Bulldog Graduates Return to CHS Classrooms
March 31, 2017
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Some say that high school never really ends. For a select group of CHS staff that once attended CHS, that statement rings true—literally.
It may be hard for students to picture their teachers when they were younger, but the Observer got the scoop from CHS teachers who ended up working at their alma mater.
“The best part about CHS is that the students and staff are wonderful and caring,” said counselor Puja Sharma, class of ‘04.
Like Sharma, U.S. History teacher Kevin Doherty believes the CHS community is creates long-standing relationships.
“Weekly, I still probably talk, text or hangout with about 15 to 20 people who I went to CHS with,” said Doherty, who walked the stage in ‘07. “I think this is a reflection of CHS being a very established place resulting [in] people graduating with very stable friends.”
This devoted commitment allows students to have strong relationships with their teachers, which can carry through adulthood.
“I originally taught in a different county so I was trying to get back into MCPS,” Biology teacher Sara Nemati said. “I actually found that Mr. [Clinton] Brown, who I had had as my teacher, was the Department chair of Science, so I emailed him a picture of myself and told him that I was looking to get into the system. His wife Mrs. [Ginny] Brown, who I also had, recognized me.”
Doherty, on the other hand, returned to CHS after keeping touch with his former teachers, even during college years.
“I would speak with Mr. Van Tassell and other CHS teachers in regards to what I should do to bolster my resume, what classes I should take in college or what internships I should do over the summer,” Doherty said.
Prior to the 2012-2013 school year, Doherty got an email from Van Tassell about a job opening at CHS. Doherty interviewed that week, then started the job on the following Monday: the first day of school.
Nemati enjoys working at CHS because it was the place that she discovered her passion for science.
“I decided to become a teacher because I’m a big science nerd,” Nemati said. “That’s basically it. And I thought it would be a fun job, a good fit.”
Nemati has high praise for the CHS community because of a unique politeness amongst the students, and the respect they have for authority.
“Having been at three other schools, I think CHS kids are the nicest,” she said. “They are the first to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘have a nice day or a nice weekend,’ they even hold the door for you; other kids don’t do that.”
With the natural progression of time, one would assume that CHS has changed immensely. While some aspects of the school have stayed stagnant, others have not.
“When I first started teaching at CHS it looked exactly the same as when I was a student,” Math teacher and ‘83 graduate Audrey Phillips said. “I moved to the CHS cluster the year we were starting renovations and the original building was still being used.”
Doherty also believes that much of CHS is the same since he attended.
“[We have] the same principal, half of the teachers are still here and we are still successful and still struggle with the same sports,” Doherty said.
He believes the only major difference is student dependence on technology.
“The only social media site was Facebook, unless you count MySpace, and most kids didn’t have that until my senior year,” he said. “Most students had phones but they weren’t that important to our daily lives. You could go to school and leave your phone at home or go out on the weekend without it. Now, it seems that social media is a real catalyst for students’ social lives and most kids at CHS would have a panic attack if they couldn’t use their phone for a day.”
Nemati believes that CHS has become more sensitive to stress since she was a student, and admires the efforts the school has taken recently with programs like Sources of Strength.
“I think it’s really nice that the school is trying to focus more on the spiritual stuff besides academics, because that’s always a temptation at CHS,” Nemati said. “I just recall being sort of a typical stressed-out CHS kid, kind of my personality, one of those slightly more neurotic kids.”
There are old traditions, like the lunchtime basketball tournament, that Doherty believes should be brought back.
“I was on the team ‘Buckets for Algernon’ and I was really into it,” Doherty said. “We used to spend hours designing our jerseys, our game plan and more. I wish we still did this. You got to pick your teams, [play your] music on the loud speakers and Chick-Fil-A sponsored it. The tournament usually lasted 2 months and by the championship, the gym would be completely packed.”
For Doherty, coming back to CHS was a strange flip, because he went from student to mentor in a matter of years.
“The first year [of teaching] was definitely very strange,” Doherty said. “The Social Studies office would call me ‘boy.’ They’d comment every time I didn’t wear a tie to work and say I wasn’t ‘professional.’ Mrs. Deoro always thought I was a student and would ask for a pass if she saw me in the hallway. I was only 23 years old so there definitely was a lot of heckling.”