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Getting to know the newer teachers at Oakton

There are many new faces at Oakton this year- teachers included!

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This year there have been many great additions to the Oakton High School staff. To name a few, in the science department, Mr. Kellenberger is now teaching physics. The math department lucked out in getting Ms. Kelly to teach BC Calc. In addition, Mr. Johnson has joined the social sciences group and is teaching AP Psychology. To top it off, even though she is not brand new this year, Ms. Missert is still on the newer side of teachers at Oakton.

Mr.Kellenberger:

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Mr.Kellenberger just started teaching at Oakton this year in the fall as a Physics Teacher. His interest in physics began in high school as he enjoyed the class greatly. However, when Mr.Kellenberger began college he realized that he didn’t want his whole career to revolve only around physics. “I didn’t really like the research or the experimenting and conceptualizing” he said. With a degree in physics he couldn’t see himself doing what his college professors did. However, what he really enjoyed was helping his classmates work through physics problems, and at that point he realized that teaching was something that he took pleasure in. Teaching was also a way he could go back to his high school physics experiences, but this time he would be on the other side of the desk by helping students be passionate about science.

However, teachers have a life outside of school just like students. Mr.Kellenberger does everything that high school students do: “I usually watch a lot of sports, watch TV, play video games.” On the weekends, like most people, he also likes to catch up on sleep and watch college and professional sports.

Teachers always have a backup plan in mind. If Mr.Kellenberger had another job it would probably be a Physical Education (P.E.) teacher. As Mr.Kellenberger said, “Teaching P.E. sounds like a lot of fun, however, it seems like a lot of work.” If he had to entirely move away from teaching it wouldn’t be a job that involved an office, as he does not have the strongest affinity for them. If he wasn’t a P.E. teacher, his alternative job would be in the field of civil engineering where he would be able to work outside.

Because Mr.Kellenberger is a new teacher, a large portion of his life revolves around school. “This is very normal, in the beginning it takes a lot of work upfront and time to adjust and feel prepared to teach.” Just like most teachers, Mr.Kellenberger is always thinking about students and what he can do to improve his teaching strategies. “I really enjoy what I do, I like reflecting on my teaching style and the students.” However, Mr.Kellenberger would like to cut down on the time he spends on grading, as it takes a large portion of time to get through a stack of papers.

Everyone has at least one pet peeve, and for Mr.Kellenberger it is when students don’t read the directions. So, if you’re in Mr.Kellenberger’s physics class always read the directions!

Ms.Kelly:

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Ms.Kelly is an AP BC Calculus teacher who just started teaching at Oakton this year. Every teacher decides at a certain point that teaching is something that they truly enjoy, and for Ms. Kelly this decision was made in second grade. Ms.Kelly said “My second grade teacher made her job seem really fun, and I worshipped her.” In the beginning she first wanted to be a kindergarten teacher but each grade Ms.Kelly went through was the grade she wanted to teach. In the beginning, an English teacher was something Ms.Kelly was interested in because she loves to read. However she eventually realized that there would be a never-ending amount of essays that she would have to grade, and so she turned to her second love, which is math.

When not working, Ms. Kelly still loves to read a lot, and occasionally she likes to run; except now being a teacher can be very exhausting. Being around nature, hiking or doing something outdoors is also something that Ms.Kelly enjoys. On the weekends, like many others at Oakton high school, Saturday is work free day for Ms.Kelly: “I love going to Old Town Alexandria and Georgetown.”

Ms.Kelly’s backup job would be something to do with advertising: “I have a habit of memorizing commercials ”, said Ms.Kelly. For many people around Ms.Kelly they see her as a person who relates her life to commercials.

Currently for Ms.Kelly all of her life revolves around school. Ms.Kelly often has long days ahead of her, even when she leaves school she is constantly thinking about what to do for the next day. As Ms.Kelly said, “Just like students go home and do more homework, I do that too.” Right now, she is still getting into the routine of teaching, she wants to do as good of a job for her students as she can. Simply put Ms.Kelly said, “Once I teach the same thing once or twice, I can get into the routine of things and I’ll know what to expect.”

In high school Ms.Kelly was often considered the responsible one amongst her friends. She was referred to the “mom” of the group.  Along with this she also played in the band for two years. Not only did she play the flute in the band, but she was also on her varsity school soccer team for four years. “In high school, a lot of my time went into travel soccer” Playing soccer was a year round sport for her. However, soccer was not the only important thing to her she was able to make time for volunteering. Ms. Kelly said, “I loved to volunteer at the library or the food pantry or just in generally volunteering locally.”

