Torch Celebrates the Kennedy Teaching Staff for Teacher Appreciation Week

Students pose with teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week.
Students pose with teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week.
Molly Martin

The halls of Kennedy are not only filled with exceptional students, but also exceptional teachers. Teachers fill the school with knowledge, support and care.

In honor of teacher appreciation week, Torch wanted to give back to our teachers by shouting out some of our favorites. 

“Storm Ziegler has his hands full with Happiness Inc., Chamber and Concert Choir, Moonlight Express and being Department Chair of the Kennedy Music Department—but where I got to fully experience ‘The Storm’ is in AP Music Theory. Ziegler takes an extremely hard class and makes the material digestible and easy. He calls us stupid when we make stupid mistakes, but he always re-explains what we forget and I appreciate his light-heartedness in his teaching,” senior Copy Editor Jersey Bilyeu said.

“Robert Young has been a fantastic teacher in my last year at Kennedy. He encourages his students to do their best at all times and his fun energy makes class interesting and enjoyable instead of boring. I felt welcome whenever I walked into his room and he was always willing to help inside and outside of class,” senior Writer Emma Beachner said.

“Bradley Horton was my teacher for two out of four of my years at Kennedy. He helped me excel in some of the hardest classes I took in high school,” Beachner said. “He helped me while I was at my lowest and praised me while I was at my highest. Going to his class made everyday better and kept me motivated. I wish I could’ve had him all for all four years of high school.”

“Lorena Harger has made my last year of high school the best year. Walking into her classroom always fills me with joy and there is never a dull moment while in class. I love how she includes fun activities like dancing and singing in our learning,” Beachner said. “Harger is also very understanding of what her students are going through and is always willing to help them in any way.”

“Jennifer Horton is an all around fantastic teacher. She makes science fun and enjoyable and makes sure everyone gets the help they need. She makes sure to involve fun hands-on labs so that students can have a chance to make learning fun instead of just writing on a piece of paper. She not only is amazing at teaching, she also cares about every individual student and will help you with anything you need, science related or not. She has always been an overall enjoyable teacher to have and I hope other students in the future can get the opportunity to have her as a teacher,” freshman Photographer Piper White said.

“While I’ve never struggled with math, I’ve struggled with math teachers. Tracy Bowers is patient and understanding with her students, dedicating more hours than there are in the day to us. While her packets use more paper than you could get from the Amazon, I can say that these last two years of being her student have been my first where I’ve never gone home and cried about math. She makes class a breeze despite the difficult topics and offers endless support with a smile,” junior Writer Maggie Goldberg said. 

“Dana Melone is one of the most hardworking teachers I know. She creates most class materials herself and designs study guides for her students. Throughout this year, we’ve done several fun activities in AP Psychology and learned interesting mnemonics to remember content. However, the thing that I am impressed by the most is how she’s so organized. I’ve noticed multiple binders, notepads and sticky notes around her table. She has every single day planned out for all classes and I aspire to be as organized and hardworking as she is,” sophomore Writer Aanya Tripathi said.

“Heather McCauley Buenzow is one of the only teachers that has validated my knowledge and made me feel confident in a subject I struggle with. Math has never been my strong suit and I’ve always been vocal about it by degrading myself with terms like dumb and stupid. However, this year, McCauley has supported my learning in Algebra II and provided a safe learning environment for any questions, even if they seemed silly. I’m so grateful for her kindness and am proud to be one of her students this year,” junior Videographer and Writer Haile Miller said. “Thank you for everything McCauley!” 

“An important aspect of being a teacher is to encourage students to share their experiences with others. During my time with Michelle Fry this year, she has pushed me to share my ideas, share my thoughts and share my knowledge. Part of being a student is not only learning from your teacher but also learning from your peers. I chose Fry because her words of motivation have furthered my education and my self confidence,” junior Writer Samuella Kasha said.

“Throughout my freshman year, I have struggled with choosing what is important to prioritize during class. Ethan Divis has taught me that it is important to have fun and socialize but to also keep a positive attitude throughout my academic pursuit as well. Our Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography class has been a handful and has not always been the most enjoyable to teach, he has taught our class with patience and constructive advice,” freshman Writer Lucy McCord said. “Divis would let us socialize with others and create engaging and enjoyable projects for us. These things kept us excited as well as focused during the class.” 

“As a freshman, I found difficulty adjusting to learning a new language. Janice Jauhiainen has made this adjustment easier. She shows that she cares about the class and gets excited when we achieve different goals. She teaches us at a pace slow enough so we can understand but still is able to keep us engaged. Señora has also provided us with many activities to prepare us for upcoming tests,” freshman Writer Bella Frese said.

“Since I started school, math has always been a difficult subject for me to understand and it just felt like a pain to sit through. However, with Jeffrey Rasmussen as my math teacher, math no longer felt so confusing. Rasmussen always made me feel comfortable when I was in his classroom, it never felt like I was judged for not knowing the problem right away. He would always ask us if we needed help and was more than welcome to answer our questions,” sophomore Photographer Kloud Smith said.

