Meet the new teachers

Bethany Bergschneider, Editor

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Every school year brings new things—new class schedules, new freshmen, and new coats of paint in classrooms. Sometimes, it brings a few new teachers as well. This year, however, is a bit out of the ordinary in that Franklin Jr./Sr. High welcomed more than a few new teachers—five, to be exact. 

Mrs. Taylor is our junior high special ed teacher. She replaced Mrs. Fitch, who retired last year. Mrs. Taylor previously taught at Triopia and Edinburg, and she heard about this job through the ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) website. “I love it here at Franklin. I love the block-8 schedule. That’s a big plus. And the students are just so sweet. I’ve not met a student that I didn’t like.” The only thing she doesn’t like about being here is climbing the stairs up to the third floor every day. 

Outside of school, Mrs. Taylor enjoys cooking, cross-stitch, and crochet. She also loves her two dogs, both of which are rescued. As for plans for the rest of the year? “I’m just looking forward to having a great year with the kids and watching the light bulbs go off when they catch ideas.” 

Mr. Viles is filling the special ed position for our previous teacher, Mrs. Stocker. After seven years of teaching at Virginia, he ended up in Franklin through a personal suggestion. “I had a student teacher from MacMurray second semester of last year and she got a job at Waverly. She knew that I wanted to teach at Franklin if I could. She found out there was an opening and emailed me, and I hightailed it over here to talk to the principal.” Mr. Viles’s desire to teach at Franklin actually goes back to his time in college.

 “My mentor, Bev Johns, actually helped set up the special education program here a long, long, long time ago. She was one of my teachers at MacMurray. I knew they had a very good program here, and that Franklin has the Independent Living program, a STEP program, a work-study, and they let kids leave to go to CACC. That’s the stuff I really wanted to do, and I wasn’t having any luck getting those programs started where I was, so I wanted to come here where they already existed.”

Similar to Mr. Viles, Mr. Graven heard about this job through an acquaintance. “When Mr. Suits found out that he was taking the Carlinville job, he reached out to me because he knew that I was applying for other jobs.” He was hired to teach PE, power training, and driver’s ed, as well as to coach high school boys basketball. 

Like Mrs. Taylor, Mr. Graven has also enjoyed our class schedule. “I’ve never had block-8 before. This is the fifth school I’ve been at, and we’ve always had a traditional schedule. Having the 80 minutes is awesome, especially with what we want to do in the weight room.”

Mr. Gray doesn’t have an easy job title to give—he teaches 6th grade math and keyboarding, 7th grade math, 8th grade fine arts, high school science, and behind-the-wheel. He also has coached basketball for the past 10 years, which was what originally brought him into teaching. Although he isn’t a coach here, he’s looking forward to new opportunities and experiences in his position. 

“It’s exciting to teach without being a coach. I’ve always done both, and just teaching allows me to get to know my students more since I’m not concerned with my own players, so it’s exciting to meet kids, meet the staff, and become part of the team.”

Ms. Spencer’s first experience working at Franklin was last year as high school volleyball coach. This year, she joined the teaching staff as a PE and health teacher. “I taught at Divernon and went to school at Waverly, so a small school has been a very good fit for me. The teachers have been nice, the kids have been respectful, it’s a good environment to be in, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot.” 

Block schedule was something almost all of the new teachers brought up, and Ms. Spencer was no exception. “I was on block schedule a long, long time ago, but I’ve been on traditional forever, so it’s been an adjustment to get used to the block schedule. I still have to write down A and B days so I’m at the right place at the right time.”

These teachers here are all different in their own ways, from job titles to years teaching to hobbies. However, they’re similar in that each of them is looking forward to having a great year of new experiences here at FHS.