New Year, New Staff

With every new year comes a new batch of different teachers

Morgan Tate

Zachary Cash – Counselor

What brought you to Northwest? 

“My family and I moved from Portland, Oregon. And so just a matter of applying for jobs and Northwest was one of the interviews I had and it just seemed like a really nice fit and very welcoming and it seemed like an exciting place to work.”

What letters of the alphabet will you be counseling?

“A through E.”

What previous counseling experience do you have?

“This will be my ninth year as a school counselor, primarily at high school. I’ve had a couple of years in middle school. Before that, I worked with various children and youth agencies at the county level, working with children in foster care and doing child abuse investigation.”

How’d you end up becoming a counselor?

“I had my degree in psychology and so I knew I wanted to work with children. I didn’t really enjoy working in child abuse investigation. It just really felt kind of traumatic and sad and overwhelming. But I knew I wanted to work with children in some respect. My mom a teacher and my grandma was a teacher, so I liked the idea of a school setting. I thought school counseling paired nicely.”

What do you do as a school counselor? 

“It’s a lot of different things. Some of it is the paperwork side of it, changing schedules, looking at grad plans those kinds of things, but then there’s also the mental health piece for students who may be struggling with various different things, from anxiety and depression to just kind of figuring out how to be successful at school.”

Are you nervous about the new school year in a new school?

“Yeah, actually, I am. I had trouble sleeping last night. Not because I’m worried about how the other counselors will be or the students, but being the new kid is tough. Learning the new procedures at schools and the new computer programs and the new student population can feel kind of overwhelming.”

What are your expectations for counseling at Northwest?

“I don’t know what expectations to have. I’m assuming that it’ll go well, and there’ll be difficult times throughout the year. But I think it’s going to be fun.

Do you enjoy being a counselor?

“Yeah, I really do. Students, especially if they’re struggling, find success and accomplish their goals. It’s nice to be a part of that.”

Cordia Hammonds – Biology and Global Issues

How did you end up teaching what you’re teaching?

“I went into physical therapy for a little while and then respiratory therapy. I loved it, but I didn’t like the hours and I didn’t like the environment. I originally went to school for teaching. And I really like teaching science and biology and whatnot. So I was like, let’s get back into that.”

Steve Fischer – Physical and Earth Science

What kind of workload do you give to students?

“I have a daughter that’s a sophomore in high school, so I know that students have a lot of activities. My goal is that they should have enough work that they can get done in class if they’re working on the assignment and on task, but they shouldn’t have homework on a regular basis.”

Shawnesea Holst – Theater and English

Why did you choose to teach drama class?

“ always wanted to be a theater teacher. I had a really terrible theater teacher when I was in high school. She didn’t really want to do her job. I was a senior so she just sort of let me teach her classes. I’ve kind of been teaching theater since I was 17. When I went to college, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I also knew that in the state of California, the theater and English credential is one and the same. I was going forward with the expectation that I would teach both, in California. When my husband and I moved out to Kansas, the rules were different. I went ahead and got my certification in both. I’m glad I did because it’s really hard to get a theater job without that English endorsement. That’s how I got my foot in the door at Hocker . Because Hocker’s theater position was halftime theater, halftime English, I was teaching English there for a little while as well. I built up the program big enough that I had not taught English for several years and I hope to do the same thing here.”

Nicholas Walters – Integrated Algebra One  

Tell me about your teaching style.

“For the most part, growing up my math teachers were really traditional. They would stand up there, and they would talk to the whole class. Then you’d get homework, you would either do the homework, after school or before class, and then bring it the following day and repeat. I want time in the classroom for the students to try and make mistakes, to work through problems and talk with me so that they don’t have to come early or after school.”

Tatiana Briceno – Integrated Math Two

How did you end up teaching what you’re teaching?

“I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and when I came here, I was an ESL student. I didn’t know English back then. So when I was 16, I was naturally good at math, and I would help my other ESL peers. That’s how my love of teaching began.”

Jeffery Nesselhuf – Financial Literacy

What’s something new you hope to bring to this classroom?

“I like to think I have a decent sense of humor. I’d also like to go ahead and bring as  current events in that I can, so we can really engage with what’s happening in the world at the time.”

Katherine Cole – Counselor

What brought you to Northwest?

“My husband took a position in the KC Metro and we were transferred to this area. Looking at school districts, I wanted to join a great team with great administration and Gruman and LyDay really wowed me.”

Brett Eichman – Director of Bands

Are you nervous about filling the shoes of former band director Penny Snead?

“Of course. There is an element that is really nice because I learned so much from her. Everything I know about being a band director, all of my real world and record information, is  from watching her. This is my first year in this position. She had been head director for 35 years when she left. That is longer than I’ve been alive. So yeah, it’s huge shoes to fill. But I’m excited about the potential. We’re keeping a lot of things similar to what they were, so it feels a lot like the band that they recognize and we’re able to add some fun and exciting new things.”