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Veteran and new teacher share experiences, dreams

Connections with students most important part, art teacher says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn schools start today, and local teachers are ready to go. So, what do veteran and new teachers reflect on and expect in their careers? Two Placer High School teachers sat down with the Journal to let us know. Toby Covich has been teaching at Placer High for 34 years and graduated from the school before that. Over the years Covich has taught beginning art, advanced art, drawing and painting, as well as starting the school’s ceramics program. He is currently the department chair for Visual and Performing Arts. Over the decades some things about the campus are still the same, Covich said. “Some things are reciprocal,” Covich said. “They are always there. The students are still the same. The school itself and its culture is very much the same. It’s been a big part of the community. We have had an open campus at lunch. We put a little more responsibility on students, much like a junior college.” However, there have been changes, some allowing teachers to bring more into the learning environment, Covich said. “Technology is probably the biggest one, having information at your fingertips on the computer,” he said. Covich said parents can now track students’ progress online and teachers have access to student records and transcripts. Covich said he tries to check them ahead of time when he can, so he is more aware of the students coming into his classes. Covich said one of his favorite parts, and what he considers to be the most important, of teaching at the school has been developing relationships with his students. He said he enjoys when he gets former students’ wedding invites or having past students bring their children to the school to meet him. One memory that stands out in his mind is when a group of seniors in the mid 1990s created underground T-shirts inspired by the Budweiser King of Beers logo, which instead read Placer High School: King of Peers. The shirts had the names of all the seniors printed on the back. Covich said some students didn’t want their names on the shirt, and with the school’s no tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, the students were asked not to wear the shirts again. When some did, they were suspended. “As a teacher I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I felt like we could have laughed with the students on that one and let it go,” Covich said. As a veteran teacher at the school, Covich said he had several pieces of advice that he’s learned over the years for new teachers, such as Katelin Butcher, who will be teaching French I, II and III/IV this year. “Just like we ask the students to, as a new teacher get involved right away,” Covich said. “Balance your own family and interests with how much time you put in this school. Don’t overlook relationships with the kids. Don’t be afraid to talk to the parents. Don’t worry about your failures, always try new things.” Butcher, who is a new Auburn resident and is teaching for the first time at Placer High, said she has several expectations and hopes for her career. “I hope to really gain respect from my students,” Butcher said. “I am young, so I think I do have some difficulty ahead of me. I expect that I will be working a lot and I will be taking a lot home. I’m really emotionally connected to this work.” Interactions with students and the way she hopes to teach her classes are important, Butcher said. “I’m really excited for the connections with the students,” she said. “I like teaching this age because they are more mature. They are more responsible. You can have more intelligent conversations. I’m not here to be strict. I’m not here to get information across. I’m here to learn with them and to help them learn.” Butcher said she is also looking forward to getting involved with the school, learning some new classroom management techniques and how to stay positive through a teaching career. Peter Efstathiu, principal at Placer High, said when it comes to Covich he likes to get his input for decisions about the school, because Covich’s experience gives him the knowledge of who the decision will impact and how. Efstathiu said new high school teachers should be prepared to work hard and act as teacher, custodian and secretary. Butcher’s characteristics made her a good addition to the campus, Efstathiu said. “I liked her energy,” he said. “I liked her enthusiasm. Her honesty really came out in the interview. She genuinely seemed like she wanted to work at Placer. She wanted to be a French teacher at Placer High School. I think that was a big difference.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- Auburn’s new and newly permanent teachers Placer High School: Richard Darrach, ag welding Annette Udall, English Kaija Perkins-Uno, art Katelin Butcher, French Gilberto Pena, Spanish Brett Belanger, social studies Jarred Sellars, special education Trista Zako, special education Skyridge Elementary School: Jennifer Lewandowski, principal Louise Knop, returning second-grade April Johnstone, returning second-grade Alta Vista Education Center: Amy Netemeyer, preschool Rock Creek Elementary School: Kathleen Brady, preschool Kathy Daly, returning (Title I) Scott Clarkson, returning second/third-grade Rebecca Hawkins, returning first-grade Monika Peak, junior kindergarten E.V. Cain Charter Middle School: Nate Swesey, returning SDC Jennifer Kelchner, math Jeffery James, history Robert Campbell, computers Auburn Elementary School: Tracey Stokes, kindergarten Kelly McKee, second-grade Delphi Whittle, returning second-grade Sheryl Cornish, returning first-grade Bowman Charter School: Darcy French, fifth-grade Bobbie Davison, occupational therapist