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

October 7, 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.

With+a+little+over+a+month+away+from+UIL+sectionals%2C+Orchestra+students+are+attending+practice+before+and+after+school+to+rehearse+for+the+upcoming+music+performance.+Orchestra+Director+Madison+Waggerman+believes+the+practice+time+will+strengthen+her+students+as+musicians.+

Aarya Oswal

With a little over a month away from UIL sectionals, Orchestra students are attending practice before and after school to rehearse for the upcoming music performance. Orchestra Director Madison Waggerman believes the practice time will strengthen her students as musicians.

Madison Waggerman

Madison Waggerman, a graduate from Oklahoma State University, is in her 5th year of teaching and is the new assistant orchestra directoror, and is now working alongside her high school orchestra director, Jullie Blackstock. Waggerman originally wanted to become a dentist, but after getting into All-State band she decided to become an orchestra teacher.

Wingspan: What kind of student were you in high school?

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Mrs. B is amazing and she was my high school orchestra director, so it just feels like coming home,”

— assistant orchestra director Madison Waggerman

Waggerman: “I definitely was geeky because I was a musician, but I was also a procrastinator but I cared about being studious, so I got things done eventually. But yeah, I was definitely a little geeky.”

Wingspan: What made you decide to be an orchestra teacher?

Waggerman: “I originally thought I was going to become a dentist, so it wasn’t until my senior year in high school when I actually made All-State band that I decided, hey, this will be fun to do. And lots of people told me that they thought it was a career that I should pursue. And I was like, hmmm, okay, maybe but I really was set to go to University of Minnesota to major in math and study Dentistry. It was a last-minute thing and like in February I was like, oh, music, let’s do it.”

Wingspan: Was the transition from your previous job to your current job a difficult one?

Waggerman: “It was a fabulous transition because Mrs. B is amazing and she was my high school orchestra director, so it just feels like coming home.”

Wingspan: So, is that what made you decide to come to campus?

Waggerman: “Absolutely!”

Wingspan: What is it like working with your high school orchestra teacher?

Waggerman: “Amazing. The level of care and love that she shares with everybody is incredible, so even as a colleague I get to experience that too.”

Wingspan: What would you like to accomplish this year?

Waggerman: “Number one goal is making connections and relationships with students and then through that we will make and achieve musical excellence each day, but I don’t have like a, “Ooohh I want to play this hard piece,” I’m just here to make sure that it’s a welcoming environment for everybody.”

Wingspan: What hobbies or interests do you have outside of school?

Number one goal is making connections and relationships with students and then through that we will make and achieve musical excellence each day,”

— Madison Waggerman

Waggerman: “I love playing games and board games. I actually collect playing cards everywhere I travel, so I have like 30 plus decks of cards and then I love playing with my mom’s dog, Chip, and hanging out with family.”

Wingspan: If you could give a word of advice to your students, what would it be?

Waggerman: “Never give up on your dreams.”

Wingspan: If you could have any job besides being an orchestra director, what would you want to be?

Waggerman: “I don’t know. Like a personal assistant or something like where you’re just awesome at everything.”

After+getting+a+bachelors+degree+in+nursing+from+UT+Arlington%2C+working+in+the+cardiac+department+as+a+nurse+at+Texas+Health+Fort+Worth%2C+and+subbing+in+as+a+school+nurse+for+seven+years%2C+Lindsey+McDavid+is+the+new+school+nurse%2C+and+

Ana Toro

After getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing from UT Arlington, working in the cardiac department as a nurse at Texas Health Fort Worth, and subbing in as a school nurse for seven years, Lindsey McDavid is the new school nurse, and

Lindsey McDavid

After working in the cardiac department as a nurse at Texas Health Fort Worth and subbing in as a school nurse for seven years, Lindsey McDavid is the new school nurse on campus. Graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington, McDavid has two bachelor’s degrees, including one in nursing. Wingspan sat down with McDavid to learn more about her journey so far and what she wishes to accomplish this year.

Wingspan: What did you do before coming to campus?

McDavid: “I have been a substitute nurse for six years. And then I was a cardiac nurse at Texas Health Fort Worth for a couple years before that.”

Wingspan: What aspects of this campus drew you here?

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I have really always liked science so like how the body works and just learning more about it because it’s something I can always continue learning about,”

— school nurse Lindsey McDavid

McDavid: “I have subbed here a lot in the past for the previous nurse, when she was here, and I always really liked being here and the atmosphere and the kids.”

