15 Here For 15

Staley Staff Reflect On The Past 15 Years

     Since the school opened its doors in 2008, staff members have come and gone. However, despite the challenges that come with this profession, there are exactly 15 faculty members who have stuck around for the past 15 years.

 

Andrea Holmes

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Science teacher and Emeralds coach Andrea Holmes has grown alongside the school for more than a decade.

     “Fifteen years has actually gone by pretty quickly,” Holmes said. “When I started I had no kids of my own, and now I have five kids. Staley has been part of that growth.” 

     While her life outside of the school has changed, her curriculum hasn’t varied greatly. Holmes has mostly taught Biology, though she taught Chemistry and Anatomy when needed. However, Holmes said Biology was the subject that had her heart. Besides the love Holmes has for the subject she teaches, she also has a strong connection to the school community. 

     “The Staley community is really important to me,” Holmes said. “I chose to live in this area so I could raise my kids in Staley.” 

     Accordingly, Holmes said she believed she would be at the school for another 15 years to watch her kids grow up in the district. Holmes has also had the chance to watch some of her former students come back to teach at the school. Science teacher Joseph Quigley and English teacher Lauren Sullivan were two former students who have become colleagues. “From a student to a friend, it’s pretty cool to have that transition,” Holmes said. 

 

Bob Buck

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Social studies teacher Bob Buck, J.D., started his first year of teaching during the school’s first year, , after leaving his 10-year role as a lawyer. Buck said that while his former job was a decent profession, it didn’t compare to the classroom environment. 

     “I feel very fortunate to teach here,” Buck said. “I think I have the greatest job in the world, and I truly mean that.” 

     At the beginning of his teaching career, Buck taught World History to freshmen. As time went on, he taught AP U.S. History and AP World History. While Buck eventually started teaching Government, a class he said he felt most comfortable with, he valued his experience teaching other classes. 

     “That really broadened my horizons,” Buck said. “If I had gone directly to Government, I wouldn’t have been as well versed.” 

     Buck said that a constant each year was the challenge of saying goodbye to his students. 

     “Every year I think it’s never going to get any better than this,” Buck said. “I love these kids. I know they’re excited to go to college, but I miss them. It’s never going to be the same. Then the next year starts, and it starts all over again.” 

 

Chelle Cox

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Art teacher Chelle Cox is another of the Staley Originals who helped create the school community that exists today. While the school is established in many ways, it looked very different in the beginning. 

     “The first year was difficult because we didn’t have any traditions or set procedures yet,” Cox said. “We were building everything from scratch.” 

     As the school has evolved, the way that Cox taught changed with it. While the subjects she taught have remained mostly the same, digital programs have become more prominent in art classes over time. Reflecting on all the classes she had taught, Cox said  AP Art and Design was particularly special to her. The rigor of the course was something that bonded students together. 

     “It builds a community,” Cox said. “We share a lot, and having that pressure of turning that work out for a grade is different than in a regular classroom. They get really close, and we celebrate together when we’re done and go to d’Bronx pizza.” 

     The friendships that Cox created with her students made graduations something very emotional for her. 

     “Every year I cry at graduation because I don’t want to lose those that I’ve gotten so close to,” Cox said. “I’m so excited for what they’re doing, but it’s also sad to know that it’s all changing.” 

 

Carol Toney 

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Gifted Resource Specialist Carol Toney was one of the people who helped organize the opening day of the school. Toney said the first day was a vivid memory from her time at the school. 

     “I’ll never forget Mr. Anderson standing out there screeching with his voice,” Toney said. “We had blocked off the student entrance with these green ribbons. Mr. Mershon had swelling, orchestral music from The Naturals. The music is playing, everybody gets quiet, and there are skydivers coming down. They were the ones that brought in the Staley Falcon flag.” 

     As she was there to see the school develop its roots, maintaining that original vision was a strong motivator for Toney. 

     “Opening this building and seeing the vision for this building, I feel like I’m helping carry that original vision through,” Toney said. 

     As a Gifted Resource Specialist, seeing AP Research students’ ideas come to fruition was also a rewarding part of the job. 

     “I’ve found I really enjoy teaching AP Research,” Toney said. “ It’s really cool to watch the kids do the independent projects. The amount of growth I see in two years in students is phenomenal.” 

