New teacher Allison Witham joins English department

Abby Fields, Staff Writer

The resignation Shelli Telschow prior to winter break left many 9th grade English students in the Liberal Arts program without a teacher. For the days leading up to the recess students, teachers and administrators alike were unsure of how to proceed and who might claim the job. The conflict was resolved, however, when former South High student teacher, Allison Witham, stepped into the position on January 7th.

Before coming back to South, Witham worked in special district 287, which is, “a district that specializes in serving students that are not having their needs met in mainstream classrooms.” Within the district, she first worked as an English teacher at City West Academy, a recovery school. She then transitioned to North Education Center, a school serving students who had been “excluded” (or expelled) from other schools, and those who are parenting or pregnant.

In the wake of Telschow’s resignation, South High English teachers Corinth Matera and Marcia Sutherland remembered Witham and called inquiring about the job.

“I jumped at the opportunity,” Witham exclaimed.

After an interview and a couple weeks of a substitute teacher leading the classroom, Witham took the reigns of room 206A. There was some struggle to come, though. With a term wrapping up, Witham was responsible for entering grades for various assignments, many of which she could not find. Witham found comfort in her students, though, saying that she, “can’t believe how welcoming and flexible [the students] have been.”

But everyone must get accustomed to the changes. For the students, it is a change in teaching styles. Witham commented that students find her to be stricter than Telschow was. She admitted that she is strict about giving passes, and is, “Trying to break some habits of eating in class and storing stuff in here that’s not mine.”

Witham is adjusting as well. Her old positions were had much stricter security procedures than South does. For example, “I always had my door locked at all times during the school day at my older position,” Witham explained. “To have students be able to just walk in is actually really nice, but I’m getting used to that.”

The presence of extracurricular activities is also an exciting change for her. At her previous position after school activities were not offered. “I’ve been doing my best to get to them,” Witham said.

And as South High enters its second semester, Witham looks forward.

“Ms. Matera was really helpful,” Witham recalls. “She set the students up with a project that kind of transitioned [into] me coming.” Upon her arrival, she then dove into a mini-unit to get to know the students. She is now planning for the first novel the class will read in the third quarter.

“At South there is a drive to learn,” Witham said. “There is a sense of curiosity that I admire. [Students] like to have fun!” And as she settles into her new post, she finds herself happy with her students, her coworkers and the South high community.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Witham laughed.