Campus Connections takes a look at some of the newest staff members on campus. (Maddie Owens)
Campus Connections takes a look at some of the newest staff members on campus.

Maddie Owens

Campus Connection: volume VIII

September 22, 2021

More than twenty new staff members are on campus for the 2021-2022 school year and every day in Campus Connection, Wingspan introduces you to the newest Redhawks.

Receiving+her+undergraduate+degree+from+Texas+A%26M%2C+and+her+masters+degree+from+Tarleton+State%2C+Avant+is+teaching+floral+design%2C+survey+of+agriculture%2C+equine+science%2C+and+small+animal+management.%0A

Receiving her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M, and her master’s degree from Tarleton State, Avant is teaching floral design, survey of agriculture, equine science, and small animal management.

Brittney Avant

The school has many new faces on campus this year, and among them is Brittney Avant, the school’s new agriculture teacher. Receiving her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M, and her master’s degree from Tarleton State, Avant is teaching floral design, survey of agriculture, equine science, and small animal management.

Wingspan sat down with Avant to find out more about herself, and about how she has adjusted to teaching here on campus.

Wingspan: What did you major in in college?

Avant: “I majored in both Animal Science and Agriculture Science in my undergrad, and agriculture consumer natural resources for my masters.”

Wingspan: How long have you been teaching for?

Avant: “This is my third year teaching.”

Wingspan: What is your favorite part about teaching?

Avant: “My favorite part about teaching is just making connections with the students, and figuring out what they like to learn about to make class more fun for them.”

Wingspan: What made you decide to teach here?

Avant: “Just the culture, the administration here is super supportive and nice, and just the spirit. The hallways look like a Disney movie, and it’s honestly just fantastic.”

Wingspan: Why did you choose to teach agriculture classes?

Avant: “I loved ag when I was in high school, I started showing livestock when I was in sixth grade. I was heavily involved with my FFA chapter when I was in school, and continued to support FFA chapters in the industry throughout college, and I just knew that it was the perfect fit for me.”

Wingspan: What is the most challenging thing about teaching, and specifically teaching agriculture classes?

Avant: “The most challenging thing about teaching is probably the paperwork that we have to do. No one likes paperwork, and we don’t get into teaching to do that. We get into teaching to work with the kids. For teaching ag there is so much more that we do than just the classroom. I know last year I coached ten teams throughout one school year, and I co-managed our swine team for the entire school district, so there is a lot of additional responsibilities.”

Wingspan: How have you adjusted to teaching at a new school?

Avant: “Slowly, it’s very different. I came from a pretty rural community where I was teaching, and the people are different, the processes are different, but I really like it so far.”

Wingspan: What are you most looking forward to for this school year?

Avant: “Just getting kids excited about joining FFA and participating in ag, and seeing what they can accomplish here.”

Wingspan: What would you like to accomplish this year?

Avant: “This year I just want to increase the amount of students we have participating in FFA, and taking agriculture classes. My goal is to have kids at state contests next year, that was something I was able to accomplish by my second year in my old school district and I really hope I can do that here as well.”

Wingspan: What inspired you to become a teacher?

Avant: “Probably my ag. teachers, they were great. I probably spent more time with them than I did my own family throughout high school, and I still talk to them on a weekly basis.”

Wingspan: What is a piece of advice you wish you could tell your younger self?

Avant: “Don’t be so strong headed. I’m still a very stubborn person, and I like things a certain way. But just going with the flow is a very crucial skill that you need to develop as soon as you can, because nothing is going to be the end of the world.”

Wingspan: What do you like to do in your free time?

Avant: “I would like to have free time, that would be fun. But in the little bit of time I do get, I just like to hang out with my husband. We like to cook, do crafts, and just binge TV shows.”

Kyle+Parks

Kyle Parks

When he was first on campus, he was a student. But now, after graduating from Harvard, and playing professional soccer in Europe, Kyle Parks is an Algebra 2 teacher, and the boys’ assistant soccer coach. Wingspan caught up with Parks recently to find out what it’s like for him to be a teacher at the same school he graduated from. 

Wingspan: Was math your favorite subject in school, or was it something else?

Parks: “Yeah, probably math. I like science a lot too, all the sciences, but probably math.”

Wingspan: Did you always intend to be a teacher? 