For Ms.Kelly one of her pet peeves is when people don’t try their best.  Ms.Kelly said, “ People who have the opportunity and ability to do something great and they don’t take that opportunity to better themselves, is frustrating.” Many times, people receive opportunities that others might never receive, and they should always utilize that opportunity and try their best to reach their maximum potential.

Ms. Missert:

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Ms. Missert is currently a freshman English teacher at Oakton. Although this is only her second year at Oakton, she has been teaching for five years.

Ms. Missert decided that she wanted to be a teacher because of something that happened to her while in high school. She was very engaged in her school community, and participated on her school’s track, volleyball, and softball team. When she was a sophomore, the boys’ team track coach unexpectedly passed away. To commemorate him, the high school held a cross country race. Not only did current students and teachers at the high school attend, but also previous students from as long as 30 years ago came to the race.  “I clearly remember looking around and being shocked that one person could have such an impact on so many people.” Because of this event, Ms. Missert knew that she also wanted to be able to reach out and impact other people’s lives in a positive way. In addition to the track coach that passed away, her other coaches throughout high school and teachers inspired her to become a teacher.

As a high schooler, Ms. Missert was very involved in her high school community. In addition to being on three different sports teams, she was a part of the school chorus. Due to this, she often sang at sporting events such as football and basketball games. Like many students at Oakton now, she was also in the National Honor Society and participated in a lot of volunteer work.

One of the hardest things about teaching for Ms. Missert was starting out and finding a good balance. “During my first few years of teaching, my life was consumed by it. I always felt like I had so much to do and would stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning grading and planning.” Although it is important for teachers to work hard with their students to prepare them well in the subject they teach, it is also vital that teachers take time to live their lives.

If  Ms. Missert isn’t at school, she is probably on the go. Her hobbies include spending time outside, running, reading and traveling. Over the weekend, she enjoys going on long runs around Washington DC, and also just walking around the city and exploring new places. Also at the top of her list would be spending quality time with her friends and family. In addition, she also likes to plan vacations and travel around.

Mr. Johnson:

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This is Mr. Johnson’s first year teaching, and he is starting out with AP Psychology and USVA History. If not history, Mr. Johnson would probably want to teach English, just because he loves books, but history has always been his favorite subject. “When I was a kid, I used to always pretend to be a teacher. Growing up and going to college, I realized that I loved history. But, there aren’t really a bunch of jobs in history and I remembered that I used to love pretending to teach, so I gave it a shot and tried out a summer internship.”

As anyone can see by walking into Mr. Johnson’s classroom, he is a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Because of this, Mr. Johnson loves both watching and playing football. In addition, Mr. Johnson is an avid videogame player- Skyer and Dark Souls are  his favorites. Another one of his hobbies is fishing, but this was influenced by his high school years growing up, “in the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania”.

Mr. Johnson moved mid way through high school, which made everything a little more difficult. He moved from California to a small town in Pennsylvania, which was not his favorite place to live. “I was kind of the awkward nerdy kid, and a little quiet.” For Mr. Johnson, it was really in college where he learned to branch out. “In high school, I had my group of friends but I was kind of average. It was really in college where I became who I am.”

Since it is Mr. Johnson’s first year, it takes a little more work to plan all the different lessons and figure out how to run his class. “At this point, quite a bit of my life revolves around teaching. But I love teaching, so it’s worth it.” Although he does enjoy the day working with students, once he gets home he is often exhausted from all the work.

As a teacher at Oakton, Mr. Johnson is constantly dealing with students. A piece of advice he would give to everyone is to, “give time for yourself. So many students are stressed out about college and academics , which is important, but you’ve also got to give your brain a rest.” Another thing he would mention to all students is to not pack up before the bell. “It’s frustrating to still have five minutes left in class and have one student start to pack up. I still have five minutes left to teach, but suddenly everyone is ready to go.” Many others have this same pet peeve, so Mr. Johnson is not alone in this.

The culture at Oakton High School would not be the same without the staff that work constantly for the students. Being a teacher is a very time-consuming job, and it can take time for teachers to get a good routine for how their class will work. It’s important for everyone to be patient with each other- just like students sometimes don’t have time to finish all their homework for the next day of class because of sports practice or family commitments, teachers also have things to do after school. As the new teachers continue to learn what works best, and the new staff works on adjusting to life at OHS, it is important for all of us to be tolerant and open to change.

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The student news site of Oakton High School
Getting to know the newer teachers at Oakton