Getting to know the new teachers at MHS

Kalhan Sparks, Writer

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For this article, the spotlight belongs to the new teachers at Murray High School. MHS has opened their arms to: Ryan Mintz, Karlee English, Josh Berry, Taryn Bartholomew, Randy Quarez, D.J. Pirkle, Carter Jennings, Lia Smith, Jantsen Teuscher, Renae Syrett, Jon Smith, and Bryan Crawford. 

Jon Smith: The photodigital teacher says, “Im very happy to be here. I love teaching, there really isn’t an aspect of teaching that I don’t enjoy.” Jon’s favorite subject in school is math, because he uses all of the learning styles when he takes in information. Mr. Smith aspires to be like Isaac Beh, because “He genuinely cares about the future of all of his students.” 

An average day in the life of Mr. Smith entails teaching, hanging out with his kids, riding bikes, taking pictures, and fixing his car. He also says the most important attribute of school is community. “A sense that we are all in this together, and that we have a commitment to help each other get through the hard times. Kindness. Always kindness.” Some advice for students and asking for help: “Be blunt. Don’t drop hints, just tell me! Be brave, know that I want to help you, but sometimes I can’t see that you need it.”

Renae Syrett: Preparing for an educational setting, or in this case, an art history class, can be “Very exciting and at the same time, it’s also very stressful because of the amount of work it takes to be prepared.” Mrs. Syrett is a hard working woman, “I’m awake early and doing last minute prep for the school day while I also get my three kids off to school. After teaching, I’m off to taxi drive my kids around, and help with homework. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a bike ride or walk in, and maybe a 15 minute cat nap!” 

Unlike most teachers here at MHS, Renae “didn’t attend the Y or the U.” She went to Willamette University in Salem, Oregon where she lived. She also lived in North Carolina before moving to Utah. Two people that Ms. Syrett is grateful to have met at Murray High are Amber Rydalch and Lynley Hogan. “They’ve both done a lot for me as far as showing me the ropes, and answering lots of questions!”

Carter Jennings: This chemistry teacher says the most important attribute of a good school is “A culture of hard work. Nobody is entitled to anything, you need to work hard to get the results you desire.” He also says the hardest thing about coming to a new school is “Seeing students give up or lose focus. Teachers are doing their best to help, and it is deflating to see people with so much potential just give up.” 

Jennings is one of two boys in his family of eight, and grew up in Springville, Utah where he would eventually move, and graduate from the University of Utah. Carter says he is grateful for Steve Scheidell’s help in this transition. “He cares about students, and gets rid of unnecessary fluff. He does the same for new teachers.”

Randy Quarez: As a health and P.E. teacher with 25 years of teaching experience, “I find that anytime a new teacher starts teaching at a new school, the students still treat the teacher as if they are new to the profession.” That being said, Coach Quarez is grateful to have met the entire Cross-Country team, and P.E. department, and he really enjoys teaching. The most important aspect of school is “The culture, one of mentoring and leadership, not one of micro managing and bosses.”

Quarez is up at the crack of dawn, to school by 7 a.m., teaches until 2:30p.m., practices with his team until 5 p.m., and follows that by a bike ride or run, and spending time with his family. Quarez says, “I’m loud and very energetic. What you see is pretty much what you get.” 

Lia Smith: Lia says some of the hardest things about coming to a new school as a math teacher are, “Figuring things out, and where things are, like the copy room, tech help, etc. Plus trying to remember people’s names!” One name that was particularly easy for Mrs. Smith to remember is Amber Rydalch, “She’s been so nice, and has answered so many of my questions!” 

Lia Smith would like the readers to know, “I actually truly love helping students and teachers, even if it has nothing to do with math, I still want to help.” Lia’s day consists of waking up at an early hour, and “Carpooling with my husband (Mr. Jon Smith) and kids” as they are in the Spartan Station. “I drink Coke and teach! After school, I play with my kids and if I have extra time, I watch New Girl, Friends, Big Bang Theory, or Modern Family. Oh, and I decorate cakes for fun.” Check out Mrs. Smith’s IG @slcakeco 

Taryn Bartholomew: Ms. Bartholomew is really excited when she says, “I am grateful for so many here at MHS, it is a great school!! I have had help and support from so many and can’t possibly just choose one!” The math teacher says, “My favorite school subject is math, of course!! I also love to dance (I teach dance at my dance studio in Salt Lake).” 

Bartholomew loves chocolate and she learns best utilizing all three learning styles (Kinesthetic, auditory, and visual). For Bartholomew, “Acceptance is a very important attribute of a good school. All students and teachers are going to be different, each of us are individuals. Murray High School is quite diverse and I love how Murray is accepting of everyone. Feeling accepted and safe is a very important key to being able to learn in school.” 