Parks: “Maybe not this early, but somewhat. I thought about it a lot later in life. I did some teaching in college, then the opportunity came up and here I am at 25-years-old being a teacher.”

Wingspan: What made you want to become a teacher?

Parks: “I mean I enjoy math a lot, I enjoy teaching other people. I like helping people learn new information. Having that eureka moment and getting to the next level where it all clicks, that’s a great moment to have and in math it’s kinda hard to build up to that with some people so I enjoy spreading that.”

Wingspan: Do you feel any obligation towards the students that you teach?

Parks: “I feel an obligation of being here, being focused. Letting them know that I want them to succeed as much as they want to succeed. Really it’s being here, being genuine and working hard for them. That’s my only obligation.”

Wingspan: Do you enjoy your job?

Parks: “I enjoy doing math and coaching soccer and I get to get paid for that now so that’s a bonus.”

Wingspan: What sports did you play in high school?

Parks: “Soccer, football and I wish I could’ve played basketball but that’s in soccer season so just soccer and football.”

Wingspan: What made you choose soccer over football?

Parks: “I mean I love them both. In soccer I was probably better at and had a better future in, it helped me get into college. I love football and everything, but I didn’t have the same skill level. Both are great.” 

Wingspan: Why and when did you fall in love with soccer?

Parks: “I’ve played since maybe I was 4 or 5. I had an older brother who was 6 years older so he was already playing soccer by then, my whole family does. So my whole life, maybe when I was 3 or 4.”

Wingspan: What was Harvard like?

Parks: “Harvard was great. Not too challenging. They don’t want you to fail out, of course. What I remember is after I left all the people there, all the other students, all the teachers and staff are the most incredible, high achieving people. They work really hard and know what they are doing.You’re just surrounded by some of the smartest and open minded people in the world.”

Wingspan: What challenges did you face as a student athlete at Harvard?

Parks: “Good question! It was difficult of course as all colleges are but it was really about balancing my schedule. Soccer was very demanding, it was probably on average three hours a day so I had to have a really rigorous schedule. Going to soccer practice, I was leaving at around 1:00 and getting back around 4:30 or 5:00. So I knew I had to get my work done either in the evening or before that, had to have all my classes in the morning. The people around you help you a lot. Having a really good structure and filling up your schedule is a good thing. Sometimes when you have too much time on your hands you don’t get anything done.”

Wingspan: What was your soccer career like after high school?

Parks: “I went to Harvard, played there for four seasons. I didn’t actually get in a game the first 2 years because it was very difficult. There were two other goalkeepers, they’re older, they were seniors. My third year I played every game and we were amazing. I won the team award for most improved player, it was really great. My senior year we dropped off, didn’t win many games but I was voted the MVP of my team, I was maybe top 5 in the nation for saves per game, I was racking up the numbers. I graduated a semester early, went straight to Portugal. I was there for about a year and a half playing second division, working hard trying to make it. I was actually in Spain for like 6 months too, went around the U.S. after that and now I’m here.”

Wingspan: When did you realize that you were good at soccer and had the potential to take it far?

Parks:”It’s hard to say. I always played my whole life, played a lot of nights. I put a lot of time into it so maybe that helped me get better. Early in high school I decided I really wanted to play soccer in college, maybe after that if I could and I kind of lucked into getting a great college offer for it and it turned out to be one of the best colleges it possibly could so it was amazing that that worked out.”

Wingspan: How was Portugal?

Parks: “It was good, a really good experience. I think while I was there at the time I took it for granted a little bit. It was really difficult because I studied Spanish here. I studied Spanish in college but Portuguese, which was pretty similar I thought, but it’s a whole different language you know. I could read it really well and understand a little bit but it was very hard to understand. It was a big change but getting to live in Europe, getting to live abroad, getting paid a bit while doing it. It was a great experience.

Wingspan: What are the scarves hanging on the wall in your classroom for?

Parks: “Each of those are like a good conversation starter maybe. They are all team’s that I love or support or have family members on. Harvard one of course, that’s my team that’s on top of course. U.S. National team, of course you’ve got root for the U.S. My brother has made a few appearances for them. Liverpool, that’s an English team and is my favorite team, probably. Benfica, that’s the biggest Portuguese team my brother played for them for three years. And last is F.C. Dallas.”

