Tag Archives: teachers

Teachers build on cheer bonds

Left to right: Mathis, Landsdowne, Craig

For two seasons, from 1999-2001, faculty members Genell Craig, Kristen Mathis, and Ian Lansdowne spent time together on the cheer team, where the three became good friends. Now, they have returned to teach together at the same high school from which they graduated.

Mathis and Lansdowne share a favorite memory from their cheer career: the night of the team sleepover in the gym.

“We practiced really late, sat around, watched movies, ran the halls, just having a great time,” Mathis said. “At some point through the night, we set off the school alarm because a couple of police officers showed up. All of us girls thought someone was breaking into the school to come get us, so we sent the guys out to handle it.”

Lansdowne also recalls that evening.

“All of a sudden this light comes from around the corner in the dark gym, and it was two policemen because the school alarm had gone off,” Lansdowne said. “No one knew what was going on, but all the girls pushed the guys at what they thought were intruders. We still laugh about it because they used [the] males as sacrificial lambs.”

Besides cheerleading, all three played another sport. Craig played basketball, Mathis played softball, and Lansdowne ran track and field.

“We were all really involved in athletics,” Mathis said. “So, most everything we did outside of cheerleading still involved sports games in some way.”

After high school, Mathis attended Radford University and majored in social science with secondary education.

“I never thought I would be teaching where I went to high school,” Mathis said. “Like most students in high school, I couldn’t wait to get out of Fauquier County and have new experiences.”

Lansdowne attended George Mason University where he ran track and field; he received his master’s degree in Education Leadership with a focus in administration from George Washington University. Lansdowne began teaching as an instructional assistant and then became a teacher. He and Craig are cousins, and have known each other for years.

“[We] have been best friends for a long time, so we talked and visited each other in [college],” Lansdowne said. “I would never [have] thought that I would teach with Ms. Craig. People think we are attached at the hip because they usually see us together. I wouldn’t [have] seen myself teaching with Mrs. Mathis, either, just because we were all so pumped to get out of here and move on.”

After graduating from FHS, Craig studied sociology, biology, and psychology before she became a psychiatric nurse one year after graduating from college. Craig was also an EMT and received her CNA and EMT license while attending FHS.

“Mr. Lansdowne had asked me if I was interested in doing a long-term substitute job last year, and it kind of just fell into my lap,” Craig said. “This year, I contracted and signed on as a full time teacher.”
The three love working with each other.

“It’s great. We still have that cheer bond,” Craig said. “I’ll go to Ms. Mathis room or Mr. Lansdowne’s room, and it seems like we’ll have moments when we’re back in it again.”
Mathis enjoys working with her cheer mates.

“It has always been a perk coming back to Fauquier to see all of the familiar faces, theirs included,” Mathis said. “We have a bond and experiences that will always unite us.”

Lansdowne said that teaching has strengthened the bond between them.

“We always speak to each other and are always laughing,” Lansdowne said. “Even when things around school get stressful or tough, we have someone else to talk to. We still have one another’s backs here at Fauquier.”

Cheering taught the three teachers valuable life skills.

“Our squad taught me that everyone is different and that it is important for people from different backgrounds to work together,” Lansdowne said. “We had guys that were wrestlers or football players along with a bunch of girls. We all had to work towards one purpose, and we had to learn how to communicate, which is something I still have to do to this day.”

~emma dixon, photography director


Batson witnesses history

Science teacher Alonso Batson had a front-row seat at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago. As the 13-year-old youth president of the local and state chapter of the NAACP in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Batson organized youth participation in the march.

“In Tulsa, we had separate but ‘equal’ – but it was never equal,” Batson said. “We had filthy bathrooms and fountains, and only had used books in school. It made us strive harder to do more.”

Batson’s primary responsibility was to raise money to pay for the buses from Tulsa to D.C. Local Jewish merchants sponsored three buses for the young people. In addition, each participant was given $50 of spending money. Batson described the scene when they arrived in D.C. as “breathtaking.”

