New staff members fill key roles in new year

Marissa Manfred works through a lesson with her 7th period students. Manfred is teaching Advanced English I and II in her first year on campus.

Maya Ortiz, Editor-in-Chief

Every school year brings in new people. This year the staff has more than 30 new additions.

“I’m really excited about the new people coming in,” principal Wes Solomon said. “I think we’ve got some really experienced people.”

Along with teachers and paraprofessionals, the school also hired a new counselor. Caren Barnes, who worked with kids in the A-D alpha, retired and Amanda Farmer took her place.

All six principals returned from a year ago, and they have worked to help the new hires get acclimated as quickly as possible.

Solomon said one of the most important things when bringing new people into the school is getting them used to the culture, climate and expectations.

“What we focus on with [new teachers] is supporting people and giving them what they need to be successful in the classroom,” Solomon said. “[All] will ultimately benefit the students.”

New teachers spent four extra days in trainings and in-service before starting to meet in teams with their new colleagues.

“We avoid isolation,” Solomon said. “We partner them with people, whether that’s their department or their team teachers.”

New people means new relationships. The fine arts department is almost completely new, and the teachers coming in are excited to start building relationships with their students and with students at Kingwood Middle School. The teachers have also discussed potentially putting on a musical, which would combine multiple fine arts programs.

New relationships also come alongside reuniting others. New English teacher Michelle Gerbasich and returning English teacher Abby Wyllie met while teaching at Kingwood High School nine years ago, and now the two will teach next door to each other at Kingwood Park. Former student and new teacher Kimber Watson will join her father, coach Jason Watson, on staff this year as well.

“Kingwood Park is a place that people want to come to due to our students, parents and our community,” Solomon said. “We’re really excited about the people we feel are going to make us better because anytime we hire people, that’s what we’re looking to do — get better and grow.”

Who’s New on campus?

Billy Brittain (English/coach), Lanie Brittain (English/coach), Sydney Caldwell (social studies/AVID), Earl Campbell (math/coach), Scott Elliott (SPED/coach), Evan Farmer (orchestra), Megan Cox (dance), Amanda Farmer (counselor), Michael Garcia (paraprofessional), Michelle Gerbasich (English), Jada Jenkins (paraprofessional), Bradley Kiser (science/coach), Wade Leake (coach), Shelby Leake (paraprofessional), Marissa Manfred (English), Christine Marku (choir), Katelyn Merricks (athletic trainer), Courtney Neuwirth (tech theater), Julie Oakley (paraprofessional), Diah Omenson (paraprofessional), Breanna Osbourn (band), Esmeralda Pacheco (paraprofessional), Alan Prather (social studies instructional coach), Esber Ramos (color guard), Brenda Romero (English instructional coach), Lindsay Smith (paraprofessional), Kellye Tarver (science), Christopher Turner (theater), Cobi Vicknair (math instructional coach), Kimber Watson (math/coach), Dennis Whitmer (ISS/coach).

Who’s no longer here?

Meredith Schlosberg, John Trautner, Ashley LaMere, Kristina Bond, Stormi Champion, LeighAnn Wolfe, Spencer Austin, Sarah Woolcock, Joshua Taylor, Caren Barnes, Christine Wright, Bruce Cox, Kimberly Enockson, Stephanie Hernandez, Megan Hernandez, Allyson Pitcel, Benjamin Fahnders, Nicole Sordello, Jami Windham, Kimberly Ward, Robbie Sitka, Riley Zettlemoyer, Meagan Young, Machell Perryman, Cathey Buck, Abbey Fera, Rebecca Balaskovits, Mark Miller, Jordan Gallardo, Taylor Allison