Wingspan: If you could choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

Parks: “Maybe I’ll say I’m interested, I want to learn about new things.”

After+his+college+academic+and+wrestling+career%2C+Arman+Mansouri+is+now+head+assistant+coach+of+the+wrestling+team+and+teaches+Leadworthy%2C+a+leadership+development+class+at+the+school.+

After his college academic and wrestling career, Arman Mansouri is now head assistant coach of the wrestling team and teaches Leadworthy, a leadership development class at the school.

Arman Mansouri

After his college academic and wrestling career, Arman Mansouri is now head assistant coach of the wrestling team and teaches Leadworthy, a leadership development class at the school. Wrestling at Lyon College and practicing jiu jitsu, Mansouri is coming to campus with a fresh set of eyes in hopes to further benefit the wrestling team. 

Wingspan: Is this your first coaching or teaching experience?

Mansouri: “I taught biology and environmental science at New Waverly High School. I was a volunteer assistant. There was 300 kids at the school so there wasn’t an official assistant coaching position.”

Wingspan: How long have you been wrestling for? What college and high school did you wrestle for?

Mansouri: “I started my freshman year of high school, wrestled all through high school, and then I wrestled five years in college. I went to high school at Wylie High, and then I went to college at Lyon College in Batesville, AR.”

Wingspan: What weight class did you wrestle in college?

Mansouri: “I wrestled high school 145. College I grew a lot so I went 157 for one year, 165 for two, and 174 my last year. I was 195 my senior year and had to cut to 174.”

Wingspan: What were your motivations during the season as a college or high school athlete?

Mansouri: “What got me through it was knowing that I had to put in time to be successful. It’s a choice. If I didn’t want to put in time I would’ve sucked and if I wanted to put in time then I would have been successful. So I chose that I wanted to be successful.”

Wingspan: Do you still actively compete in wrestling? Who do you wrestle for?

Mansouri: “I compete in jiu jitsu. When you sign up for a tournament it is for a team. It would be Apex and Rockwall. It is an individual sport when you go out there.”

Wingspan: In your wrestling career, what are two achievements you are most proud of?

Mansouri: “Academic All-Conference and I was a match away from being in a national tournament my senior year in college. Lost in overtime in the semi’s.”

Wingspan: What is a general overview of your responsibilities as a head assistant coach?

Mansouri: “Coach Bridwell is in charge of making the schedule and stuff like that, I’ll do things like order buses. Recently he’s been having me run practices as far as technique, working on set ups, and stuff like that.”

Wingspan: How do you feel coaching at New Waverly High School prepared you for coaching the Redhawks? 

Mansouri: “It was a first time coaching an actual high school setting. I’ve coached youth wrestling. I’d come back in the summers at this club down in Rockwall, Apex. I actually ran the entire club one summer because the owner, who had wrestled with me in college, had torn his ACL. So that helped me a lot as far as the technique side and teaching actual wrestling. What helped me last year was just seeing what it was like from a high school aspect. Dealing with the UIL, scheduling, duals, things like that.”

Wingspan: How would you say your coaching style differs from head wrestling coach Cody Bridwell and how do you think these differences would benefit the team?

Mansouri: “I feel like stuff he shows is a lot more practical for bigger guys probably. And he does show things that are really good for light guys but there are just some things that I may physically be able to do right now. And also I think the biggest thing is, he was telling me too, he has a hard time showing things on some of the kids because he’s so much bigger than them. I haven’t really seen much of what he teaches. A lot of the stuff he shows are pretty much in line with what I think. So philosophy wise I think we match up pretty well.”

Wingspan: What are you most excited for about this upcoming season?

Mansouri: “Just wrestling. Getting ready to get in there. And last year was super weird with just duals. So I guess if you ask me what I’m most excited about for, tournaments. It’s most fun for I think the wrestlers and for the managers even.”

Wingspan: What are any goals you have for the wrestling team?

Mansouri: “I think as a team we should definitely improve upon what we had last year. So yeah, goals would be having a state qualifier and placer this year on both sides. Not just one qualifier. I think multiple qualifiers. I can think off the top of my head I think there were like four guys who can make it to state and maybe two or three girls.”

Wingspan: What is something you feel could have benefited from your coaches during your wrestling career?

