Dozens of new faculty members arrive at Lawrence High due to budget cuts, retirements

Lawrence High’s staff has changed a lot; get to know all the new people and situations for the 2022-23 year


Dylan Wheatman

New teacher Molly Fuller laughs while teaching a class.

By Finn Lotton-Barker, Jayden Moore, and Jonas Lord

By Finn Lotton-Barker

In the wake of budget cuts, retirements, and resignations a plethora of new, and familiar, teachers have come to Lawrence High.

Carrington Porter, a new teacher at Lawrence High has also worked hard to adapt, transitioning from student assisting English at LHS last year to having it full-time as a teacher this year.

“Student teaching was so wildly different,” Porter said. “I’ve come to realize that student teaching is, in many ways, much easier than full-time teaching.”

Working with English teacher and seasoned veteran Paula Bastemeyer was insightful, Porter said, but it was only a slice of the work and effort required to run a classroom.

“I had the privilege of coming into a classroom that was already established by my mentor teacher,” Porter said. “She established classroom expectations and procedures, created a positive and conducive learning environment, and mapped out the content for the school year; all before I ever stepped foot into her classroom.”

Though the challenge of building a system and curriculum was daunting to Porter, the opportunity to start working where she had already taught was well worth it.

“When I received an offer to teach full-time at LHS, I was absolutely elated,” she said. “I had such a special experience as a student teacher here, allowing me to create meaningful relationships with both the students and the staff.”

Porter holds herself to high standards, which made her anxious about facing students as a first-year teacher. 

“The pressure I put on myself made me nervous that my students would feel they’ve been dealt some sort of disservice by having me,” she said.

Fortunately, the support felt by students and faculty alike have helped her feel right at home.

“I’ve been so very lucky with the amount of encouragement and support they’ve shown me as I figure out how to be the best teacher I can be for them,” she said.

Teachers who returned to LHS have also had to make changes to adapt to a new building and learning environment. For English teacher Keri Lauxman, not everything is how she left it.

Lauxman stepped away from LHS after 12 years of service to teach at the middle school level, moving to Southwest.

“I felt I’d sort of done everything I needed to do at the time and I was just looking forward to a new challenge,” she said.

“As a professional, I like to get out of my comfort zone and try things that are different and new and hard,” Lauxman said. “Trading my eleventh and twelfth graders for 11-year-olds was definitely difficult.”

The level shift was very valuable for Lauxman though, as it forced her to reevaluate her teaching style completely. 

When an opportunity came to return, she felt ready to take it.

“After three years there was an opening here at Lawrence high and it just felt like a great time to come back,” she said.

For Lauxman, those learning experiences at Southwest have empowered her to tackle high school English content in new and more effective ways.

“I’ve taught these classes so many times but that three-year gap, stepping away and dealing with younger learners has really forced me to look at how I approach that same content,”

However LHS English content isn’t exactly how she left it, again presenting a new and exciting challenge.

“The year that I left the English department went through a huge curriculum redesign,” she said. “The book room is full of new and different titles as well as the classics. There has definitely been a learning curve in getting back to what I know.” 

Another returner, advanced chemistry teacher Zach Casey was excited to see some changes to issues that had been difficult in his past here. 

One plus of coming back here is that the science department has become extremely coherent and helpful to each other,” Casey said, “And there’s always been a little bit of that before but I think it’s so much better than what it was, which is a real positive thing to see.”

Though things have improved, he thinks it’s important to recognize the problem we face with so much teacher loss. 

“There’s just a lot of pressure happening to teachers, who are now choosing to leave the profession,” Casey said. That’s kinda sad to think about.”

For Casey, a pretty obvious solution is to listen to educators’ voices more when making decisions that affect them.

“You still see changes that are made last minute almost,” he said. “Maybe there is more of a thought process but it’s not unveiled until the end.”

Communicating with those teachers, he says, will help stop pointless animosity between teachers and management. 

“I think teacher input is just something that isn’t considered a lot of times, sadly,” Casey said. “I think it’s gotten just a little better since I came back, but I can still see huge room for improvement.”

Though the beginning of another school year has meant plenty of things to plenty of people, the general consensus is best said by Ms. Lauxman.