“All we saw was people – it looked like one million people – of all races, sizes, colors, youths, and adults,” Batson said. “At that moment, America was one.”

Although Batson was present when Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, there were so many distractions that the impact of the speech didn’t sink in until later when he could consider the words. However, he was deeply moved by the singing of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Batson returned to Tulsa as an activist.

“The adults got some backbone from the youth movement,” Batson said. “We began sitting in at restaurants and amusements parks. The NAACP taught peaceful resistance. A group of us attended an all-white Baptist church, and I was pulled out of it when they called the police.”

Batson has attended every five year reunion of the historic march, but he did not attend the 50th anniversary because he felt his job teaching young people was even more important. He believes much progress has been made since the first march, but that the community still has a long way to go to achieve equality. Specifically, Batson cited unemployment in the black community, a vastly disproportionate percentage of black men in prison, and underrepresentation of blacks on college campuses as evidence of on-going racism.

“We can change this by reestablishing principles and values in the black community,” Batson said. “We have to do that ourselves. America is like a woven fabric of many colors that need to blend as one.”

~Emma Spector, staff reporter

Weight room beckons Bailey

After many years of coach Jim Pulchine’s care, the weight room is now under new management. Ryan Bailey stepped down from teaching keyboarding to oversee the weight room and direct sports teams in their conditioning.

“The two jobs are so different,” Bailey said. “I miss some things about the business department, but at the same time this is what I’m interested in.”

In his new capacity, Bailey emphasizes on safe and effective methods of operating the machines.

“Using proper technique while lifting will not only keep everyone safe but will build muscle mass helpful for preventing injuries on the field,” Bailey said. “My goal is to keep everyone safe in here and safe on the field. I understand the proper way to operate the equipment because I have been interested in it for a long time.”

Bailey coordinates the weight room scheduling for the teams and develops their work out plan. Female athletes go into the weight room to increase their endurance for games, while the football team works to build muscle needed to tackle.

“Many teams use the weight room in and out of season,” Bailey said. “I get in touch with the coaches from each team and form a fitness plan for each. Depending on their sport, how they lift varies.”

Prior to operating the weight room Bailey taught physical education and coached football as defensive coordinator. However, switching to operating the weight room full time has affected Bailey’s time with the football team. He cannot get out on the field until 5 p.m.

“He still comes and helps everyday, just not until later,” junior Briar Thomas said. “Not much has changed; we still work as hard, and he still coaches us well. The only real difference is that he can’t be on the field for home games.”

Many athletes currently benefit from Bailey’s expertise in the weight room.

“It helps that coach Bailey knows what he is doing,” sophomore Jack Liebel said. “I love going to the weight room because I get the best out of my experience from his help.”

~Kendall Scott, staff reporter

Coming Holmes: Former Falcon baseball star returns to alma mater as activities director

DSC_0153After serving as everything from star pitcher to Liberty golf coach to elementary school teacher, Mark Holmes landed his dream job as FHS activities director. Holmes applied for the position after Allen Creasy announced his retirement earlier this year.

“When the opportunity arose, it seemed like the perfect opportunity,” Holmes said. “It was my chance to come back home.”

In high school, Holmes played football, baseball, and basketball. He is a member of the Falcon Hall of Fame, after earning all-district honors as a pitcher. Holmes attended Ferrum Junior College and was a member of its nationally ranked baseball squad. He graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in education. He worked as an elementary school teacher in Fairfax County for a decade, prior to joining Liberty High School as a physical education teacher.

“I wanted to come back to Fauquier County and have my girls go through the school system,” Holmes said. “This is my home.”

At Liberty, Holmes was the head coach of the Region II champion varsity baseball squad, and in 2006, he was named Region II Co-Coach of the Year. Holmes has also coached freshman girls basketball, golf, and track and field.

“I love kids and I love sports; [coaching] was simply a way to work with both,” Holmes said.

In 2008, he took over the position at Liberty.

“When I started teaching, I knew I wanted to be athletic director somewhere down the road,” Holmes said. “It was the right time, when my daughters were a little older. I had the chance to see them more.”

