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Teachers having to make the transition

Published 8/28/2012 in Special Sections : GCHS

Students not the only ones having to settle into new surroundings.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

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Brad Nading/TelegramGarden City High School band students organize in the band room to go have a group photograph taken for the yearbook on Aug. 18. The new band room is over twice as large as the previous school.

Brad Nading/TelegramGarden City High School band students organize in the band room to go have a group photograph taken for the yearbook on Aug. 18. The new band room is over twice as large as the previous school.

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Brad Nading/ Telegram A group of Garden City High School students get condiments for their food on the first day of closed lunch period as others go through the lines in the cafeteria.

Brad Nading/ Telegram A group of Garden City High School students get condiments for their food on the first day of closed lunch period as others go through the lines in the cafeteria.

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Brad Nading/TelegramGarden City High School teacher John Ford, center, shows freshmen where the office is for the freshman academy Wednesday during the first day of school.

Brad Nading/TelegramGarden City High School teacher John Ford, center, shows freshmen where the office is for the freshman academy Wednesday during the first day of school.

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Brad Nading/TelegramA group of Garden City High School students get condiments for their food on the first day of closed lunch period as others go through the lines in the cafeteria.

Brad Nading/TelegramA group of Garden City High School students get condiments for their food on the first day of closed lunch period as others go through the lines in the cafeteria.

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Brad Nading/Telegram A portion of the Garden City High School commons area is shown on the first day during one of the lunch periods at the school. GCHS has a closed lunch hour this year.

Brad Nading/Telegram A portion of the Garden City High School commons area is shown on the first day during one of the lunch periods at the school. GCHS has a closed lunch hour this year.

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Brad Nading/TelegramDiego Murillo, left, feeds a dollar bill  in to a vending machine outside the Garden City High School cafeteria Thursday to get a turkey sandwich and fruit as Jessica Harman helps in through the process. The vending machines provide students a choice of either a turkey or ham sandwich or a garden salad so they are not waiting in the lunch lines. Murillo is a GCHS sophomore and Harman is the assistant supervisor for the GCHS cafeteria.

Brad Nading/TelegramDiego Murillo, left, feeds a dollar bill in to a vending machine outside the Garden City High School cafeteria Thursday to get a turkey sandwich and fruit as Jessica Harman helps in through the process. The vending machines provide students a choice of either a turkey or ham sandwich or a garden salad so they are not waiting in the lunch lines. Murillo is a GCHS sophomore and Harman is the assistant supervisor for the GCHS cafeteria.

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Becky Malewitz/ TelegramStudents mill around the cafeteria during the second lunch period Thursday.

Becky Malewitz/ TelegramStudents mill around the cafeteria during the second lunch period Thursday.

Not only does the new Garden City High School bring changes for students, but it's also a transition for their teachers.

While the classes being taught will be the same as the ones taught at the old high school, for the most part, the technology and academy format will provide for more tailored instruction, based not only on individual students' learning patterns but also upon their chosen career paths.

Destiny Saffer, Kim Costa and Stephen Grieshaber taught at the old high school, and all three said they are excited about the possibilities that the new school and new technology will bring to their classrooms.

Saffer is a special education English instructor and is starting her second year at the high school. She said that the main changes for her will be covering more ground and utilizing technology to help her students.¬ 

"I'm a traveling teacher number one, so that's the big change for me, in terms of the amount of ground I'll have to cover is much more," she said.

Being a traveling teacher means that Saffer provides support within traditional English classes, so in total, 166 students are enrolled and she has a case load of 13 students with special needs.

"That's the class within a class model. It's an inclusion model, so it's a regular Ed English class with added support for the kids with special needs," she said.

There will be four academies at the new school: the Academy of Trade and Health Science, the Academy of Arts and Communications, the Academy of Public Service and the Ninth Grade Academy. Within each of these academies, there will be teachers of different subjects, who combine efforts as a means of integrating academic and technical curriculum. Students will participate in different academies each year, which will better prepare them for college and careers,

Saffer said this academy format will allow her to provide more focused instruction, in terms of tailoring English to fit the career goals of each of her individual students.

"We might teach a little more technical writing in the trade academy classes, and in arts and communications, we might teach a little more creative writing," she said. "So, it's a little more tailored."¬ 

In terms of technology, Saffer said,¬ she is most excited about the iPads students and teachers will be using and applications that will come along with them.

"We have all this new technology, which is really great for my kids, my special needs kids, because there are so many things I can do for them with the iPads," she said. "Vocabulary is a big deal for my kids, so with the iPad, I have all sorts of tools to put in their hands that will help them be more successful."

Some of these apps include a dictionary app, a note taking app and an app that will take dictation from a student.

"There are a couple of kids that have trouble handwriting stuff, and sometimes they're not very fast typists either. But with the Dragon dictation, they can talk to their iPad, it'll type out what they say and then they can send it to their email and then fix it in a word document," she said.¬ 

The types of additional resources available through websites and apps is also something that Grieshaber, who is a speech teacher, said he'll be doing.

"When they do research, they don't know how to correctly research and they think that if it's on Facebook, it's true, so this is a good way I can try to filter them and show them which are good resources," he said.

He also said that the apps will not only help students with organization but also help him monitor their homework assignments more closely, as the assignments will be posted on the iPads.

"It helps with kids who say they didn't turn in assignments, and you can say, 'I gave that to you,' and they can't say, 'No you didn't.'" There won't be any more of 'the dog ate my homework,'" he said and laughed.

Grieshaber also will be teaching Freshman Success and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), which is a college readiness program.

"It's trying to get kids who are the in between. We focus a lot on the kids who are doing really well in school or the kids who are doing bad in school, and there's really kind of that middle that's left behind. So it's really a program to get them to the next level, kind of like a college preparatory class, and they take it all four years (with me)," he said.

This consistent contact throughout the students' high school careers will be a change for the better, he said.

Kim Costa, who is beginning her second year at the high school, also teaches Freshman Success, as well as physical education. She said the most positive instructional change for her department is the facilities.¬ 

"It's a huge change because we have a lot more facilities. I have two classes that are 41 kids for PE. It was the same way over there (at the old high school). Sometimes, some were 50, and we just didn't have the space and were sharing a small gym with other teachers, where here, it's humongous compared to the other. We also have an aerobics dance room, where before, we were using the wrestling room ... tennis courts now, there's just a lot more space for the kids. It's very exciting for the department," she said.

Costa said that having the iPads also will be a benefit to her instructional approach. She said the Nike Training app will help her students customize their fitness plans.

"You go in, and it has all these different workouts you can do, whether you're doing cardio or trying to lift weights or whatever the case may be, and it starts at the beginning. ... That way they can tailor it, too. It's really good," she said.

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