“Jenny Neilly has been a great teacher for freshmen through seniors. Neilly is a teacher that goes above and beyond to make sure that her students feel safe and that they have a person to talk to. She is a great teacher who will stay after school to answer all your questions, help with assignments you are struggling with and let her students be whoever they want,” junior Writer Claire Frank.”Thank you Señora Neilly for being an amazing teacher.” 

“You may see Syndy Richey in the hallways as you head to your classes for the day, sitting on the bench in the foyer. Most students may just think she is a hall monitor and don’t realize how much she does for our school, not only as an administrator but as an artist. She is the pianist for all of the school musicals and painstakingly goes through all of the music over and over again to help us students learn. Sweeney Todd and The Anxiety Project contained challenging music but she always did it with a smile. She never made me afraid to ask questions and always made sure we understood what we were doing. She is a wonderful teacher and I can’t wait to keep working with her for the next two years,” sophomore Designer Onnika Hallam said. 

“When I was sick for a week, right before a quiz that was worth 100 points, Jennifer Lange let me use the class time where everyone else was taking the test to study and prepare for it so I could take it another day where I was more prepared. This is just one example of how caring Madame Lange can be. When we complete an assignment, she leaves comments on it in French, saying encouraging things like “bon travail,” which means well done. She does this on almost every assignment, going out of her way to show that she cares,” sophomore Writer and Photographer River Borgerding said.

“Being in class with Alyssa Jacobson has helped me understand science way better than before. Once, I had to wait for my friend to take me home and she generously let me stay in her room. We talked about so many things other than school. She makes me feel welcome and helps me out whenever I need it. I’d get comments from her like, ‘Well, we’re going to work on our final project, but you don’t seem to struggle with those.’ She boosts my confidence and makes me believe I will do good,” freshman Writer and Designer Maddy Gilchrist said. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me Mrs. Jacobson!”

“Emily Vest is my geometry teacher. She is a first year teacher so she is learning with us and I think she is doing a great job. She is always willing to help and answer all of our questions and is open to helping kids before and after school to ensure that anyone can get help. She decorates her class to make student feel comfortable and able to learn and it makes the classroom a fun setting. Her teaching style is easy for me to understand and she always tries her best to help students understand the lesson. She never yells at the students and gives enough time for everyone to do their work. She is aware of how busy students are, so she avoids giving too much homework and does lots of review before tests and quizzes,” sophomore Photographer and Writer Talia Hutchison said.

“Craig Malicoat makes learning better by always being able to help me with my work and answer questions. I appreciate him always letting me and Kayla take candy from his desk and he always makes our day better. My chromebook is never charged for class but I’m still grateful to have a great teacher like him,” sophomore Writer Miya Parker said.

“I appreciate all Ann Brunson does. She teaches us how to be better singers and always knows how to make us laugh in choir. She’s funny and kind and just one of those teachers that we can talk to and it’s not weird,” sophomore Photographer Eden Lutz said. “My favorite memory is when she starts talking about random things, it’s nice to just get off topic and take a break from singing for a second. I’m grateful to have such a great teacher who is just as passionate about music as me.”

“In just her first year, Hannah Crowell has made such a great impact on the school and students. Crowell makes her class enjoyable and like no other science class I have been in before. Her classes are hands-on and entertaining. She is truly the nicest, most helpful and overall the best teacher. She has helped so many students in not only her classes but also from other classes. Being her student in this first year of her teaching career has been so much fun and definitely one of the best classes in my high school career,” junior Photographer Ella Smith said. 

“Math is a hard subject to teach and can sometimes be hard to learn, Kristina Merritt makes it look easy. Creating and teaching new games, activities and lessons creates a unique environment of learning that has taught me to enjoy math. She’s been supportive and engaged with every student in her class and makes math fun and understandable,” junior Managing Editor Kaitlyn Dolphin said.

“Josh Eaton always starts math class off with a ‘class huddle’, as we call it. We always have our daily questions which helps all of us out with collaboration. Eaton emphasizes three things in our class; risk-taking, perseverance and collaboration. We do activities in his class so we can get better individually and collectively,” sophomore Writer Brooklyn Gilchrist said. “Being in his class helps me talk to people and take more risks than I would have before. I can always trust that he can help me with problems that I have trouble with.”

“Sr. Malec’s class is very chill but we manage to get tons of work in. When I am having trouble with homework or a quiz, he can always help me in a way that I can understand. He has normal non-school related conversations sometimes which can really help students to be less stressed about the workload. I see him running around the classroom from student to student helping everyone out. He will sit down with students and make sure they understand before he leaves them,” Gilchrist said.

From Torch to all of Kennedy staff, thank you!

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