White Station welcomes new teachers


Samhita Swamy

New teachers (left to right) Ms. Maxwell, Mr. Piantedosi, Ms. Quezada, Ms. Cable, Coach Billings, Ms. Longino, Mr. Sims, Mr. Robbins, Ms. Hill, and Mr. Chiego have all expressed their enthusiasm at joining the White Station community.

The Shelby County School merger forced many teachers to leave under populated schools for crowded schools. For White Station, this means 24 new teachers. White Station has at least 2200 students; therefore, these teachers level out the teacher to student ratio.

According to the Shelby County School’s website, the new district is also trying to mix experienced teachers with teachers who are still learning the ropes. They also raised their teacher expectations, requiring more out of teachers through evaluations and lesson planning.

Kashundra Hill, an eleventh grade English and speech teacher and debate team coach, is an eight-year teaching veteran. She has won the most prestigious teachers’ fellowship, America Achieves, sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Because of this achievement, Ms. Hill will meet Mr. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, over fall break. She has appeared twice on MSNBC’s Education Nation TV segments, and even met Mitt Romeny last year. Ms. Hill is also a Fullbright Teacher Exchange and hopes to teach in the Czech Republic next semester.

Another teacher to travel the world is the new assistant band director, Mr. Simms. His travels include parts of Europe, South Africa, and South America. He has been a professional musician since he graduated high school, and even used to be a baker and pastry chef. Baking, spending time with his daughter, and playing woodwinds are some of his hobbies.

Ms. Quezada is a new teacher in the hearing impaired program. She said, “I’m both a hearing impaired teacher and hearing impaired myself. It’s a challenge for me and the students, but I can empathize with them better…I can see how they are reacting…I know what it’s like.”

Like Ms. Oster, Ms. Ryder, Ms. Caldwell, and Ms. Kannady, some of these new teachers are White Station alumni. Mr. Piantedosi, Mr. Henry and Mr. Chiego each expressed enthusiasm t returning to his alma mater.

Mr. Henry said, “[Being back at White Station] is surreal. It’s very strange being on the other side of the desk. Several of my previous teachers are now my colleagues. The people who I previously looked at as mentors are now my peers and that’s a very big adjustment for me.”

Despite the change and confusion, these teachers are ready to face the school year with positive attitudes. “With the merger, I had an opportunity to change schools and White Station was at the top of the list for me,” said new math teacher Mr. Kelley.

Ms. Maxwell, an Algebra I and Honors Algebra II teacher, said, “This is the best school in Memphis, where I want my own children to go.”

Ms. Longino, a psychology teacher, said, “We’re surrounded by a multicultural environment here. I feel like I’m learning as much from the students as I hope they’ll learn from me…I was told this was one of the best high schools to work for. Everyday I’m realizing this is more and more true.”