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.”
On Mar 12, many students, including myself, walked out of class at 1 p.m. in a demonstration against President Bush's planned war in Iraq. Much of the school attended the walkout; several corridors were almost completely emptied. Students "signing in" and picking up brochures full of information about Bush's controversial policy packed the cafeteria, where students planned to rally, to capacity. The first thing I noticed was that signs were everywhere: lifted by arms, taped to wooden poles, draped across the soda machines, and growing out of backpacks. One or two of the signs even read "Go back to class, slackers!"
"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.
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.
The sophomore class of the Communication Arts Program (CAP) passed two Iraq resolutions Mar 13, during their first session of foreign policy CAP Congress. While both bills called for the United States to use military actions against Iraq, the students ensured that America would not go to war.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
What is it about talking to a teacher out of class that makes it so un-comfortable for a student? For the most part, students look at their teachers as people with whom they are forced to put up with everyday, whose names' begin with either mister, miss or misses and above all, are boring people who live at school. Without much probing, however, it becomes obvious that the teachers here at Montgomery Blair High School are in fact a colorful bunch.
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.
Suzanne Harvey, a staff development at Montgomery Blair High School, grew up in Cecil County, Maryland. She was raised in the same house her father was born and died in. Harvey received her elementary education in a two-room school house. She was an intelligent child always ahead of her grade. She completed elementary school early but had to stay for the rest of fifth grade and was therefore assigned to help younger children having problems in reading or math. This helped her because, as she puts it,
ESOL teacher Ailish Zompa did not realize that she wanted to become a teacher until college. Even though her mother was a teacher, Zompa had always thought she would become a journalist. Luckily, she chose to teach instead. She is now an ESOL teacher at Blair and is very happy with the path her career has taken.
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