Mansouri: “I would say the big thing that most coaches don’t even talk about is just confidence. It’s about making sure they’ve got their head right, they’re confident in what they can do, they have an idea of what happens so they don’t get flustered. Because with confidence it can make a great wrestler just useless.”

Symone+Jackson+is+the+newest+art+teacher+and+assistant+coach+on+campus.

Symone Jackson is the newest art teacher and assistant coach on campus.

Symone Jackon

Attending Central Baptist College, Symone Jackson is the newest art teacher and assistant coach on campus. Recently, Wingspan sat down with Jackson to talk her time on campus and what it’s like to balance teaching and coaching.

Wingspan: What is your favorite part about coaching on campus?

Jackson: “I think being around older kids. Having different levels and age groups always makes it interesting.”

Wingspan: What inspired you to become a coach?

Jackson: “My kindergarten teacher. She actually inspired me to be a teacher and then my 9th grade coach inspired me to be a coach because of how much he helped me and um, taught me leadership and how to be a leader.”

Wingspan: What sports did you play when you were younger?

Jackson: “I played everything. I played soccer, I did basketball, volleyball, track. I think that’s it. That’s pretty much it.”

Wingspan: What kind of challenges have you been faced with during these COVID-19 times?

Jackson: “I am a very interactive person and I like to be close to people, and like, I like to demonstrate and fix people and touch people, and with COVID-19 we have to kinda like stay back.  You’re not as personable and so that has been a challenge for me.”

Wingspan: When you were younger did you always want to teach or coach, if not then what did you want to be?

Jackson: “When I was younger I wanted to be a therapist for kids. I guess I still wanted to be with kids but not as like a teacher.” 

 Wingspan: What was your favorite subject when you were in high school?

Jackson: “Oh I have two, I would say athletics or PE and art.”

Wingspan: What is your strongest belief when it comes to coaching and why?

Jackson:  “I always want, for like my athletes, to give me 110 in everything they do and be passionate about what they are doing. I feel like you only get four years in high school to actually do a sport and you wanna make sure you use all of that time. Like you don’t want one practice or one year to be like I wasted this year. Give everything you got, learn, and like find things you can use in that sport  outside of life, you know, like leadership, time. Just being with different people also helps you.”

Wingspan: How do you like to handle challenges or adversity with students?

Jackson:   “A lot of times I try to build relationships before and like get to know them and then take them off to the side or like out in the hallway to be like ‘Hey what’s going on? I’ve seen you change’ or things like that.  I am always trying to get to know yall.”

Wingspan: How long have you been coaching?

Jackson: “I have been coaching for six years like as middle school and high school but I actually started when I was 19. I don’t know how long that is though, like years wise, I would have to count back. So about 10.”

Wingspan: How do you like to adapt practice the day after a game?

Jackson: “Where we struggle at the most. A lot of times our struggle come from little things that we can fix, so I try to make drills that are working on that but also other things that we can work on in the game, if that makes sense. Like talking; every drill we can talk on but maybe we aren’t good at serving or serve receive, that’s the things we need to put together.”

Wingspan: If you could go back in time to talk to your 9th grade self what advice would you give?

Jackson: “Not, to not be scared to lead even when you’re young. Don’t be afraid to be yourself because you’re scared, cause you’re the fish, but be true to you. Lead without, like, caring what other people think.” 

Wingspan: What is some of your favorite hobbies? 

Jackson: “I like to read, I like to paint, I like to hang out with my friends, work out, run  and be with my family.”

Wingspan: What kind of changes that have been caused by covid would you like to see continued, even after these times?

Jackson: “I like the use of technology more, I know that sounds weird, but like as a teacher having to print out paper all of the time, I didn’t really care for that. We have chromebooks and things like that and um, yeah that’s it I think.” 

Wingspan: How do you motivate your players and team members when the game isn’t going as planned?

Jackson: “I try to lighten the moment, like lighten the mood up, not be so serious because they already know they’re messing up. I try to be more goofy, I know that makes no sense but just for them to relax.”

Graduating+for+Austin+College%2C+Carly+Myers+now+finds+herself+teaching+social+studies+classes.+

Graduating for Austin College, Carly Myers now finds herself teaching social studies classes.

Carly Myers

This year, the campus has welcomed more than a dozen new teachers, among them is Carly Myers. Graduating for Austin College, she now finds herself teaching social studies classes. Myers transferred here from Frisco ISD’s Griffin Middle School on the west side of Frisco. Recently, Wingspan sat down with Myers to talk about her experience so far on campus and how the first few weeks have been.

