New Beginnings

Liberty High School has added numerous teachers to the staff.

2020 has not been what anyone had expected nonetheless, there are a lot of new experiences and firsts. This year at Liberty, there are a lot of new additions to our teaching staff. With the expansion of our school and growing population, Liberty needed to hire many more teachers to fill the needs for teaching our students. This has not been the easiest transition for these teachers bouncing between hybrid to online, but they have taken on the challenge.

Olivia Symmonds is a new teacher in the science department. She teaches biology, ESL sciences, and is also the drama director. Symmonds previously taught at West Liberty for the past five years. Symmonds attended the University of Iowa and graduated there before teaching. Symmonds has really enjoyed her teaching experience at Liberty. 

“It’s always hard to start somewhere new where you don’t know anyone, especially at such a big school! But students and staff alike have been wonderful and welcoming,” she said.

It is hard enough to be a new teacher at a large school, and with all of the off-site learning, it makes it even more difficult. Switching back and forth between hybrid and online is a struggle.

 “It was very hard at the beginning of the year! Not knowing any students and not getting to see or hear most people on Zoom was tough– it’s much better now that we all know each other,” Symmonds explained.

Although it was difficult to build relationships at the beginning of the school year with the students, Symmonds had no problems with meeting the staff. Her co-workers are her favorite part about her job at Liberty. 

Nick Carlo, new band teacher at Liberty

“I love my coworkers! The support and joy they offer, even when times are hard, has been invaluable,” said Symmonds

The music department gained a new teacher as well. Nick Carlo is a new band teacher here at Liberty. Carlo spent the last few years teaching at elementary schools in the Iowa City Community School District at schools such as Garner, Grant, and Kirkwood elementary. Prior to teaching in the Iowa City Community School District, he taught band for fifth graders through seniors at Winfield-Mt. Union near Mount Pleasant.

Carlo really enjoyed his previous jobs but needed a change. 

“I love teaching elementary bands, but was really missing that opportunity to rehearse music every day with older students, playing higher level music. My current position is half time at Liberty and half time at Garner, so it is the best of both worlds for me. The ability to do both levels of music really appealed to me, in addition to knowing how great the Liberty band program is from working in the district the last few years,” Carlo stated.

Even with the unfavorable circumstances, Carlo seems to be very satisfied with how things are going.

 “I really, really enjoy teaching at Liberty. The students are so polite and eager to learn and make music. With the COVID-19 situation, it has been amazing to see how the students and staff work together and persevere through the difficult aspects of online and hybrid learning,” he stated. “I can’t wait to be on the other side of this pandemic and have the ability to make music with the full group every day, and to be able to meet and interact with other staff members more personally, instead of through a screen!”

Yvonne Walters, new teacher at Liberty

Another new teacher here at Liberty is Yvonne Walters. Walters teaches health and Success Centers. She attended the University of Northern Iowa and taught in Des Moines and Washington before coming to Liberty. Walters has an interesting perspective on online schooling. 

“It is a challenge, but I believe that this experience has made me a better teacher. Every day we are all learning new things and being able to teach online is one of them.”

This year being like no other, Walters has had to take a different approach to building relationships with new students. 

“I like to get to know my students and find out their interests and I feel like being online and or Hybrid has thrown a wrench into that.  It has been a challenge, but I try everyday to make a connection with a student,” Walters stated. “My favorite part about teaching at Liberty is meeting new people and seeing the excitement within the school.  This school has so much support for each other and it is amazing.”

Not knowing when this all will get back to normal will be challenging, but these new teachers have embraced it. These are only three of the new teachers here at Liberty and we are pleased with what they have done already.