Schools welcoming new teachers

Amy Gibson
5th grade – Wallace Elementary

1. What is your educational background?
I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies from the University of Missouri. I earned my Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from UNLV.

2. Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Blue Springs, Missouri, which is just outside of Kansas City. I moved to Lake Havasu City, Ariz., in 2013, then moved to Lake Isabella in June 2014 when I married my husband, Chris. We moved to Las Vegas together in July of 2015 for a job opportunity. After being away from the Kern River Valley for 3 years, we decided it was time to come back and really root ourselves in the community.

3. List five adjectives that describe yourself.
Level-headed, outgoing, energetic, goofy and conscientious.

4. When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
I decided to become a teacher after being an instructional aide at the high school in a Special Ed resource room. I believe teaching fits both my skill set and my personality quite well. I love that each day is different and holds a new adventure.

5. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
English

6. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?
I think students need more support and resources to be successful in academic and social demands.

7. What do you hope to learn from your students this year?
To properly teach and appreciate 5th grade students!


Emma Dehn
Special Education – Wallace Elementary

1. What is your educational background?
I taught middle school and high school choir in Salida, Colo., for 2 years. Prior to that, I substitute taught for York County School District in Yorktown, Va., as well as in Bakersfield.

2. Where are you from?
I was born in Denver, Colo., but spent most of my life in Salida, Colo. I spent my college days in Pueblo, Colo., and afterwards traveled to South Carolina, Virginia, and eventually back to California, where my husband is from.

3. List five adjectives that describe yourself.
Emotional, patient, compassionate, creative and friendly.

4. When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
I knew I wanted to be a teacher from a very young age. My granddad was the youngest “teaching” principal in the state of Pennsylvania, so he inspired me greatly, as well as my band director during my middle school and high school years. I taught music lessons to other students as a teen, and I found it to be extremely fulfilling.

5. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
I love teaching choir. I love the feeling that students and I both get after working for a period of time on a song, especially a song that has meaning to us all. When we sing a song and it finally sounds the way it should, there is a light in everyone’s eyes, and the smiles are always throughout everyone’s faces. Music provides an extra special connection with students, and I find great joy in the end result.

6. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?
My biggest challenge is moving from teaching music to Special Education.

7. What do you hope to learn from your students this year?
I hope to learn how to better myself as an educator, as well as how to incorporate the “Leader in Me” to see a positive change in my students over the time that we are implementing this amazing program.


Amanda Moreno
5th grade – Wallace Elementary

1. What is your educational background?
Kern Valley High School, CSU Bakersfield (BA in Child, Adolescence and Family Studies.)

2. Where are you from?
Lake Isabella

3. List five adjectives that describe yourself.
Creative, motivated, compassionate.

4. When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
I always loved “playing school” when I was younger, but I really fell in love with the idea of teaching in high school. I was a member of FHA and got to work with high school and middle schoolers from around the state, and I thought I would teach middle and high schoolers, but the littles stole my heart during college!

5. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
I love teaching science! I enjoy showing kids the way the world they live in works, from how everything is made up from tiny atoms to chemical reactions.

6. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?
The greatest challenge facing students today is the amount of parent participation, whether it comes to homework or volunteering in the classroom. I think that kids who see their family members involved in school will encourage them to work harder, and it will make school more enjoyable for them.

7. What do you hope to learn from your students this year?
From my kids this year, I hope to learn how to go with the flow a little more. Sometimes things do not work out, and I want to do everything I can to fix it right then and there, but hopefully my students will help me learn how to take a deep breath and let plans get rearranged more calmly.


Aaron Pierce
Preschool – Wallace Elementary

1. What is your educational background?
I have my Bachelor’s in Education from Concordia University-Nebraska and my Master’s Degree in Education from Concordia University-Portland, Oregon.

2. Where are you from?
Other than the 4 years I spent in college earning my Bachelor’s degree, the 1 year I spent in Florida, and 5 years I spent in the Los Angeles Area, I am (almost) a life-long resident of the Kern River Valley.

3. List five adjectives that describe you?
Caring, responsible, loyal, forgiving, objective.

4. When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
While in college, it was not my chosen field, but it was suggested I try teaching since I love working with kids. It was while I was doing working as a substitute in Special Ed I discovered I had a knack for working with kids in special education

5. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
It is a toss-up between Science and Math.

6. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?
Applying what they learn in the classroom in a society surrounded by hi-tech, which changes daily.

7. What do you hope to learn from your students this year?
Being in Special Ed, I hope to learn their needs and weaknesses and how to best serve them to work on these needs.