Assistant activities director Robert Glascock has enjoyed the opportunity to work under his former teammate.

“We played football together in high school,” Glascock said. “It’s a great to have a local guy with ties to the school. He’s organized, and he wants to do the best for FHS.”

According to Principal Tripp Burton, Holmes’ prior experience and passion for the school were key factors in his hiring.

“His vision of what the athletic department should be, his knowledge of the school and his relationship with this community [contributed to the decision],” Burton said. “The committee found that impressive.”

Holmes’ primary focus will be making sure athletes perform in the classroom.

“Student athletes have always had high GPAs, and we want to continue that,” Holmes said. “They’re student athletes, and student comes first for the reason.”

~Abby Seitz, managing editor

School meets new principal

Clarence “Tripp” Burton, who will join the FHS community as principal on July 1, spoke to the faculty and staff for the first time on April 22. His short presentation emphasized the importance of tradition, accessibility, and relationship-building as the school enters its next transitional period.
“This is a high-achieving school with great students, great faculty, great community, and great tradition,” Burton said. “You feel it when you walk in. It means a lot to a lot of people; there’s a lot of graduates working in the town. I’m just honored and humbled to be selected for this position.”
According to Associate Superintendant for Instruction Sandra Mitchell, Burton was chosen for his leadership qualities and fresh perspective. However, Mitchell knew the appointment would be controversial since two FHS assistant principals, Kraig Kelican and Jim Raines, were also in the final round of interviews and were strongly supported by the school community.
“Mr. Burton is exceptional in leading projects and has a desire to build new relationships at FHS,” Mitchell said. “My heart breaks for those who are here, yet I do understand the decision.”
The announcement of Burton’s appointment resulted in a tense firestorm from students, teachers, and community members as people posted comments on Twitter in support of Kelican and Raines. Many faculty members felt that the surveys and interviews in which they expressed support for having an FHS assistant principal replace the retiring Roger Sites were ignored by the School Board office.
“I have an issue with presenting [the decision] as if we had a choice,” English teacher Lee Lorber said. “It’s part of our society to work hard and move up, and these two men have worked very hard to go forward in their careers. Because they are who they are, they will stay here and continue to do good work for the school, but it’s an insult.”
Spanish teacher Janice Hall expressed her frustration in a letter to the School Board that Kelican’s and Raines’ long careers at FHS appeared to be liabilities when they were considered for the position.
“I see the way [Mr. Raines and Mr. Kelican] work with students; they do it with such grace,” Hall said. “I wonder what [the School Board] think the message is to other people who work in the educational community. If the people you work for don’t recognize what it’s about, then you just kind of feel like a fool.”
While tensions have eased somewhat, some, like English teacher Robin Frost, remind colleagues to give Burton a chance.
“I’m keeping an open mind,” Frost said. “When he spoke at the faculty meeting, the thing that struck me most about him was that he acknowledged that there’s nothing to fix here. As long as he keeps that in mind when he’s making changes, I’m open.”
Frost believes that, in the past few years, accountability has become increasingly important to the school division, an emphasis that played a part in the decision to appoint Burton.
“Kettle Run seems to have gotten accountability under control through experimentation,” Frost said. “Hopefully, Mr. Burton has been on the trial and error side of things. He even said, will he make mistakes, but he’s willing to learn from them.”
Burton graduated from James Madison University with a degree in political science, and worked as a dean for Prince William and Loudon Counties before joining Kettle Run when it opened in 2008. He hopes to continue the student-teacher-administration dialogue built at Kettle Run as he joins the FHS community.
“I believe that our teachers and students feel comfortable coming to us and giving ideas,” Burton said. “I want people [at FHS] to feel comfortable coming to me with ideas. I’m talking about students, staff, parents, community members. If you have an idea or way to make our school better, I want to hear it because it doesn’t all come from the principal, and it shouldn’t.”
Building a network of trust also bolsters school safety, according to Burton.
“Part of keeping a school safe, too, is those relationships we have with kids,” Burton said. “[Students] are really the first line of defense because you guys tell us what’s going on. And I love preventing things more than I do reacting to things.”
Since the announcement, Principal Roger Sites, has worked closely with Burton to introduce him to the FHS environment.
“I’ve been meeting or talking with him almost daily to ensure we have a seamless transition,” Sites said. “We’re working together to make sure we do everything we can for the faculty, students, and FHS community.”
According to Kettle Run senior Maggie Swift, Burton does not shy away from enforcing school rules.
“He’ll definitely call you out in the hall if you’re breaking the dress code, but he’s fair about it,” Swift said. “He’ll [also] joke around and have conversations with you. He’s really nice.”
Burton stresses an educational environment that allows students to learn how they learn in order to prepare them for future learning, whether in the working world or higher education. And he expects to do a lot of learning as FHS principal.
“I’ve got a lot of listening and a lot of learning to do,” Burton said. “Like anything else, it takes time. Judge me not by what I say here today; judge me by what I do. I’m just here to help and serve. That being said, everyone here has treated me outstandingly – first class and professional. I can’t say enough about the way the present administration and everyone I’ve come into contact with has treated me.”

