New Faces in the Halls

Molly Kaplow, Staff Reporter

This year, our school welcomed a plethora of new staff members. A variety of different positions were filled, including counseling and teaching jobs. As our school enters the second quarter, the new faculty members have started to become more acquainted with our school.

One of the newest additions to the counseling staff, Alexis Andre, has had a career in education since graduating college. After experimenting with different classroom jobs, Andre found counseling to be the best fit for her. 

“I’ve worked in first grade as a teacher’s aide and I worked at an after school program as a teacher for younger kids. Most of my experience was with younger kids. Then I went through college and grad school was like, ‘I like the older kids better,’” Andre said. 

While working directly with teachers was enjoyable for Andre, the connections she has made with students through counseling have proven to be more fulfilling. 

“I just really like talking with people. It sounds really simple, but I really love hearing about how you are the person that you are today. A lot of times just listening to someone and giving them the space to express how they really feel is valuable,” Andre said. 

For some of the new teachers, education has not always been a passion of theirs. 

“It’s been a roundabout journey to me actually being a teacher. I graduated from Vanderbilt in 2016 with an electrical engineering degree…. There’s a very big gap between what you do as a professional engineer and what you do as an engineering student. It turned out I was much better at the things you do as an engineering student which includes doing a lot of math, so that’s sort of how we got here,” algebra and geometry teacher Ned Lauber said. 

Lauber eventually stumbled upon teaching after engaging in a job search that allowed him to explore various careers. 

“I was thinking about engineering grad school…. In summer of 2018, I decided to go back to Nashville and worked for a summer program for gifted youth…. Through doing that, I realized I actually really enjoyed working with high schoolers,” Lauber said. 

English teacher Aidan Leddy enrolled in college hoping to eventually join the military. However, he found himself in a different career path that was able to meet the same criteria he was looking for. 

“I originally went to college on a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship, which is in the military, but I have a heart condition, so I did not obtain a medical waiver like I thought I would. I was looking for other ways to work in a role that I could contribute in a way that I thought was important…. My first two years were through Teach for America, which is a non-profit program that puts college graduates into high-needs schools. I’ve just stuck with [teaching] since then,” Leddy said.

Leddy has worked as an English teacher for seven years, though this is his first year in Arlington after having worked in Sussex County, Delaware at Indian River High School. His main focus as an English teacher is to help his students expand their writing abilities. 

“There’s just so much you can do with English and obviously when it comes down to nuts and bolts you’re really looking at how we can make strong writers out of high school students. To me that’s the most important part…. As far as students that aren’t there and have to get there, it’s important for kids to be able to communicate more readily and eloquently,” Leddy said. 

Due to the pandemic, both the sophomore and freshman classes are experiencing their first full year in the building. This has provided a learning opportunity for the new students and teachers to navigate together. 

“It feels good to be able to teach normally again. I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat it — last year was a lot easier. I think that is because of my age. My class was ready to go online…. For some of the older teachers, when we went remote, there was a total jolt to the system…. I was lucky in that I was able to cope with it really quickly,” Leddy said. 

The transition from virtual to in-person school has altered the way teachers approach the curriculum.

“[The students] ended up learning no new material, which is now coming up because I teach algebra two. That fourth quarter of algebra one was a bunch of stuff that we have to teach now in algebra two, because they didn’t get to it. It’s the ripple effect,” Lauber said. 

For Andre, walking into the role of a counselor after the virtual school year has been a learning experience.

“In some ways it’s been more challenging just because I wasn’t here last year to see what all the students went through and what virtual school was like. It’s taken me a bit of time to catch up to learn how the virtual experience was. It’s also been easy in a way. I’m starting fresh now,” Andre said.

Because of the jarring transition, Lauber has made it a point to form a connection with his students as they work together to face the struggles this year has inevitably brought.

“I’m trying to get involved. I sponsor the chess club. I went to a band competition. I went to a football game and I’m going to try to go to more sports things and arts things. If there’s a spring musical I definitely will check that out,” Lauber said. 

The multitude of opportunities our school has to offer drew some of the new staff to apply here. This is accompanied by the outstanding reputation of our county. 

“I had heard that [Arlington] was particularly education-motivated. They really value education here, the parents, the students, the building, the staff and administration. I knew that Yorktown was a good school in Virginia,” Leddy said.

The support from staff and students is essential to making this first year as easy as possible for all of the new faces at our school. As the second quarter begins, the new faculty members are hopeful that it will prove as successful and welcoming as the first.