Wingspan: Why did you choose to become a school nurse? Have you always wanted to be one?

McDavid: “Not necessarily. When I started nursing, I wanted to be in cardiac for nursing like when I started and now I like it because I have kids so this schedule of the school so I can be off during summer breaks. So there’s like it’s kinda like a little urgent care clinic we have over here. We don’t really know what is coming in, and we don’t know what’s gonna happen next and it keeps it exciting.”

Wingspan: What do you enjoy about the medical field?

McDavid: “I have really always liked science so like how the body works and just learning more about it because it’s something I can always continue learning about.”

Wingspan: What difficulties do you face especially now with COVID-19?

McDavid: “COVID definitely takes up a lot of time, it’s not taking time necessarily from being with other kids because I’m still taking care of all the kids here, but I think it’s just that time what we have to do extra things because for COVID and just the extra precautions we have to take. I mean I feel like it’s a lot. I mean it’s great to wear a mask but sometimes it can be difficult to talk to people and even you know just assessing people, and so I just think higher risks and things like that with sickness.”

Wingspan: What’s your number one fear about your job?

McDavid: “Well I don’t really want to do anything wrong. So that would probably be my number one fear. You know we’re all human and people can make mistakes and when you’re a nurse that’s not what you want to do that’s not…there’s a lot less room for error with nursing, so probably that.”

Wingspan: What’s your favorite aspect about being a nurse?

McDavid: “Taking care of people.”

Get involved as early as you can. Because it really helped me getting me my first job because I was already working in a hospital and I just got hired right on so that was definitely that,”

Wingspan: So do you like taking care of students?

McDavid: “I do. I like pediatric younger nursing versus adults.”

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

McDavid: “Tennis. I play a lot of tennis. I used to be on six tennis teams, now I’m on three.”

Wingspan: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to any students looking for a career in the medical field?

McDavid: “Get involved as early as you can. Volunteer or come as you get older or even if you’re in college you can become a patient care technician or anything you can do to get you involved in a hospital or a doctor’s office or anything in that field early on. Because it really helped me getting me my first job because I was already working in a hospital and I just got hired right on so that was definitely that.”

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

Sarah Drake

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: 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.”

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,”

— social studies teacher Carly Myers

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.”

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.”

I was just really impressed with the culture that they talked about that was here at Liberty,”

— Myers

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.”

 

Growing+up+playing++soccer%2C+basketball%2C+volleyball%2C+and+track%2C%0ASymone+Jackson+is+the+newest+art+teacher+and+assistant+coach+on+campus.

Brianna Walsh

Growing up playing soccer, basketball, volleyball, and track, Symone Jackson is the newest art teacher and assistant coach on campus.

Symone Jackson

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 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.”

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Give everything you got, learn, and find things you can use in that sport outside of life, like leadership, time,”

— assistant basketball coach Symone Jackson

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: 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 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 y’all.”

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.”

I always want, for like my athletes, to give me 110 in everything they do and be passionate about what they are doing,”

— Jackson

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: 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.”

After+spending+her+first+year+of+teaching+virtually%2C+Haley+Brown%2C+in+her+first+year+of+teaching%2C+is+teaching+9th+grade+World+Geography+and+11th+grade+US+History.%0A

Nickola Rushing

After spending her first year of teaching virtually, Haley Brown, in her first year of teaching, is teaching 9th grade World Geography and 11th grade US History.

Haley Brown

After spending her first year of teaching virtually, Haley Brown is starting her first year at Liberty, teaching 9th grade World Geography and 11th grade US History. Brown has a dual degree in English and History from the University of North Texas.

Wingspan: Why did you want to become a teacher? 

Brown: “I wanted to become a teacher because school was always my favorite place in the world and my favorite parts of it I wasn’t allowed to do as a student, I was always envious of all of the office type work that goes into being a teacher, like I wanted to make the copies and prepare the tests and set out all the supplies and everything like that and then most of all I wanted to be able to talk about a subject I cared about all the time while also being a positive influence on others lives. So I wanted a job where I never had to feel like I stopped going to school but rather that I can make a change in the negative aspects that I saw when I was in school like feeling like certain teachers didn’t care or they were just too mean or that they didn’t care about me they only cared about how well I did or that they only saw me as a grade. And I wanted to make sure that nobody had those kinds of experiences.”