Felicia Caraway
3rd Grade – Wallace Elementary

1. What is your educational background?
North High School; Bakersfield College, Forestry; Oregon State University, BS in Liberal Studies, Elementary Education Concentration, Minor in Natural Resources; CalState Monterey Bay (through the CalState TEACH program), Teacher Preparation Program; National University, MS in Educational Counseling and PPS Credential: Only need to finish 168 internship hours and research project!

2. Where are you from?
I lived in northern San Diego County (Escondido, Oceanside, Vista) until I was 8. We moved to Hollister, which is inland from the Bay Area, and lived there until I was 12. We moved back to San Diego County, where I lived until I was 16. After starting my own family, we moved to a very remote community in Oregon, about an hour and a half east of Roseburg and 45 minutes west of Crater Lake, and we lived there until 2006. My family moved to Lake Isabella and lived here, and, for a short time, in Tehachapi until 2010. Our next adventure began in Brookings, Oregon, just north of the California border on the coast. We lived in Brookings for a little over a year and then moved to Crescent City, California, which is about 25 minutes south of Brookings. We decided we wanted to move back to Kern Valley, where I am sure we will stay. We are home!

3. List five adjectives that describe yourself.
Understanding, patient, caring, curious and investigative.

4. When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
When I was working in the forestry field, I had numerous opportunities to participate and lead programs for children. This included teaching lessons at school sites during the school year and summer programs, such as teaching children about Smokey Bear and fire safety during U.S. Forest Service events. I realized I enjoyed teaching children about our natural world and caring for the environment. I decided to change careers to elementary education and incorporate developmentally-appropriate instruction related to nature and the environment.

5. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
I enjoy planning units and lessons that integrate subject matter across all areas of instruction, especially when teaching about nature and the environment. For instance, I may take an NGSS strand that students are interested in, incorporate multiple intelligence theories when planning instruction, and include ELA, Math, and History/Social Science grade level standards throughout the unit. I try to also touch on art/music and physical education to be well-rounded and reach all students.
I also enjoy teaching social/emotional units and lessons, which are either systematically planned or on-the-spot teachable moments. Taking time to explicitly teach social/emotional lessons creates part of the base of our human needs pyramid, just above physical needs. Students cannot learn if they do not have appropriate and effective coping and self-management skills or have had acute trauma in their lives, especially recently.

6. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?
Life is very stressful even if everything is going well! Given life’s challenges, staying focused and understanding the importance of education can be difficult, and, at times, seemingly impossible. Although the human brain and body are amazing, we were made to withstand temporary stressors such as running from predators and hunting. Today’s world is fast-paced and almost constantly urgent, causing many to feel this stress on a daily basis. Children also feel the stress of any issues occurring within their families as well as the stress of school and social problems. Children may not be able to understand the purpose of education or how they can shape their educational experiences to build the foundation of their future opportunities. Most are focused on the present, especially through 8th grade. Educators can support and guide students on a path to self-discovery, which can enlighten and empower students to take charge of their future through education.

7. What do you hope to learn from your students this year?
My favorite element as a teacher is getting to know students. I thoroughly enjoy learning about students’ backgrounds, interest, families, experiences, likes, dislikes, what motivates them, their intelligences, etc. I hope to learn, fairly quickly, the teaching tone that will be more comfortable for third graders. I want them to feel comfortable, welcome, and safe as immediately as possible!


Kim Hollinger
8th Grade / Intervention – So. Fork Middle School

1. What is your educational background?
BA – Organizational Management from Ashford University, Multiple subject Intern through the credentialing program at the University of LaVerne.

2. Where are you from?
Shafter, Calif.

3. List five adjectives that describe yourself.
Friendly, giving, adventurous, organized, and loving.

4. When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
It was a natural progression for me. I was hired as a paraeducator when my son started Kindergarten at Kernville Elementary. Gradually, I accepted more responsibility at the school, first working as a librarian, and ultimately the school secretary. I absolutely love the educational community that I work in and wanted to grow into someone who could continue serving local families in such a way that made a significant impact. Teaching felt like the answer to that desire.

5. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
English/Language Arts is probably my favorite subject to teach. I love reading and writing. There are books and handwritten notes all over my house.

6. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?
Well, that is a complicated question. There are academic challenges as well as social. I believe one of the greatest challenges facing middle school students today is finding support at home because most families have to have two incomes to get by. So a lot of times, both parents are working and are not able to provide that much academic support in the home.

7. What do you hope to learn from your students this year?
This year, I hope to learn how to do a cartwheel from my students. I haven’t figured that out yet. Although I’m certain that I’ll learn much more.

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