Wingspan: How long have you been teaching?

Myers: “This is my third year.”

Wingspan: What’s different about teaching middle schoolers and high schoolers

Myers: “Definitely the types of activities we do are very different, I think a lot of structures that you have in class are very different. I like to be able to offer my high schoolers a lot more independence and freedom versus with middle school you can’t always do that.”

Wingspan: What made you choose this campus?

Myers: “So Stacey Whaling [Associate Principal] and Jeff Crowe [social studies department lead] reached out to me during our little snow-vid storm and I was just really impressed with the culture that they talked about that was here at Liberty. That was something that was really important to me, to make sure I was at a campus with a really positive culture. They just really drew me in and it was nice being able to see who they were and kind of a glimpse of what the campus would be like. Whaling was super welcoming the entire time, brought on a tour, I got to have a pick on what courses I got to teach, so it definitely helped me feel more comfortable about the transition.”

Wingspan: Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

Myers: “Actually no, so I was a part of a ballet company when I was growing up and I ended up getting injured my senior year of high school and so I was kinda scrambling for a last minute decision on whether I was going to college or not. I was part of a class at my high school that allowed us to go into a classroom each week and teach and so it was just kind of something I fell into and I really enjoyed it. So when dancing after high school didn’t pan out, it was something I fell into.”

Wingspan: If you didn’t sustain the injury you had in high school, would you have continued dancing?

Myers: “Most likely, yes.”

Wingspan: How has your experience on campus been so far?

Myers: “It’s been phenomenal, I’ve really enjoyed all my kids, I’ve really enjoyed my department. Jeff has been a phenomenal instructional coach so far, no complaints here!”

Wingspan: What’s your favorite part about teaching and why?

Myers: “Providing a lot of tangible experience for my students, Just kinda having students excited about learning and seeing how they can apply their information into what would be an everyday life scenario is good.”

Wingspan: What is difficult about teaching?

Myers: “Just like the planning, staying on top of the work, trying to come up with things that are creative I think is difficult. But I have such a passion for it, so it’s not something that’s ever boring to want to spend this amount of time on. I guess it’s more time consuming than difficult I would say.”

Wingspan: While you were in school, has social studies always been your favorite subject?

Myers: “Yes, not necessarily always history, I think there are certain parts of history I liked more than others. I’ve always been interested in public policy and looking more at how that’s impacting us,hint why it was such a pool for me to want to be able to  teach government, like that aspect of our social studies curriculum.”

Wingspan: Is there any part of government that you like teaching the most or are most interested in?

Myers: “Definitely supreme court cases and public policy,  just public policy in general is one of my personal interests. Seeing how, for example, school districts in force policies that are passed down from TEA, our school boards, and the actual implementation of those practices, has always been something I’ve been interested in.”

Wingspan: What do you like to do in your free time?

Myers: “I really like to eat ice cream, it’s my thing, I just have a huge sweet tooth in general, I’m always out trying new ice creams. I have a sweet little mini goldendoodle, his name is Ralph, me and Ralph hangout a lot. I recently got into puzzling, cooking, I do a lot of cooking and baking in my free time as well. I’m trying to read more, it’s a little bit difficult sometimes and of course watching a good Netflix show.”

Wingspan: What is your goal for your classes this year?

Myers: “I want all my students to know everyday when they come in that they matter and how important they are to me. My room is always a home for them and being able to be that resource and that person for them. I mostly teach seniors and a lot of y’all are in this transitional period where you’re trying to figure out who you are, where you’re going, and what’s happening with your life, I want to be a part of that and these weird transitional times. More than anything, I just want my students to know that they really matter to me and I hear them, I see them, and I want to be here for them as well.”

Wingspan: How has COVID-19  affected your teaching experience?

Myers: “So my first year teaching was during the pandemic, so we just came back after spring break. They always say your first year teaching is the worst and it’s really difficult. The initial portion of the lockdown was more time for me to breathe and relax and be able to regroup. It really was not a negative experience, I feel like really more into last school year and now with this delta variant, it’s kind of the first time I’ve experienced the anxiety and worry of teaching during a pandemic, with the uncertainty of what’s happening and things like that.”

