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The 2017-18 school year holds a challenge for the Orchard School, but the staff is looking at it as an opportunity to grow. Throughout the year, three teachers will welcome new additions to their families and the community.
For this upcoming year, Principal Cathy Cooper and the staff are taking it step-by-step to prepare for the absence of vital teachers in the building. However, there is no doubt that Cooper has few worries for the months to come.
“We have a faculty that is always willing to pitch in and help. And just knowing when they will be gone and when we will be asking some more things of them to help fill the gaps contributes a lot to the preparation,” she explained.
The OPS faculty is always willing to help each other and even the substitutes coming in for long terms will be welcomed with open arms.
Starting late September, the school will have their first teacher absent, Emily Heithoff. She teaches K-12 music, as well as band and choir. Her loving background in music goes back to her six years of schooling at Wayne State College where she received her K-12 Music Education degree, and she is now continuing on to her fourth year of teaching.
Heithoff voiced her most cherished part of teaching when stating, “Getting to interact with the students and just watching them grow throughout the year is so inspiring to me. I love working with all of the kids.”
Heithoff is expecting a little girl September 21st, and she plans on taking six weeks of maternity leave. She is leaving her classroom behind in the hands of Amanda Shabram with hardly any worries.
“My sub is Amanda Shabram, and she is a certified music teacher. So, making my plans for her is super easy. I can simply make my lesson plans like usual, and she can just take over from there. It’s really nice to have someone like that in our community to help,” said Heithoff.
Carrying over to the beginning of October, OPS will see another new baby when the business and technology teacher, Carrie Williamson, will take her six weeks of leave. Williamson received her Bachelor’s in business at Wayne State College, and is currently receiving her teaching certificate at the University of Kearney. Having a family of two and taking classes can be stressful for Williamson, but her passion to help her students keeps her drive strong.
“Being able to help in any way possible, from educational questions to personal issues. I love to be able to help the kids,” she said.
To prepare for her leave, Carrie Williamson is planning on beginning her lesson plans and just keeping her faith in her sub, Shayna Cleveland. As well as the others, she does not have many worries when leaving her classroom in the experienced hands of her substitute.
“I am worried about absolutely nothing, I know Shayna will do amazing,” Williamson stated without hesitance.
After a little break of having no teacher's absent, Nicole Strope, the 7-12 English and Journalism teacher, will take her turn to welcome her newest edition at the beginning of February. Strope began her education journey at the University of Kearney which continued on for six years. During these six years, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and endorsement in 7-12 English, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instructions. She is currently teaching her fourth year.
Even though she has a little bit more time, Strope is setting her preparation goals early.
“I haven’t started preparing yet because I am still pretty early on in my pregnancy. But, right after Christmas I will start making lesson plans for all of my classes for the second semester. And I will be sure to have all of my learning goals printed and everything ready to go. So, that it will be an easy transition.”
Amanda Shabram is taking her second role as a long-term substitute for the year when she comes in to cover for Nicole Strope.
Nicole Strope voiced her concerns when stating, “Teaching seven different classes of English can be quite a handful at times, but I know that Amanda will do an excellent job.”
Throughout the difficult times of planning, the three teachers have been able to lean on each other and other members of staff for support.
Williamson stated, “It’s pretty awesome being able to bounce questions off of each other and having the support that we will make it through has been really great.”
Strope chimed in with Williamson, “We all know what we are going through. Especially with it being Mrs. Heithoff’s first pregnancy, she can always ask questions. We are just each other’s support system. From stressing out about sub plans to pregnancy issues, we have each other’s back.”
“Yes, Mrs. Strope and Mrs. Williamson have been so helpful to me. It is just really nice to have others to ask questions and just really experience it together,” Heithoff appreciatively agreed.
The three pregnancies has been a fun experience for Orchard, and the challenge brought to the school this year will definitely be a learning experience for the school. But, there is no doubt that everyone is excited about the new babies.