Photo by Liam Klein
Since schools closed due to COVID-19, there have been many new teachers in the WCHS community. In total, 28 new staff members are new to WCHS; 23 of them are teachers. Due to remote learning, it has been more difficult than ever to connect and get to know new teachers, so here is a little more about a few of them.
Meet Mr. Vickery. Before teaching at WCHS he taught seventh-graders and eight-graders at Montgomery Village Middle School, one of the schools that feeds into Watkins Mill High School. He also taught ESOL in Medellin, Colombia and Madrid, Spain. The classes he teaches include Honors Modern World History, AP Economics, and Personal Finance.
“Economics and Personal Finance both give students practical and important skills. They need to learn how to handle situations they will face throughout their life,” Vickery said.
Outside of school, Mr. Vickery is an avid golfer. A fun fact about Mr. Vickery is that he is a distant cousin of our school’s namesake Winston Churchill. The thing Mr. Vickery is most looking forward to when school opens in-person is getting to know his students even better and attending school events such as plays and sports games.
Also new to the social studies department is Ms. Young. Similar to Mr. Vickery, she has also taught abroad before teaching at WCHS. She taught history at the American College of Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria, which is the oldest American high school outside of America. At WCHS, Young teaches AP US History, Honors US History, and an elective called SMAC.
“I love to travel more than anything. I’m a voracious reader. I listen to way too many podcasts, and I love a good museum,” Young said.
Her favorite holiday, Halloween, is coming up and she looks forward to watching all things mystery, true crime, thriller and horror. Some of the sports teams she roots for include Louisiana State University, which is her alma mater; outside of that her favorite pro sports team is the Pittsburgh Steelers. One fun fact about Ms. Young is that she was born with eleven fingers.
Mr. Blanchard is one of the new Career and Technology Education teachers. Outside of school, Blanchard enjoys reading fiction.
“My favorite writer right now is Ali Smith, who recently published Summer, the final installment of her Seasonal Quartet. I think she is operating at the highest level of literature. Her writing is funny, smart and incredibly moving,” Blanchard said.
The classes he teaches are AP Computer Science Principles, Foundations of Engineering and Technology. He believes that these classes are important and students should take them due to the classes’ wide range of subjects in the curriculum.
“Engineering and computer science engage with lots of other academic disciplines: we do math, we learn history, we do science, we make art. And so my classes appeal to a wide range of interests, skills and sensibilities,” Blanchard said.
Before he came to WCHS, he taught at a variety of schools ranging from the University of Alabama to St. John’s Preparatory. One interesting thing about Mr. Blanchard is that he is writing a musical about a volcano. When school starts in person again, Blanchard is looking forward to bringing in his homemade cookies and cinnamon biscuits.
Ms. Best is one of the three teachers new to the WCHS science department. Before coming to WCHS she worked at the University of Maryland as a teaching assistant for organic chemistry. While at the college, she worked on research involving synthesizing carbohydrates.
“A lot about chemistry applies to our everyday lives, and students should take the class because it affects so much of their lives,” Best said.
In her free time, Ms. Best enjoys hiking and watching her favorite show, “Grey’s Anatomy,” which recently returned for its 17th season.
“I got into hiking over this past summer when most things were closed, I still consider myself somewhat of a newcomer,” said Best.
Lastly, Mx. Bartlebaugh, who previously interned at Eleanor Roosevelt High school and before that, they worked in theater as an actor and playwright before working at WCHS. Outside of school, they enjoy watching the “Avatar the Last Airbender,” “The Legend of Korra” and competing and training in endurance biking. Every year they compete in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa or RAGBRAI. In school, Mx. Bartlebaugh teaches AP Language and Composition, and Honors English 10. One of Mx. Bartlebaugh’s biggest beliefs in teaching is the importance of communication.
“I think that learning to communicate effectively is one of the strongest skills you can get coming out of high school. We live in a world with lots of communication and messaging and you need to be able to comprehend and communicate,” Bartlebaugh said.
A commonality thread throughout all the teachers was that they are looking forward to the day school returns in person and being able to teach and interact with students through more than a computer screen.
“I feel like it’s been hard to make real connections and build relationships in the virtual world. I’m looking forward to really getting to know my students beyond the black squares on my computer screen,” Young said.