Michael+Kouznetsov

Michael Kouznetsov

There are several new faces in the social studies department for the 2021-2022 school year. Among those is Michael Kouznetsov who recently moved to the Frisco area from Houston, where he studied at the University of Houston, earning a major in History and a minor in Education. Here on campus he’s teaching AP Human Geography and U.S. History.

Wingspan: What are some favorite free time activities for you?

Kouznetsov: “In my free time, I guess everyone watches tv and movies so I do a lot of that. Though, I like to go running in the morning and whenever I have a lot of free time, like during the summer, I like to be in nature and go to the national parks out west. Especially out in Colorado and Utah, just being outside is a great experience.”

Wingspan: Do you have any previous experience in teaching?

Kouznetsov: “I was a student teacher the year before I graduated for two semesters. And then I have a year and half of teaching since then. To what extent that counts, given that it was mainly online, is open, but officially, about a year and a half experience.”

Wingspan: Do you have a favorite thing about the school or Frisco ISD so far?

Kouznetsov: “One favorite thing, I’d just say the general positive atmosphere, at least compared to where I was teaching before. I mean it’s just the COVID situation, but it always felt like everyone was down all the time. They would just show up and go in the room, do their thing and leave. Whereas here, the teachers like to talk to each other, we’ll have these games that we’ll play at our staff meetings, as well as the students, just an all around positive atmosphere.”

Wingspan: Was there a main reason why you moved from Houston to Frisco?

Kouznetsov: “Well, I lived in Houston my whole life and after I graduated, I initially planned to move right then, but then as that semester was coming to an end, Because I graduated in December, I planned to work one semester in the Spring and then move, but then the pandemic started, so I had to just wait it out in Houston. Once I did that, it was like now or never and I wanted to relocate in the Dallas area. I knew Frisco, along with other neighboring districts, but Frisco does have a great reputation for schools and I figured if I could teach up there, that would be a dream job, and I would know that I made it. So, I got hired and I’m here now.”

Wingspan: Is there a major difference between Liberty and the schools you taught before?

Kouznetsov: “Yes. Big difference. Where I taught before, it was an inner-city school and had some problems that were typical for those schools. Students there compared to here were a lot less inclined to be engaged in the class and I had to be a good salesman of just trying to get them to take an interest in things. Whereas, I feel like students here, there are students who are more interested in the topics than others, but for the most part, I don’t have to try to convince them that they need to pay attention, study, and do what they need to do because they’re already on board with that. So I don’t need to worry about that. And like I said before, just a way more positive atmosphere, teachers and students included, and that they’re happy to be here and be productive while here.”

Wingspan: You said you taught online for a little, so how does it feel to actually be in a classroom and interacting with students and teachers?

Kouznetsov: “It’s definitely a lot easier to gauge an audience and see if students aren’t understanding something, I can explain it a different way. While online, I felt like we were all anonymous and if students weren’t understanding the topic, I won’t find out until I get the grade from the assignment. In the classroom, I can be a lot more proactive in my teaching and addressing when there are misunderstandings. As well as the daily interactions with other people that human beings need to have to be happy.

Wingspan: You currently teach two different subjects at two different levels, is there any difficulty that comes with that?

Kouznetsov: “At first, I was pretty nervous because it was two different lessons I had to plan every day, but they gave me plenty of time and the team here is very excellent. They already knew what to do, they were happy to help me, and gave me some resources to make things my own to do my very best. Because before where I was, I was just planning and planning as much as I could after school hours just to get things ready for the next day. I was on my own most of the time and here, it’s just a great team and everyone is pulling their weight, helping the new people out. So I was nervous at first but it’s totally doable and fine now.”

Wingspan: How do you describe the way you teach?

Kouznetsov: “I guess I’m still trying to figure that out myself. I guess I try to keep it as student centered as possible. Where there isn’t much of me talking and students listening, but I try to facilitate a conversation so that students are actively doing something. We do have to take notes in a social studies class, but I try not to be a heavy talker. I ask questions, trying to get more people involved.”

Wingspan: Do you have a main goal for the end of the year, maybe for your teaching or more of a personal goal?

Kouznetsov: “So, I set my goal for the first semester is to get everyone’s name memorized because I’m really bad about that. With my US History classes’, they’re smaller than my AP classes so I feel like I’m almost on the verge of having every name memorized. For my AP classes, I say I know like half of them at this point. And it’s not that I forget them as a person, just the name to associate with is a struggle. Especially hard to memorize names when I can’t see half of the person’s face.”

