own could say it’s in her genes.

“My grandmother was a teacher, my mother was a teacher, so I thought that was the one thing that I wasn’t going to be,” Barker said. “When I was in college, I took an intro to education class and just loved it. I knew I would be be a teacher too.”

According to Barker, even for teachers, high school can be a lot to handle. It can be easy to get distracted, but she tries to keep her attention on her classroom.

“There are so many other things always swirling around besides the education,” Barker said. “Sports are good and prom is fun, but you have to keep your focus and energy towards the students and the learning.”

After 24 years, Barker feels that her passion for her profession hasn’t faded. She hopes to instil this passion in her students and teach them more than just the curriculum.

“I love my subject, I love the students, I feel like I’m always still learning,” Barker said. “I want to teach them that the purpose of every day is for you to be the best person you can be that day and to do what you love”

Casey Stark, sophomore, a student in one of Barkers’ Honors English classes, looks forward to the atmosphere of her class. According to Stark, he notices how Barker’s class differs from a typical high school setting.

“One of her big rules is to be aware, and engaged in your surroundings.” Stark said. “It’s great, it’s something you don’t see a lot to look around the class and see everyone learning and participating.  [Barker’s] class is a great part of my day.”

They didn’t all come to teaching in the same way, they didn’t even want to teach. They said that they made mistakes, and failed along the way. Each of them said that they found their passion, in teaching and at KHS.

“Everyday I’m learning from my students.” said Kriewall. “Everyday I’m still growing and improving, just like them. That’s why I have the best job in the world”

 

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