Teachers Enjoy Their First Year At West


Emily Schmidt

Lori Huffman chats with her Foods 1 students during seventh hour.

Emily Schmidt, Reporter

Students spot many of the same teachers over and over during their time in Bellevue West, which would explain why it comes as such a shock to see a new name when skimming through schedules. This past year’s group of fresh faces on staff includes social studies teacher Steven Gentry, family and consumer science teacher Lori Huffman, and world language teacher Debra Richardson. While their subjects may be on different ends of the spectrum, the three shared similar experiences their first year.

For example, all three were drawn to West because of family. Huffman had heard a great deal about West through her husband, head football coach Mike Huffman. Gentry, who teaches at both West and East was brought to Bellevue by his wife and her family. Richardson’s brother, who lives in town found the job and convinced her to apply.

“I was living in New Hampshire at the time and we Skype interviewed, and here I am,” Richardson said.

Both Gentry and Richardson said they enjoyed the people they worked with the most. Richardson appreciated the helpfulness and kindness of the staff and administration, while Gentry had fun interacting with the students. Huffman’s favorite part of the year was teaching at the same school as her husband the year his football team got their first state championship.

“It was fun to actually be here and share that with him,” Huffman said.

All three are also looking forward to making changes for next year. Gentry said he would like to have more project-based learning in his classroom and steer away from direct instruction. Richardson is enthusiastic for next year as French 3-4 will become dual credit, meaning students have the opportunity to earn both high school and college credits at the same time. With that comes an entire new curriculum.

“I think people who come to a level of 3-4 in a language deserve to have college credit, so I’m excited for that,” Richardson said.

Richardson isn’t the only one rewriting curriculum. Huffman is changing the curriculum for foods 1 and 2, as well as culinary arts.

“I want to increase the restaurant experience in my classes,” Huffman said. “I just completed a ServSafe training so I actually can certify students for college classes and certifications.”

ServSafe training for Huffman included a hefty book, a powerpoint that was approximately 280 slides, and two tests. Passing the tests opened up the option for possible dual enrollment credits for students in her classes. Huffman, along with most other teachers, has had assistance from and been influenced by other teachers.

“Coach Kratochvil, Mrs. Dacey and Mrs. McVey have all been very beneficial in helping me develop some great World History stuff for my kids,” Gentry said.

Another helpful resource the teachers had was the administration, who work hard to make the teachers lives a little easier.

“The administration here at Bellevue West seems like they’re on the same page as us, it doesn’t seem like a hierarchy system like it is at some other schools I’ve been at,” Huffman said. “They’re really here to support us and they’ve just made it really fun to work here.”

Huffman and Gentry said they had trouble with pushback from students towards the start of the year, but despite the challenges, all three teachers adapted and found themselves enjoying their first year at West.

“I’m just really happy to be at Bellevue West, I think I’ve finally found the district I want to retire in,” Huffman said.