New faculty hired from around the globe

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Jerry Frizell, a newly hired campus supervisor, previously worked as a film editor for shows such as “Survivor” and “Beverly Hills, 90210,” as well as movies such as “Quantum Leap”. He, along with other new faculty members whose previous careers have taken them to places spanning from Singapore to South America, have been hired for the 2018-19 school year.

The new faculty members have been hired to replace Athletic Director Ann Petit, science teacher Ellen Chevalier, and Spanish teacher Michael Bolyog. Anastasia Kokiousis now teaches select science classes, Kathryn Klamecki now also coaches P.E., Jared Weintraub teaches math, Francisco Henning teaches Spanish II, Susan Verharen took over computer sciences, Debbie Goodnough is the athletic secretary, and Jerry Frizell works as a campus supervisor.


Alex Goldbeck/Talon and Caitlin Fowler/Talon
New teachers begin the school year by introducing their individual styles of curriculum to Oak Park students – Anastasia Kokiousis

Additionally, Tim Chevalier has taken over for Ann Pettit as Athletic Director, math teacher Brianne Hazlewood is the director for Life Skills, World History and Economics teacher D.J. Cook is teaching AP Psychology, and science teacher Yukako Kawakatsu has taken over for Ellen Chevalier, who was accepted as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for the district.

The process of selecting new faculty members to join Oak Park High School takes place when a faculty member leaves or retires, as is most often the case. First, the school “flies the position” by posting the open position on Edjoin, a website dedicated to “online recruitment for education in the United States.” The opening will also be posted on the district website. The posting  includes a job description and its requirements; for instance, campus supervisor descriptions include examples of duties, employment standards and working conditions.

Then, as applicants begin to flow in, the school holds what is known as a “paper screening” in which those in charge of hiring new staff sift through the applications at the district office, similar to college admissions processes. They then pick the top number of people to be interviewed based on application screenings. Later, interviews with people within the department are conducted and the top applicant is then offered the position; if they decide to take it, they’re hired for the next school year.

“[The applicant] will have to go through clearance — the Department of Justice background check, fingerprints, TB [Tuberculin skin test]. If it’s a coaching permission they need to get a coaching certification: CPR, first aid, and all that,” Principal Kevin Buchanan said. “With Ms. Goodnough and the athletic department, we had an opportunity to try her out…we got a chance to put her in the position and scope her out when Ms. Sterling was out for surgery for a couple of months.”

A small amount of applicants are then selected to perform a lesson demo, where they show how they relate to kids and how well they can teach a class. Then, students give their feedback; this information is used to assess how suited the applicants are for the position.

Tim Chevalier, who has taken over as athletic director, has also had previous experience at other schools within the Oak Park Unified School District.

Alex Goldbeck/Talon and Caitlin Fowler/Talon
New teachers begin the school year by introducing their individual styles of curriculum to Oak Park students – Susan Verharen

“I have been teaching for 12 years. I have been a coach for basketball and baseball during those years. I have been in administration as Dean at MCMS for two years and I have been principal and program coordinator of the Oak Park Education Foundation summer school program for the last 10 years,” Chevalier wrote to the Talon. “I have worked in many fields that have included athletics in one way, shape or form my entire career. Those experiences have given me the experience, skills, and abilities to now serve as one of the Athletic Directors for Oak Park High School.”

After growing up in Venezuela, Spanish II teacher Francisco Henning attended California Lutheran University and taught in places such as India for two years, Singapore for three years, and Ventura County for a year.

“Every place is unique, and every school is different,” Henning said. “I study many languages. I wouldn’t say I speak fluently, but I study French, English, Spanish of course, a little bit of Italian and Portuguese.”


Alex Goldbeck/Talon and Caitlin Fowler/Talon
New teachers begin the school year by introducing their individual styles of curriculum to Oak Park students – Francisco Henning

P.E. coach Kathryn Klamecki is looking forward to becoming more involved on the high school campus as both a coach and a teacher.

“I have been coaching as an assistant coach for about five years at OPHS, but am excited to take on a bigger role. I have been teaching at MCMS for the last couple years and now get the opportunity to have classes at both sites,” Klamecki wrote to the Talon.

After graduating from University of California, Santa Barbara, Algebra II teacher Jared Weintraub taught for two years in southern Los Angeles in a program that assigned teachers to work in underprivileged areas.

“I traveled in South America for a while, used up all my money, came back home, and decided ‘well, I need money.’ So, I took a master’s program at [California State University] Dominguez Hills and did two years of teaching in south L.A., as well as five years at LACES, which is the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies,” Weintraub said. “I also got married last year, and my wife and I moved out here.”

Alex Goldbeck/Talon and Caitlin Fowler/Talon
New teachers begin the school year by introducing their individual styles of curriculum to Oak Park students – Jared Weintraub


According to Buchanan, the rate at which teachers either leave for reasons of dissatisfaction or are fired are fairly low.

“In the past we’ve lost teachers because their spouse has gotten a great job in another state, so they’ll have to move their family, but I don’t believe people leave us because they’re dissatisfied or because it’s not a great place to work or teach,” Buchanan said. “You can tell by the veteran faculty members,  who’ve been here for years and years… for the most part once they’re here, unless something life-changing happens to them, they’re here to stay for a while.”

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