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I wanted to become a teacher because school was always my favorite place in the world and my favorite parts of it I wasn’t allowed to do as a student,”

— Social studies teacher Haley Brown

Wingspan: What have you found to be the easiest and hardest parts of teaching?

Brown: “The easiest part so far has been all of the boring stuff like setting up the lectures and deciding what I’m gonna teach every day, but the hardest part for me has been trying not to be too friendly all the time class does need a little bit of structure and organization and that’s where I struggle a little bit because I’m so excited to be back in person.”

Wingspan: How is it having your first year teaching at this school during the pandemic?

Brown: “It’s wonderful, it’s been so nice I feel like there’s definitely a little bit of a lag for everybody to kinda catch back up but there’s also a lot of excitement and a lot of positivity because everybody’s just so excited to be back around all of their friends and back in person.”

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

Brown: “During my free time I love to read, I love to read just like regular novels, I like a lot of fantasy and horror. They are my favorite genres, and I’m also a comic book collector, so in my free time I love to collect vintage comic books, especially  Spider-Man.”

Wingspan: Why do you like Spider-Man?

Brown: “Spiderman has been my favorite I wouldn’t say superhero but honestly just my favorite thing since I was little. I grew up loving him and my mom was very traditional and I had a princess room not a comic book room even though I love Spider-Man and so it wasn’t until my brother was born that any like comic book related stuff was in the house and i just hoarded all of it as much of it I could get out of his room. So when I became an adult of my own I think I went a little overboard because it was something that was excluded from me that I cared so much about. I never want to apologize for anything that I like and I don’t want anybody else to have to either so that’s why my Spider-Man room is so aggressive because I don’t think I should have to hide something that I care about.” 

Wingspan: What were you like in high school?

Brown: “I was quiet, I was a good student, I didn’t like to talk in class but I  would if I was called on I did all my work. I got mostly A’s and B’s and some C’s there. And then I was in theater so that was my outlet and that was always surprising to everybody because I was always so quiet but that was my favorite place in the whole world.”

I’m also a comic book collector, so in my free time I love to collect vintage comic books, especially  Spider-Man,”

— Social studies teacher Haley Brown

Wingspan: What do you enjoy most about your job?

Brown: “Seeing so many different people everyday and getting to have fun and the fact that it’s so many people that I would never meet other than that. And especially since I teach multiple grades there’s a chance that I might get to see kids a few years later and see how they’ve grown. It’s really exciting to me.”

Wingspan: Is this your first year teaching?

Brown: “This is the first full year, I taught eight months of last year all virtual at Wester Middle school in Frisco.”

Wingspan: Do you have any advice for your students?

Brown: “My advice for my students is to not give up. I think that it’s really easy for everyone to think that it’s just them struggling or it’s just them that thinks this is really hard coming back after two years for some of them of the pandemic and it’s not. So just not to give up and to just stay focused and stay positive  because we’re gonna figure it out together.”

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

Aden McClune

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 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.”

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I came from a pretty rural community where I was teaching, and the people are different, the processes are different,”

— agricultural science teacher Brittney Avant

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.”

My goal is to have kids at state contests next year,”

— Avant

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 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.”

 

Moving+to+Frisco+from+the+Houston+area%2C+new+social+studies+teacher+Michael+Kouznetsov+has+been+teaching+for+nearly+two+years.+

Vaughn Perez

Moving to Frisco from the Houston area, new social studies teacher Michael Kouznetsov has been teaching for nearly two years.

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.”

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,”

— social studies teacher Michael Kouznetsov

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: 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: 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.”

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, ”

— Kouznetsov

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 favorite 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.”

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I want to help students build their character and be able to accomplish what they want in their lives,”

— math teacher Kristen Tatum

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: 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 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 favorite 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.”

Realize it is okay to give yourself time to grow and just have some grace for yourself and not beat up yourself about,”

— Tatum

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.’”

The+campus+sees+new+staff+members+every+year.+However%2C+this+year%2C+there+were+more+than+usual.

Kaden Groom

The campus sees new staff members every year. However, this year, there were more than usual.

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.”

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I enjoy teaching other people. I like helping people learn new information,”

— assistant soccer coach Kyle Parks

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: 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.”

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,”

— Parks

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

Parks: “I went to Harvard, played there for four seasons. 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 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: 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.”

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.+

Charlotte Cleckler

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.”

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What got me through it was knowing that I had to put in time to be successful. It’s a choice,”

— assistant wrestling coach Arman Mansouri

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.”

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,”

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.”

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