Josh Berry:  Mr. Berry is a Murray High School graduate that came back to MHS to teach math. He lives in Murray, where he grew up, and will settle down to get married in March! “Starting at a new school as a teacher can be uncomfortable for the same reasons as for new students. You don’t really know anybody yet. You don’t know where a lot of things are in school. Luckily for me, I was able to return MHS after a few years of teaching so I am very familiar with the school.”

 Berry had thought about pursuing a career in chemistry, but math has always been his favorite subject. In fact, Josh says, “One person that I am grateful to have met at MHS is Ashley McSwain. He was my calculus teacher in high school and he is the one who inspired me to become a teacher.” Preparing for a new setting wasn’t so bad for Mr. Berry. He says, “ You figure out how you want your classroom set up, move stuff around, decorate, and gradually make it your home.” 

Dennis Pirkle: Coach Pirkle was born and raised just south of Chicago, Illinois. He says, “Growing up, I watched my mother do everything she could to provide for myself, and my two siblings. Work ethic and determination is something that was instilled in us at a very young age. She taught us how to out-work people and I strive to do that every single day. Being involved in sports my entire life has also shaped my to be the person I am. I have been able to experience a lot of different things due to sports and I am grateful for that.” 

Mr. Pirkle has a lot of experience in high school and collegiate level coaching, even though this is his first year teaching at a high school. Here are some influential words from Pirkle: “To my students and athletes: While seeing you become stronger in class and producing wins on the field is important, holding you accountable, and helping you become a better person is of utmost importance to me.” Katie Jepson is one of several people that have influenced Dennis during his time at MHS. Mr. Pirkle leaves off by saying, “ A culture where being on time, attending all classes, and being held accountable for you actions, both good and bad, vital to your success as you enter the “real” world.” 

Karlee English: Ms. English was born in Utah, but her roots are embedded in the sparkling sands of Hawaii. She says, “I moved to Hawaii and fell in love with the heritage and its people.” She proceeds to talk about how she lived there for 18 years and how Hawaii is the only place she has truly felt at home. Karlee says, “I have a very hectic and crazy life. I’m a single mother of three and I take care of my dad. My job is so dramatically different from day to day due to working with kid kids with significant disabilities.”

Ms. English would like her peers to know that she is secretly a crazy cat lady but with other animals and that she is grateful to have met Jessie Dalton as she has helped her to prepare for working with young adults, rather than Jr. high kids. Before a conclusive “Mahalo”, English says, “I think the most important attribute of a good school is a community where a student can truly be him/herself without ridicule. A truly inclusive community that values everyone. When this occurs, Learning always flourishes.”

Jantsen Teuscher: Teuscher has lived in a plethora of places, He grew up in North Carolina, moved to Utah, then to California, and back to Utah. Knowing that, one can infer that Mr. Teuscher had a lot of questions regarding the new change. He says, “It’s tough, You’re not really sure how the students will greet you… Do I need to completely change my teaching style to reach these students? Will I get along with the administration and the other teachers? A lot of questions run through your head, but so far, it’s been great.” Great because of the students. “Teaching is not really a great job, if the students were terrible, I’d be out. Oh, and Mr. Ford, that guy is hilarious.”

When asked about a favorite school subject, Teucher replied, “Political science, I know I should say biology and environmental science, but political science was my first academic love and it always will be.” After waking up at 6 every morning, and “wondering if teaching is really worth waking up this early” Jantsen arrives at school only for his baldness to be put to the test. He states, “Though is may seem weird, I don’t know all the other bald teachers. For some reason, students assume we all know each other.”

Bryan Crawford: Mr. Crawford is the one of two Spanish teachers at Murray High, so there is no questioning his bilinguality. He comes from South California, where he was raised in a sports oriented home. He says, “ I am very social, and enjoy participating in all kinds of athletic type activities.” He also likes teaching physically active classes like volleyball, weight lifting, etc.  

Crawford spends a lot of time at school trying to play catch up from the beginning of the year. It is made easier with the help of language teacher Erick Perry, as he “has been a great resource for information and procedures.” FInding good resources is important to finding information in order to be successful in school. When talking about how he prefers students ask for help, Crawford says, “I always want students to advocate for themselves…Teaching is more than just putting out some solid content for students to learn, but is more based on relationships. School is really about learning HOW to learn.” 

Amber Rydalch:  Although she is not new to the profession, Ms. Rydalch is the instructional coach for teachers at Murray High School. She is the go to person when teachers, new or not, have questions or need advice in instructional skills. Rydalch says, “Teachers make and average of 1500 educational decisions a day!…Nationwide, almost half of all teachers leave the profession within the first five years, which are the hardest years on the job.” 

Rydalch says, “With this position, I want all new teachers to know that they are not  alone! I’m here to support them, so is their content mentor and PLC (professional learning community which is made up of teachers that teach similar classes.)” She also very eloquently says,” High school is a prime opportunity to investigate things that interest you. School is also a time where you develop the social skills necessary to be an effective contributing member of society…which should be everyone’s eventual goal whether they are headed to college, a job preparation program or the work-place.”