~Sophie Byvik, editor-in-chief

Pell’s drive helps students thrive

After getting her bachelor’s degree in criminology, English resource teacher Jennifer Pell decided to switch her focus to special education. Pell has been a teacher at Fauquier for two years and has earned the reputation of a hard working teacher who is fully devoted to her students.
“I always knew I wanted to help people,” Pell said. “I like helping people reach their potential, so I figured what better way to do that than to become a teacher?”
Pell teaches ninth, 10th, and 12th grade English and a class called Self Determination.
“She’s a no-nonsense and no-foolishness teacher,” said Becky Resseman, Pell’s assistant. “The first couple days of a new class, the kids don’t know how to roll with her. But once they see what she’s made of and what she’s trying to do, they’ll fall right in. The kids just love her. We have kids that we taught together two years ago, and they still come to her even though she’s not their teacher.”
An avid runner, Pell enjoys staying fit and tries to work out for at least an hour every day. Two years ago she ran a half marathon, and last year she ran a marathon for the first time.
“I like feeling good,” Pell said. “Exercise is a huge stress reducer. Being able to work out just kind of lifts the day off your shoulders.”
On April 20, Pell ran a hard-core 10 mile obstacle course designed to test stamina and strength called the Tough Mudder.
“This was my first one and it was awesome,” Pell said. “It’s all about teamwork. You go 10 miles through all sorts of obstacles. You’re jumping over fire, crawling in the mud and rocks, and climbing walls. You wouldn’t think that I do, but I like to do a little bit of extreme things.”
Pell brings the willpower from her athletics into the classroom. In Self Determination, Pell helps students identify their goals, values, and interests by sharing her own drive and persistence.
“It has pretty much always been a part of my life – being focused on something, figuring out how to get that goal, and going for it,” Pell said. “I like empowering students. I love to see students who are kind of shy at first and don’t really speak up for themselves come out of their shell.
Sophomore Katelyn Argabright took English 9 from Pell last year, and now she’s in Self Determination.
“I think the class has helped me because I didn’t normally focus on goals before,” Argabright said. “But since she has done the topic on goals, one of mine is getting A’s and B’s. Now I’m on point, because I’ve talked about it and worked on it.”
Pell individualizes the content for her students. If one approach doesn’t work, she figures out another.
“She’ll help if we don’t understand a concept,” Argabright said. “I just feel comfortable with her because she’s friendly, open, and willing to help.”
Pell also engages the students by providing interesting and fun material.
“I try to give them different tools and different strategies to survive high school,” Pell said. “And I try to help them enjoy it while they’re here. No one wants to do something that’s awful or not fun, so I try to make it interesting, fun, and different.”
Last term Pell had the students in her English 12 class write letters to Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner telling him how much they enjoyed the book. Hosseini wrote back to say that he was glad he could share his culture. He sent autographed pictures, a letter to each student, and a bookmark.
“We didn’t actually get the letters until the term was over,” Pell said. “But I would see them in the hallway and say, ‘Come visit me because I have this,’ and their faces just lit up.”
Pell has been a Christian since high school and helps young people by mentoring kids in the youth group at her church.
“The faith helps you realize that there’s a bigger picture in life rather than just here or right now,” Pell said. “It keeps you grounded and focused on the path you need to go down. I guide the kids at the youth group on their journey through faith.”
It’s evident to those around her that she really cares for the people in her life.
“She helps everybody,” Resseman said. “She is really here for the kids. She wants to give as much as she possibly can, and when she doesn’t feel that she’s reaching them, she thinks she’s failing, but she really isn’t. This is just her second year here, and she already is an awesome teacher, but she’s going be one heck of a teacher when she really gets her feet under her.”

