Leslie Backus deals with plants every day as the horticulture teacher at Montgomery Blair High School. Her leisure pursuits include gardening, motorcycling and devouring books. "I read a lot of science fiction and mysteries,” Backus explained. She also enjoys whipping up her own concoctions in the kitchen. "I'm an improvisational cook,” Backus joked. She loves flexible recipes she can tweak to her liking. Backus is also a music lover. She sings in a church choir, and she has been playing piano since she was seven years old. In the past, Backus has sponsored a Dungeons and Dragons club at Blair, but no longer has the schedule to participate in clubs due to the time she now spends with her two children.
Music teacher Sara Josey is often spotted walking along Broadway corridor, greeting students and faculty and exchanging smiles. Like many other staff members, Josey is a committed teacher, as well as a wife and mother. Her friendly manner and cheerful personality tell a story unknown to many.
Todd Stephens, U.S. History teacher at Montgomery Blair High School, has a smile radiant like the sun, reflecting many pearly white indentures. With a boisterous rolling laugh and a strong positive attitude, Stephens emits a positive aura around him. He is a first year full time teacher at Blair, has found teaching to be an overall rewarding experience from the very beginning of his career. His ultimate goal was
In Louis Hoelman's office, the walls are covered with pictures of Montgomery Blair High School's athletes. He coaches three teams at Blair and teaches two physical education classes. Hoelman said he loves teaching gym at Blair, one of the largest and most diverse schools in the county. "I wouldn't want to teach anywhere else," he said.
Sporting a trendy brown velour suit and bright red fingernails, Business/Computer Science instructor Bertina Williams sat comfortably in her second floor classroom. Her warm and friendly nature gave one the feeling that this educator was pre-destined to become a teacher.
For most teachers at Montgomery Blair High School, the school day begins at 7:25 in the morning and ends by 3:00 in the afternoon. For teacher Karen Shilling, the amount of time she puts into her student's lives extends far beyond these hours. This is because Shilling is an ESOL (English as a Second Language), a job that requires her to play a large roll in her students' lives. Everyday room 156 is a place where Shilling and her students are continually learning about eachother and the cultures that make each of them unique.
Suzanne Giacalone's round face looks long like that of a wise woman's. Her head is resting on her hand, Jackie-O style reading glasses sitting on the desk in front of her. The phone rings and Giacalone gets up still speaking and leaves the room briefly, her words trailing off. Upon returning she sighs.
Hopkins, with over twenty years experience as a teacher, feels that he has "never left high school" himself. Though he explains that his own high school years were "dismal," he feels that being a teacher is his own way of rebellion against the institution that brought him down. "I immensely disliked high school, and I think learning should be fun, since it wasn't for me. I want to change the system!", Hopkins said as a smile formed on his face.
The blue, day-glow of her computer screen reflects off of her face, pouring flashing pools of light into the deep wells of her spectacles. She sits with her hands lightly clasped together in her lap, with her papers and materials packed conservatively away in binders upon her desk. She pauses, turns up her eyes as if in thought, and then speaks. "Kindergarten is wonderful; it is really neat. The teachers treat the job as a profession and they are tremendously well-educated.”
A guard's whistle blows, and a hundred metal doors simultaneously slam shut. Inside one cell, a prisoner sits on his bunk, wondering if he'll ever see home again. A week ago, he and his other black classmates were arrested near his college when they refused to leave an all-white movie theater. Expecting only a day or two in the local jail, they were put on a bus and sent to prison, to live under the same roof as hardened criminals.
"I dream that I've come upon this secret mist I developed. I spray this mist in the halls and the students breathe it and do 100 percent academically!" says Principal Phillip Gainous, as he leans back in his padded chair. He then looks up at the ceiling, shaking his head while saying, "Boy, if it were that easy!" before letting out a thunderous laugh.
Although this is Kevin Shindel's first year at Blair, he is not a novice when it comes to teaching. In the past he has worked with students of all ages, "from kindergarten to college," he says. He taught at the University of Maryland before he came to Montgomery Blair this year.
John W. Kaluta, a tall man with a serious but gentle disposition, has been teaching at Blair for the past 17 years. Focusing on the technological areas of study, he has helped many students master computer skills. However, Kaluta has not been at Blair for his whole career. Previously, he taught high school in Arlington, Virginia and worked in a museum shop. After a decrease in Arlington's enrollment in 1986, Kaluta came to Blair. Although teaching is Kaluta's first choice as a career, his life does not revolve 100 percent around school.
ESOL teacher Katie Honerkamp was wearing a fitted green and white striped skirt and shirt set, brown loafers, and a bubbly smile that rarely left her round face. She flicked her shoulder length dirty blonde hair out of the way of her brown eyes as she talked happily about her traveling and her experiences at Blair.
Miss Smrek sits at her desk amid the hectic, almost crazed noise fest that is a birthday celebration in the Social Studies office at Blair. She is decked out in jeans, a comfortable looking pink sweatshirt and an easy, enthusiastic smile, a trend pleasingly common among educators today. She looks like a perfect fit for a teacher of psychology, a seemingly casual and hopefully fun subject. And if it isn't fun, she'll make it fun.
Eight- year-old MaryAnn Dvorsky stands up in front of her classroom, ready to assign the evening's homework. "Tonight's assignment will be from your workbook, problems one through ten." The bell suddenly rings, signaling the end of the school day. Dvorsky announces, "Class dismissed!" with a clap of her hands and escorts her Barbie dolls out of a makeshift school house in her living room.
Every morning, Ms. Desiree Balla goes to room 345 to teach. She finishes her day at eleven o'clock with a smile. She enjoys the time she spends in class, bettering the lives of her pupils and making a meaningful contribution to their future. She has been teaching at Montgomery Blair High School for seven years, and hopes to continue her beneficial contributions to the students here.
Darcy Sloe is a slim, attractive brunette with an easygoing smile. With her athletic build and boundless energy, she could easily be mistaken for the tennis coach at Blair, a position she actually held 11 years ago. Today her friendly disposition and brisk manner constitute the perfect formula for a high school biology teacher. Sloe has been working at Blair for 14 years and could not be happier with her present situation.
Magnet math teacher Eric Walstein sat behind his tidy desk as a few students trickled in quietly for his first period class. His stern face was intimidating at first glance, but once he began to speak, his light and cheerful demeanor brightened his serious image.
According to first- year U.S. History teacher Amy Thomas, teaching is not an easy job. Teachers are under a lot of pressure to cover the required topics in an obligatory format. They must try not to leave any students behind. Teachers must be very dedicated to help their students succeed.
David West has taught Nation State Local Government at Montgomery Blair High School for the past nine years of his teaching career. West also taught at Seneca Valley High for four years and at Wooton High for one year. He chose to come to Blair because of the "especially friendly, motivated, and skilled teachers."
Though David L. Swaney has only been a part of the Montgomery Blair community since 1997, the NSL/ AP Comparative Government teacher has been able to find the diverse atmosphere that he had always wanted. Swaney was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he strived to make the best of the non- diverse environment that he wasn't truly content with.
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