Walking around the room, she suddenly sees a hand being hesitantly raised in the air. As she makes her way over to the student’s desk, she goes through the mental run-down of all of the confusing things that an Algebra II class could potentially have. After arriving at the student’s desk, she attempts to find the reason behind the confusion. She tries explaining the lesson in a different way, hoping that it’s even a little bit clearer. Then, it happens. That’s it- that’s the part she loves. That look in her student’s eyes when they suddenly understand.
“I love teaching because every time students are confused and I explain it in different ways and they understand, and they get all excited- I love to see that in them,” math teacher Soojung Min said.
This year there are approximately 41 new teachers on campus, including a new counselor and a new administrator. Having graduated from an NEISD high school, Min is one of these new additions to staff, teaching Algebra II and AQR (Advanced Quantified Reasoning).
In fact, it was her ability to explain things in simpler terms that encouraged her to pursue a career as a teacher.
“I mean I was really good at math since I was young, and I was really good at showing my friends how to do math and explaining it to them, so I was like, ‘Ok, let me just go for teaching’,” Min said.
But Min is not unfamiliar with NEISD, having graduated from Madison high school before temporarily relocating to New York.
“I got started teaching in New York because I got married, so my husband and I decided to move after we graduated from UT Austin, and then now that he’s done, we came back. I actually graduated from Madison and I live right over here, so I applied to work at Johnson,” Min said.
And even though she has taught math before, Min explains how there are certain aspects of teaching that are very different from what she is used to.
“I’m coming from low income inner city schools so I don’t want to say anything bad about it [because] I had a good time, but here we have a lot of teachers, compared to the other school that I’m coming from. The difference is going to be the students, and the school’s bigger. Here, I teach Algebra II and AQR- Advanced Quantified Reasoning,” Min said.
In addition to these differences, being a part of a team this year actually brings some valuable collaboration for a change, according to Min.
“It is different being on a team because you can work together and you can share your ideas here, where over there I had to do everything by myself and I had no one to share it with,” Min said.
But she is not alone when it comes to being the only teacher. One of several new art teachers, Kimberly Rumfelt, gives her experience.
“Before I came to Johnson I was a teacher at Cotulla ISD. It’s South, it’s like half way to Laredo and then a little way further. I really like it, being a part of the art team. In Cotulla I was the only art teacher, it’s a much smaller school. So it’s really nice to have people to work with, and to kind of teach with and come up with ideas and stuff like that. So I like that aspect of it. I don’t really know any different I guess, you know I was by myself before. So this would have been new either way I guess,” Rumfelt said.
Aside from being the only art teacher in Cotulla, Rumfelt has taught both high school and college art courses.
“I lived in San Antonio before that, and I was teaching at Northwest Vista college in the Southwest School of Art downtown, and then I switched to high school, and I just happened to get the job in Cotulla, so I was commuting back and forth. And so I looked really hard to try to get [a job] here in San Antonio. It’s different, it’s different in the structure, and as far as the expectations. But I hold my students to a similar standard either way,” Rumfelt said.
But not all of this year’s new teachers have had the experience of working for a school district.
“I was in the military for eight years before I came to Johnson. When I got out of the Air Force, I just decided that I wanted to be a teacher, and so I just started applying. My degree is in Criminal Justice and Business, but I’m an EMT. In the military I was a medic, and that got me the job here teaching EMT classes,” Health Science teacher Jayson Conger said.
In the health science department, Conger teaches Principles of Health Science, Clinical Rotaton, and EMT classes, where seniors who complete the course are eligible to become a certified EMT.
“I’ve had a wide range of different skills and experience in the military, and I worked in the hospital for four years at Samci. I’ve a lot of experience in a hospital setting, on an ambulance, all that stuff, but EMT, that’s Emergency Medical Technician, they start off as a problems to solution course, and at the end of the course they are actually being able to take the certification test, and they can get a job as soon as they graduate as an EMT,” Conger said.
This certification test costs up to $1,000 outside of the high school setting, according to Conger. Conger also went on to say how often times students don’t know what kind of doctor they want to be until they get the experience of actually going to a hospital and watching medical practices firsthand.
“I think that when they come in they wanna do something, they’re not sure what they wanna do per say, but they wanna do
something. ‘I wanna be a doctor’, ‘I wanna be a pediatrician’, ‘Well what does a pediatrician do?’, ‘Oh, I never thought about that’, and so it’s really just an eye opener for them of what careers are out there in the medical world. Because there is a ton of different health professions. And people don’t realize that they’re health professions, sometimes people think a doctor’s a doctor, but there’s 126 different specialties, so what do you want to specialize in as a doctor?,” Conger said.
The medical profession is definitely a complex one- filled with all sorts of medical terminology, it may seem like a “foreign language”, as Conger says.
In total approximately 41 people were added to the staff this year, including a new counselor from NSID (Desiree Meza) and a new administrator.
“Sometimes the district, what they’ll do is they’ll place people, Mr. Cone was promoted, and I got a call and they said, ‘Hey you’re going to Johnson,’ and I was thrilled. I enjoyed working at the Alternative high school because I’ve had experience working with troubled youth in the past and those kids need a lot of help, but I also like working with kids that have got it together, and have aspirations and ambitions. So I’m glad I am at Johnson,” assistant principal David Bordelon said.
Prior to being transferred to Johnson, Bordelon had worked in NEISD for 20 years, as well as at MacArthur HS, Madison HS, STEM, Eisenhower middle school, and the Alternative high school (AHS).
Whether it’s from the military, a previous school district, schools out of state, or from another local high school, the new teachers definitely have a variety of backgrounds, and all in all seem to be excited about what this year holds.
“I think it’s important for folks to maybe change where they work every four or five years-it’s like right now I’m learning a whole new set of dynamics. I don’t know people so I’ve gotta learn the system here, even though many of the things are the same, the way that they do specific things are different at every place that you’re at, and you’ve kind of gotta ‘learn the ropes’ so to speak. I’ve got a great supporting cast of assistant principals, Mr. Mehlbrech is a great leader, so it’s a great spot to be in, and very supportive. I feel very comfortable being here and I’ve got a lot of helping.”