Wingspan: Finally, is there a certain way you want your students to remember you as they leave your classroom?

Kouznetsov: “My main goal as a social studies teacher is to give students the skills and ability to understand, contextualize, and constructively engage with the world. I hope that when they leave my classroom, that if they remember me in any way, that I helped them understand the world better, understand why it got this way and how. Give them ideas and tools for how they can affect change in the world. Not just knowing about it and understanding it, but how they can leave the room and do something about it and make a positive difference.”

This+is+new+teacher+Kristen+Tatum%2C+and+she+is+a+first-year+teacher+teaching+Advanced+Geometry+and+AP+Statistics.

Shreya Jagan

This is new teacher Kristen Tatum, and she is a first-year teacher teaching Advanced Geometry and AP Statistics.

Kristen Tatum

After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in Math, Kristen Tatum is the newest staff member in the math department. She is a first year teacher teaching Advanced Geometry and AP Statistics across all grade levels. Wingspan sat down with Tatum to learn more about her.

Wingspan: What made you want to become a math teacher?

Tatum: “I think it is really important to invest in students. I want to help students build their character and be able to accomplish what they want in their lives. I really like encouraging people, so that’s why I wanted to become a teacher. And then math specifically because I really like math. I think it is interesting and underrated, especially statistics, that’s my favourite subject. It’s very creative and applicable to the real world, which we have definitely seen this year as we have seen so many statistics with the coronavirus happening, and talking about the studies behind the vaccine. All those things are really statistics related, so it’s very applicable.”

Wingspan: What is the most rewarding part of teaching?

Tatum: “I think relationships that I build with my students. I really like it when they are successful in my class. I like seeing their sports events and getting to cheer them on.”

Wingspan: What does an ideal school day look like for you?

Tatum: “I usually get here about 7:15 or 7:30 and check my emails, and make a plan for the day. I usually make a powerpoint so that I can keep myself on track and keep the class on track during class. During the day, I have one conference period where I plan with my team and we do things like make tests, make quizzes, talk about how we can support students and where we’re seeing students struggle. And then, the rest of the day, I teach 3 classes everyday and ideally for those classes, we have some beginning activity or sometime we can talk to each other and not just be stuck on doing equation after equation to make it more interesting. And then after the school day, I usually stick around until 5:30 to grade and to make preparations for the next day.”

Wingspan: Why did you want to teach at Frisco ISD ?

Tatum: “I’ve heard that Frisco has a great reputation. I am also from the Forth Worth area and so I wanted to come back up and teach around the DFW area somewhere.”

Wingspan: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Tatum: “I would say that it could be challenging to support each student and their individual needs, especially as I’m getting to know everybody and figuring out what everybody needs. Instead of just making one lesson for everybody, I’ve been trying to individualize a little bit more. I think it’s super important but it’s challenging.”

Wingspan:  What is your biggest pet peeve as a teacher?

Tatum: “I have to say cell phones. Cell phones are. I have the students put them in buckets and caddies and then I give them back at the end of the day.”

Wingspan: What is your favourite thing about our campus?

Tatum: “I love the people here. Everybody is very friendly. I love saying good morning to people when I walk down the hallway, and I’m really enjoying getting to know the staff and the students.”

Wingspan: What are you most excited for this year?

Tatum: “I am excited for projects and hands-on activities. Like in geometry, I hope to do some projects where we can create things and in statistics, especially in the second semester, we are going to have more labs which will be really fun.”

Wingspan: What do you like to do for fun?

Tatum: “That’s an easy question. I like to bake, especially cookies. I love to garden, go for walks, and read books. Those are my top ones.”

Wingspan: What is a word of advice you would give your students?

Tatum: “I would say have patience with yourself. There is a lot going on in high school and a lot of challenging classes and after school activities and maybe even work. So, somewhere in there, in one of your spaces in life, you will make mistakes and you are gonna have to give yourself patience. Realize it is okay to give yourself time to grow and just have some grace for yourself and not beat up yourself about it but just have that growth mindset of ‘Hey, it’s okay. I’ve seen what just happened and I’ll do it differently next time. It’s okay.’”

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