Making the Transition Easier: New staff settles in

As the bus screeches to a sudden stop, students take a deep breath, fix their new ‘do, brush their almost wrinkle-free pair of Levi’s, and collide with cold air. It’s the first day of school, and they, whether freshmen or returning upperclassmen, are confronted with the jitters that make the hairs on their arms stand.

Whether students realize it or not, this year’s new staff members held similar feelings when they began their first day at Kerr. However, the friendliness of the staff and students made the transition from one school to another easier for the new faculty.

English teacher Angela Andrews was surprised by how welcomed she felt with her co-workers and students.

“Many of them would speak to me first even when I didn’t know them,” Andrews said. “It was a wonderful feeling.”

Counselor Mary Meadows had a similar reaction.

“[Kerr] is small and family-oriented,” Meadows said. “Everyone is really friendly.”

The challenges that accompany a new job still exist despite the warm welcome. Special Education teacher Martha McNeil balances working with students at Kerr and working with students at Alief Early College High School, two different learning environments.

“It’s a positive challenge because I am trying to get used to such an advantage, working with so many different students,” McNeil said.

Having transitioned from a traditional classroom setting, some of these new teachers find it challenging to reserve time to learn more about their students.

“It’s hard to make time for the students to get to know me and me to know them,” choir director assistant Fredy Bonilla said.

Andrews encounters a similar issue with her students.

“Having to handle two classes at the same time, I find myself having a difficult time learning my students’ names,” Andrews said. “I can’t remember their names as quickly as I would if I had only one class in my schedule.”

The new members tweak their unfamiliar surroundings by applying their skills and expressing their individuality.

Before arriving at Kerr, Meadows was a drill team director at Alief Taylor High School. Having come from one school to another and into a different position, Meadows puts her drill team director skills to the test when assisting students as their counselor.

“[I use] my organizational and communications skills,” Meadows said. “Just my love for working with the students.”

Bonilla is a recent graduate of the University of Houston; he tries to begin and build relationships with those around him.

“It’s really about making connections with the students and teachers,” he said.

While these new members adjust to their different surroundings, one familiar face receives a change of scenery. English teacher Ayn Nys is the new AP Language teacher.

“We’re experiencing this together and, so far, we’re on the right track,” Nys said.

Like Andrews, Meadows, McNeil, and Bonilla, Nys meets challenges that accompany a new set of tasks. She learned a lot from former AP Language teacher Sarah Urban, but views this position as a chance to start fresh. She reads and researches the different ways she can approach the course her own way, feeling privileged to know where her students stand in her new class.

“I know their names and their weaknesses,” Nys said. “Knowing exactly what was given to them last year, I can rebuild that instruction.”

Being more aware to those around her has helped her adjust smoothly.

“I hear others out and listen to their needs,” Nys said. “I am new to the course, so I try to make wise decisions and give wise advice.”

Juniors Antonio Padilla and Amy Tang had Nys as their Pre-AP English II teacher and both like having her again as their AP English teacher. Padilla appreciates the idea that he recognizes someone in his schedule.

“It’s easier to enter another grade level when you know the teacher you’re getting,” Padilla said.

Tang also enjoys knowing the grading style of at least one of her teachers.

“I know how she grades rhetorical analyses,” Tang said. “This gives me a sense of security because I know how to improve my grades.”

As the school year continues and relationships begin to build, the first-day nerves sink deep beneath the skin and what others see is the mentality to move forward. Meadows, along with the rest of the new staff and teachers, anticipates that the new year will bring success and positive memories.

“I want to know all of my students and embrace the Kerr family.”