 

Anna Maki-Birchler

Elyse Bredfeldt

 

     Spanish teacher Anna Maki-Birchler has taught language classes at the school since the beginning. Spanish III, IV and V have been her classes since the start.

     Though the proficiency levels of each class are different, Maki-Birchler said she loved each of the classes for different reasons. “I love Spanish III so much because it’s the first time that they really start to be able to communicate. To see the joy in the ability,” Maki-Birchler said. “There’s such a huge amount of growth in Spanish III. In Spanish IV, instead of growing up, I see such growth in depth. In Spanish V I’ve had these kids for three years. They are very much like my own.”

     Her  students learned about different holidays, stories and traditions of Spanish culture. Maki-Birchler said this broadening of horizons was something she valued. 

     “Watching how perspectives change of the world, that is the most rewarding,” Maki-Birchler said. 

     The ability to connect with others was something Maki-Birchler emphasized the value of as well. 

     “When a student tells me for the first time she was able to have an in-depth conversation with her grandma, that’s what it’s all about. If someone can communicate with a loved one like that, that’s everything.” 

Kelly Rule

Elyse Bredfeldt

      Business and Marketing teacher Kelly Rule is one of the 15 staff members that’s been at the school since the beginning. Rule said the majority of her career has been here, which is something she said people don’t see often. Rule said she enjoyed coming to work because of two main things. The first is her students. Rule said she gets bored easily, so the constantly changing environment of a classroom is one she appreciated. 

     “The reason why I teach is because high school students make it different every day,” Rule said. 

     Besides the spontaneity, teaching brought to her routine, Rule also valued the support of her coworkers. 

     “The teachers here are so great,” Rule said. “While we push each other, we rally around each other too. You don’t find that at very many high schools.” 

James McNeely

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Counselor James McNeely has supported students throughout his time at the school. McNeely was the School Resource Specialist for the first three years and has been a counselor for 12. 

     For McNeely, the most rewarding part of his role was seeing the achievements of students. 

     “I like seeing our students be successful,” McNeely said. “That’s really rewarding, and I like the fact that I played a role in that.” 

     McNeely was particularly proud of the fact that since the school opened, the graduation rate has consistently been between 98 and 99%. 

     “I’ve seen a lot of kids come through here and go to college,” McNeely said. “I like walking down the hallway and seeing those graduation pictures that are up in the hallway.” 

     Reflecting on his time at the school, McNeely said his favorite memory was the LipDub STTV produced in 2012. 

     “The LipDub was a blast,” McNeely said. “The kids and staff, everybody had a good time doing that. Everybody participated, and that was really cool.” 

Kristina Francis

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Mathematics teacher Kristina Francis said the growing support for the school’s extracurriculars was exciting to see over the years. 

     “One of my favorite things is seeing the school become a school,” Francis said. “Traditions that did not exist and incredible programs, clubs and activities grow, and students get behind that.” 

     While the school’s activities have changed, the subjects Francis taught have not differed much. She said her subject matter remained similar, but technology led to certain changes in learning methods. Francis said that of all the classes she taught, her favorite was AP Statistics.

     “It’s so applicable,” Francis said. “Everything we do there helps in any field. You will benefit from knowing how to understand research and data.” 

Cherie Burgett

Elyse Bredfeldt

     When the school first opened, journalism teacher Cherié Burgett was responsible for all the journalism classes at the school. STTV, Legacy, and Talon were all taught by her as well as the intro classes. Currently, Burgett advises Talon, Legacy and StaleyNews. Burgett said these classes were particularly special to her. 

     “Those are the kids that choose to be here,” Burgett said. “Every year I find new kids that are relatable, and they become like family to me.” 

     Though Burgett had a background in journalism, teaching it to high school students was an adjustment. Burgett said that she learned alongside her students in the first few years. 

     “Those kids helped me build this program,” Burgett said. “While I was a good journalist, I had no idea how to make a newspaper or a yearbook. We all learned it together.” 

Chris Carey

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Chris Carey, M.Ed., taught Spanish classes as well as AVID for multiple years. While Carey was unable to teach AVID this year, he said he valued what the program taught, such as organization and college preparation. Carey said he also enjoyed teaching Spanish I, as it showed students their communication capabilities. 