~Jake Lunsford, staff reporter

Budding teachers bolster education

Junior Kyle Frizzell listens intently while Jana Patterson discusses The Great Gatsby with the AP English 11 class.
Junior Kyle Frizzell listens intently while Jana Patterson discusses The Great Gatsby with the AP English 11 class.

Students learn through experience every day in classrooms and labs, but experience educates teachers, too, especially those seeking to join the educational workforce. Student teachers Jana Patterson and alumna Brittany Franklin (2007) are tackling the active classroom under the guidance of mentors.
“I made a career change from federal government,” Patterson said. “I decided that I wanted to pursue a lifelong interest in English literature and helping adolescents. I always have loved reading, writing, and appreciating authors’ use of rhetorical strategies for effect.”
Patterson is pursuing a master’s degree in Secondary Education at George Mason, which required a 15 week internship. Having grown up in Marshall, Patterson applied with the Fauquier County Public School system and was matched with English teacher Julie Duggan.
“I think she’s really creative and good at putting her finger on activities that will get students invested and involved in particular concepts,” Duggan said. “She has become more relaxed in front of the group, more flexible with what she wants to do, and better at helping students get a long-term reward from an activity.”
After graduating from West Virginia University with a degree in advertising, Franklin found that working for a political campaign was not as creative as she liked, and that pushed her towards a graduate degree in education.
“I wasn’t finding what I wanted from advertising,” Franklin said. “They always want teachers, so [education] seemed pretty stable. I love history, and that was my minor, so I automatically went into social studies. I’ve worked with kids at camps and in other settings, but never in a school before.”
Franklin’s student teaching program required her to split time between middle school and high school; she spent three months at Marshall Middle School and is currently sponsored by history teacher Ron Pfeiffer, who taught Franklin for three years.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Franklin said. “Ancient history has been kind of a struggle – my minor was mostly in modern history, the 1800s on – and [Mr. Pfeiffer]’s given me a ton of resources to work with.”
While university courses in education give many useful and applicable strategies for the classroom, experience often casts a new light on what is taught in a textbook.
“The info given in university courses is very idealistic,” Patterson said. “When you get into a real classroom, you realize whether those suggested strategies are practical. But it has been very valuable to take these classes prior to and during my internship.”
Franklin was able to incorporate technology from her own classes into her work with Pfeiffer’s students.
“We were talking today about different technologies that can be applied in the classroom, like Prezi,” Franklin said. “My undergrad and graduate courses both applied.”
Duggan has worked closely with Patterson, initially discussing lessons together during planning period. Gradually Patterson began to teach lessons, and not just to students.
“During spring break I realized I had to throw her out there,” Duggan said. “Most of what she’s done has gone very well; I’ve also learned a lot. It’s really fun to work with someone else. I had trouble with that in the beginning [because] I wanted to be perfect. [But] it’s okay that I have someone else in the room; it’s okay that I’m not perfect.”
Having taught both in middle and high school settings, Franklin found that high school was a challenge because the students were closer to her in age, but both internships exposed the nearly unknown rigors of teaching.
“It is more than a full-time job,” Franklin said. “You’re in this school, but education doesn’t stop there, whether you find new ways to educate yourself, or the best ways to teach material. You’re always thinking about it in some form.”