3 new teachers join high school staff


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New high school teachers Samantha Circle (Biology), Debrah Evans (Chemistry) and Heather Macon (Learning Support).

When asking people’s feelings on online schooling, everyone has different answers. Our school district has gotten three new teachers that cannot even meet their students properly because we are in online schooling. These are their opinions on online schooling so far in the school year.

Chemistry teacher Debrah Evans had previously worked at Northgate High School, and this is the second year she will be teaching.  

It’s definitely a challenge! Adapting worksheets and other materials for online in ways that work for the students can be tough, and I miss being able to do labs and interact with students in person, but it’s also been fun to learn the new technology (and to embrace the puzzle of getting assignments and other ways to practice skills online),” Evans said.

Biology teacher Samantha Circle graduated from Robert Morris University and was a long-term substitute. She did her student teaching at Pine Richland High School, Ellwood’s High School and Lincoln Jr. Sr. High School.  

“Online learning is challenging for all. As a teacher, I would prefer to be with the students in person but I think this is the next best thing. Online learning is giving students the opportunity to manage their time and determine their priorities. I have been so happy to see how many students are truly putting their education first. As challenging as it is, I am glad to be a part of not only teaching my students biology but also helping them develop skills they will need after high school such as time management and prioritization!” Circle said.

Freedom Area also welcomes learning support teacher Heather Macon from her previous position at Charleroi Area High School. This will be her ninth year teaching.
The big thing that is different is not getting to have a lot of interaction with people. I’m used to having my own classroom or students coming into my room, teaching, going into other teachers’ classrooms and getting to know the students there,” Macon said.

All of the teachers had their likes and dislikes with online schooling this school year. Notably, the teachers do not like that they cannot see their students most of the time. 

 “I completely understand how that can be nerve-racking, but all I want is to talk to YOU, not your picture. It can be very nice to hear a voice that is not my own in class so I encourage everyone to turn your cameras on and talk to your teachers because we hate hearing ourselves for eight hours!” Circle said.

We’re starting to get a bit more interaction virtually,” Macon said. “But it’s still just not the same.”

Evans had brought up the point that teaching was harder for her because she couldn’t see if the students were understanding. 

It’s hard to judge if what I’m saying makes sense, or see if students are done writing notes which makes gauging the pace of the lesson challenging,” Evans said.

For teachers, using Google Meet can be a struggle, but it has its good qualities too.

I love having a consistent schedule and running Google Meets. When I was teaching last school year and the schools shut down, I hated not getting to see or talk to the students. It was good that we were able to post assignments, but I love getting to engage with the students, get instant feedback, and just talk about your weekend plans, how your other classes are going, or if you like Coca-Cola or Pepsi better!” Circle said.

Getting to at least talk to students using Google Meets is one good quality to online schooling.

I get to hear more from students that I might not have gotten to because it’s less nerve-wracking to contribute when you’re typing in an answer. It’s also helped me learn new technology that I can use in my classroom when we’re back in person,” Evans said.

Instead of talking or showing faces, students are able to at least type their answers to the teachers questions. 

In class, the teachers would have liked seeing their students and at least hearing them. They don’t like the fact that they cannot see their students physically in class. There are struggles to online schooling, but there are good things too. We are all in this together and we will get through it all.