     “It gets them going into Spanish communication,” Carey said. “It gets them to realize they can actually speak and communicate in Spanish.”

 

 

 

Jeanine Felten

Graphic by Grace Winkler

     Attendance office assistant Jeanine Felten worked for seven years in the nurse’s office as an assistant before filling a role in the attendance office. Felten said the past 15 years had been mixed for her. “In some ways its gone by quickly, and in some ways its gone by very slowly,” Felten said. Felten said she appreciated the first year of the school because forming connections was a bit easier. 

     “The first year was nice because it was small,” Felten said. “You got to know the kids a little better.” 

     Though the school population has grown, Felten said it was nice to form some relationships with students, even if the ones she knew best were usually late for school. 

 

Kate Strahl

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Administrative assistant Kate Strahl has held the same position at the school since it opened 15 years ago. While Strahl said that in the field of education everything will adapt to some extent, her role has remained mostly the same over time. 

     “It’s really neat when I’ve been here so long in this same place that people are just expecting that this is my spot,” Strahl said. “It’s nice to be the constant here.” 

     While Strahl said she found comfort in the familiarity of her role, certain moments in the school’s history were particularly exciting for her. 

     “Nothing really tops the very first day of school when we opened in 2008,” Strahl said.   “The excitement and sense of community was so remarkable. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was something special, and we were grateful to be a small part of it.” 

 

Shane Taylor

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Science teacher Shane Taylor has mainly taught Physics throughout his teaching career. Though Taylor has been teaching for 28 years, the subject has been a constant during his 15 years at the school too. 

     “I’m kind of a physics guy,” Taylor said. “I really taught that for most of 28 years. It’s what makes the world go round.” 

     Besides a passion for his subject matter, Taylor also valued the chance teaching gave him to see many students grow. He’s taught and coached all three of his daughters. Outside of his own family, Taylor has received wedding invitations, baby announcements and had more than 600 Facebook friends who were former students. 

     “It’s been so cool to watch those kids grow up,” Taylor said. 

     Taylor said one of his favorite students was who he named his third daughter, Katy after. While Tayor had had an impact on many of his students, certain ones impacted his life as well. 

Tracy Resseguie

Elyse Bredfeldt

     Since the school opened, choir director Tracy Resseguie has been building the program. Despite the challenges that came with creating a new program, Resseguie found the recognition his choirs received on a large scale rewarding. 

     “It was the opportunity to build a program that was highly respected from around the world,” Resseguie said. “Different countries, not just the state of Missouri.” 

     Resseguie shared that his choir group of 2011 and 2013 stood out to him, as those were the years when the choir traveled abroad to perform in Norway and Ireland, respectively. 

     While Ressegugie said that those were memories he valued, one that was most special to him was a memory he made with a former coach prior to his retirement. Reseguie said that he would often come into the choir room after football practice to listen to their rehearsals.

     “One of his last days I said, ‘Hey, what are your favorite wins?’ He just started from the beginning and started talking about the big wins,” Resseguie said. “But then he looked at me at the end and he goes, ‘Every kid I’m talking about was a choir kid.’ It was something we were doing together. It was about working with friends to create the best version of a student that could happen.” 

     Though Resseguie said it was his last year before retirement, it didn’t feel as if he’d been here for more than a decade. 

     “I’m surprised at how fast it’s gone,” Resseguie said. “I guess when you love something as much as you love it, it goes by pretty quick.” 

David Wilson

     Physical Education teacher and head baseball coach David Wilson has been with the school for each step of its journey. 

     “Over the course of 15 years, you see a lot of change,” Wilson said. “Every milestone or everything that’s happened at the school, I’ve been there.” 

     Similar to the growth Wilson saw in the school itself, Wilson had also seen progress from many of his students and players. 

     “When you see kids set goals in life, and you watch them go on and accomplish them, that’s really exciting,” Wilson said. 

     While the advancement of students and the school both held special meaning to Wilson, there were also lighthearted moments that meant a lot to him over the years.  

     “One of the neatest days we ever had was when we went outside and watched the eclipse,” Wilson said. “We all had our glasses on. I look back to that day and just kind of laugh. That was really cool. I’ll never forget where I was when that happened.”