One Quarter Down with New Teachers at BHS

by Sara Wolf

Bellbrook High School students were introduced to quite a few new staff member faces this school year. Among many of these were a few–Mrs. Knisley, Mr. Phelps, Mr. Kapka and Mrs. Buedel-Herrman–who all took time to answer questions from students about themselves and how they’ve liked their first quarter here as Golden Eagles.

Mrs. Knisley has been teaching for three years and is teaching in the Learning Lab, Testing Room and Reading Lab. When asked what one of her favorite memories she’s had so far, she responded, “I have already had so many great memories here at Bellbrook High School. The one memory that stands out the most are the Homecoming events. The spirit and excitement of the week will be a lasting memory.” She was inspired to become a teacher by her love for learning and working with kids, and “the moment when a student connects with a concept and is excited to learn.” Mrs. Knisley says the best part of her job is working with BHS’s students and staff.

Mr. Phelps currently teaches English 9 & 10 CP classes, though he’s spent his previous 9 years in education as a Spanish teacher or assistant principal. Sophomore Mara Neal points out that, “Mr. Phelps is an extremely good English teacher despite the fact that he’s never taught English before. He’s always fully prepared and makes sure we fully understand things before moving onto new concepts. He’s also very approachable and encourages people to ask for help with whatever they need.” Mr. Phelps said that one of the most memorable moments he’s had at BHS was during the staff’s A.L.I.C.E. training to learn how to respond in emergencies. “This involved tackling Mr. Hann, which is a very strange way to get started working with your new boss!” he commented. When asked what inspired him to begin teaching, Mr. Phelps said, “I had two amazing high school teachers, one taught English and the other taught Spanish. Both were such dynamic people that one instantly loved their classes and understood what real learning is.  They encouraged me to pursue a college education and really helped me along the way.  You see I was first in my family to go to college, so I didn’t have a lot of help or support at home with academic pursuits.” Mr. Phelps also said that his students are undoubtedly the best part of his job. “It is so fun to engage kids in the content and see them ‘getting it.’  My goal as a new English teacher is to have students leave my class as better readers and writers than when they walked in. I am working harder than I ever have as a teacher because English is a big job, but I am truly enjoying what I am doing, so it doesn’t really feel like work.” Many of Mr. Phelps’ students would be quick to say that his class doesn’t feel like the normal load of boring work either. “He’s actually the funniest teacher I’ve ever had,” says Sophomore Hayden Bullock.

Mr. Kapka has taught in Xenia for 6 years and at Sinclair for half a year. He’s currently teaching Geometry CP, Transitional Algebra, and the Essentials of Algebra II. He says his favorite experiences so far have simply been his interactions with the students at BHS. When asked what inspired him to teach, he responded, “I love math. Someone told me when I tutored them that I was great at explaining the mathematics so I became a math teacher.” He also explained that his favorite part of his job is helping kids develop both math and real-life skills. Freshman Caden Barr really loves the time he’s spent in Mr. Kapka’s class so far this year. “He brings so much energy into class. He’s very passionate about his teaching and you can see how hard he works to make it fun for the students,” Barr says. “He’s that teacher that you look forward to having next period because of his upbeat teaching and his ability to act like he’s your friend.” Sophomore Ally Keefer remembers a day when Mr. Kapka laid out the ground to work with Barr. “Mr. Kapka is a great and funny teacher,” she says. “If we need help in class, he will go to the point of laying on the floor to help us if that’s where we are doing our work.”

This is Mrs. Buedel-Herrman’s 10th year teaching. She currently teaches English 10 Honors, English 11 College Prep, and film classes here at the high school. Mrs. B-H thought that tackling Mr. Hann alongside other new staff members during A.L.I.C.E. training was definitely her most memorable experience so far. When asked what inspired her to teach, she responded, “I had some amazing teachers in high school. My two favorites were Ms. Makstutis, my creative writing teacher, and Mrs. Murdock, my 9th, 11th, and 12th grade English teacher. They challenged me academically and helped me develop as a reader and a writer. Their passion for their students definitely inspired me to become an educator, and I feel fortunate to have been under their tutelage.” She says the best part of her job are the students at BHS. “It’s always a treat to get to know my kids and see how they grow over the course of our time together.” Sophomore Bergen Eppers says, “I absolutely love her as a teacher. She’s very kind and eager to improve your English skills…I love her way of teaching. It gets the students involved in discussion and more hands-on type of learning.”

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