“It’s been a strange combination of old and new but in all, it’s been a nice homecoming.” 

By Jayden Moore

This year at LHS, there are two new assistant principals: Greg Farley and Elaina Honas. Honas is a more recent arrival to LHS, originally starting her teaching career in California. Last year, Honas was a special education coordinator of secondary transition programs and building administrator at East Heights.

“I was a middle school math teacher, so it was a very unique experience, but that was probably the best first way to get started into teaching because I had the greatest set of kids,” Honas said.

Mr. Farley, a former math teacher, has taught in Omaha and St, Joseph, but he finds himself returning to LHS time and time again.

“Everyday interactions with the students at LHS are amazing,” Farley said. “I have been fortunate to teach thousands of great kids over the years. There are too many favorite memories to list just one.”

Ms. Honas first heard about LHS through her stepkids and the positive ways in which they viewed the school. 

“LHS has a very friendly atmosphere. The staff are fantastic and so are the students,” Honas said. “There is a very good culture and traditions that have been established here.”

Ms. Honas enjoys getting to know more about students each day.

“I’ve had so many students come up and say ‘hi’, share with me what’s going on in their lives and what their interests are, and that’s why I got into teaching in the first place, and it’s been fantastic to come back,” said Ms. Honas.

Mr. Farley takes pride in the problem-solving aspect of his new job as an assistant principal.

I truly enjoy working with students and staff in finding solutions to their problems that come up daily. Every day is unique and I expect to learn a few things each day.” Farley said. 

Mr. Farley and Ms. Honas both prioritize their students and want the best for them each and every day.

“Student learning is the ultimate goal of education,” Farley said. “That learning can occur in classes, in activities, in athletics, anywhere on campus.”

By Jonas Lord

The recent departure of longtime German teacher Arne Scholz has shaken up the LHS German program, putting it into a long-term sub limbo that impacted the ways in which the language is taught. 

Because of this sudden development, sophomore and German 1 student Cameron Schavee hasn’t experienced the challenges that he was expecting.

“Well, my experience through this is basically, you know, from homerooms and all that stuff,” Schavee said. “Sometimes it just gets boring after a while.”

The curriculum in German 3 is similar, but some of the content is taught more conversationally and real-world application is a little more prevalent. Junior Cole Ahlander is enrolled in the German 3 class and has noticed the decreased intensity of classes after the absence of Scholz.

  “I’m still using words more in German so that kind of helps but other than that, we’re not doing much,” Ahalnder said. 

Not only has the intensity decreased but Ahlander finds the curriculum to be slipping as well.

 “I’m learning less German but I’m still kind of learning German because we have to give him (long-term sub) a word every day in German,” Ahlander said. “We have to repeat the same word every day but also give him a new one.” 

The usage of the learning program Duolingo is prevalent in both classes, where it’s frequently utilized as a source for assignments and practice.

“It’s just people doing Duolingo and just chatting about stuff,” Schavee said. “Not really studying everything, just doing a bit of Duolingo, matching, typing words, and then just talking.”

LHS principal Jessica Bassett hopes to address the issues surrounding the variety of curricula through the implementation of a new program called Edgenuity, which aims to be more comprehensive than learning programs like Duolingo.

“Edgenuity is a learning platform that actually walks students through lessons and students can go back and ask questions and kind of work through it and it’ll let them know if they did it correctly and how many they got correct and how to correct it where the errors were,” Bassett said. “I think it also provides the option where you can speak back into it and then they will let you know if your pronunciation is right.” 

Bassett and her staff are also trying to reach out to retired German teachers and University of Kansas German majors to see if they’d be willing to come in and assist in teaching the class.

“Hopefully our desire is to get a teacher again. We already had to, because of some of the budget things that happened, give up Latin,” Bassett said. “We don’t want to give up any other foreign languages because we think it’s important to provide students with choice.”

As of the publication of this story, the LHS German program is in a safe but unpredictable position as the administration works to find a suitable teacher. 

“Be prepared for the unexpected,” Bassett said. “If we learned anything, it gives us some ideas in terms of how do we use our connections to make sure that we can fill a gap a little more quickly than we have this time.”

Designs by Jack Ritter