Twin Valley High School brings in four new full-time teachers
by Jack Deming
Sep 05, 2013 | 3992 views | 0 0 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print
New Teachers
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WILMINGTON- Before freshman orientation could kick off the 2013-2014 school year at Twin Valley High School last Thursday, four new teachers went through an orientation of their own. While the newest members of the faculty all have different backgrounds in education, they all bring with them a common thread of enjoying the profession, and understanding the importance of connecting with students.

Caroline Comley, a native of Schenectady, NY, and a graduate of the University of Vermont, will join the teaching staff of the special education department. Comley was previously the seventh- and eighth-grade special education teacher at Missisquoi Valley Union School in Swanton, a school which she said has many similarities to TVHS except it was much larger. Comely said that as an educator she is proactive and will work hard as an advocate for her students. “I really like that things change all the time with special education,” said Comley. “You get to know a smaller group of kids really well, and I don’t think you get that opportunity as much when you have 50 to 100 students coming through your room each day.” Special education is no easy task, and while Comley realizes this, she knows her students will see an enthusiastic teacher who cares about getting to know them. “ It’s challenging having to be a liaison between kids, parents, teachers, administrators, outside service agencies, and keeping all that organized,” said Comley. “You have to be very patient.”

Next is Sarah Grant, the new biology teacher at TVHS. Grant comes to the school after a three-year hiatus from teaching, time she took off to care for a new daughter. Grant previously taught biology for three years at Fall Mountain High School in the Walpole school district of New Hampshire, and with her daughter starting to grow up, Grant got the urge to get back into the classroom and start teaching again. “(Teaching biology) is a lot of hands-on work,” said Grant. “It’s also working on students being critical thinkers who learn science by doing science.”

While Grant says that the vocabulary of biology is detailed and complex, and needs to be broken down to be understood at times, and that biology teaches students about their surroundings and how they interact with them every day. “Students can expect lots of support and help, but I also have high expectations as far as what they’re supposed to be doing, and being critical science thinkers requires lots of reading and writing.” Something that helps with getting students to think critically, according to Grant, is the small class sizes that TVHS offers. “It’s nice to be back to teaching,” said Grant.

This year’s new social studies teacher for 10th and 11th-grade is Jeremy Taylor, a University of Maine Farmington graduate who comes to TVHS after a three-year teaching stint at Maine Central Academy in Pittsfield, ME. Taylor’s curriculum includes American History I and II, and mixes civics, geography, and history to give his students a perspective on how and why the United States fits into a global perspective. Taylor says this mixture is important in giving students an understanding of where they come from and better prepares individuals as they move forward in an evolving world. “To me the most important thing is for students to learn where we come from, so we can guide our future decisions,” said Taylor. “ It’s important to draw similarities from historical events to what goes on today.”

Taylor said that he became a teacher because he was inspired by an educator who changed his life by making him a better learner. Taylor’s goal is to pay it forward to his students. “For me, the first part is being invested in students’ education and being someone who cares about them as students and wants them to achieve success, and I expect them to go out of their way to understand the material and give unique ways to show that they learned. It’s important to attach the progress to their lives, and to show how this affects them, and how they can use it in their own lives.”

Victoria “Tory” Lamp is teaching 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-grade English at TVHS, her first job after completing a student teaching program in Cranston, RI, where she taught English classes of more than 30 students. Lamp says transitioning to the smaller sized classes of TVHS has helped her learn the ropes of full-time teaching more easily. Lamp describes her teaching methods as unorthodox. Students in her classroom will be able to help dictate how they learn their subject matter, something that Lamp says will give them independence and encourage them to take initiative. “When you allow students to have a say in what they’re learning and how they’re learning it, it allows them to take the responsibility of learning. Students are getting the same information they would in another standard classroom, they’re just getting it a different way and the students form that to what fits best for them.”

Lamp says she was not a student who took much initiative in English, in fact, it was her least favorite subject. But in her junior year of high school, she had a teacher who employed this model, and Lamp found she began to do her work because it was interesting, not because it was required. While she had to work at it, Lamp said it empowered her to take control of her learning, and she wants to inspire the same abilities in her students. English is a subject that Lamp says allows for this type of model because English and reading are not abstract and “the answer is never X.” Lamp says the transition to TVHS is also made easier by an “outrageously good support system, something you don’t come across at every school.”
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