Check in with first time teachers

Not only have freshman made it through their first year of high school, but so have four of Liberty’s newest staff. After four years of training, each of them dove back into high school with a renewed passion. That begs the question: what has it been like to return to high school as a teacher?

Emily Bassett and Caitlyn Croppi

Natalie Gress

“I come into work every day excited,” Natalie Gress said. After four years at Seattle Pacific University, Gress is back at Liberty (her alma mater) to teach sophomore and freshman English. “I know it kind of seems like I peaked in high school since I’m back teaching here, but I can honestly say that I love it here.”
In addition to working full-time here, she also leads the theater program at Skyline High School. “I’m passionate about theater, and I definitely try to bring aspects of that love into my classroom, particularly in the Shakespeare units,” Gress said. “I would highly recommend teaching to those who are interested, but know that you’re going to make mistakes and accept that,” Gress said. “It’s all part of the learning process.”

Holly Matteson

“I love learning, so teaching seemed like the obvious path for me,” Holly Matteson said. Even though she may be more experienced than teachers who are fresh out of college, Matteson began her first teaching job this year at Liberty, teaching sophomore and senior English.
“I love that Liberty is such a community-driven school. It’s small enough that I can make meaningful connections with all of my students, which is extremely important to me,” Matteson said. Since her main goal is to foster the love of learning that she has in her students, Matteson tries to stay down-to-earth with them: “I know I’m just one person and I can’t aspire to change the world, but if I can impact even one student, then I will have personally succeeded.”

Joan King

“I tried to come in with no expectations,” Joan King said about her first year teaching.
Now teaching sophomore literature, American literature, and Film as Literature, King feels like she’s had a diverse taste of the Liberty student body. Additionally, last year she was a student-teacher. “What was so great about my semester here last year is that it really gave me great connections and support groups in the other English teachers of liberty,” King said.
A problem she has stumbled upon this year is not working too much. “I’m constantly thinking about grading, even in the shower! I’m trying to learn how to leave work at work, creating a balance between spending time with my family and spending time with grading.”

Madison Lakey

“My favorite part about teaching is making connections with students,” Madison Lakey said. Fresh out of college, Lakey took a job at Liberty with teaching Spanish 2. “It’s such an amazing feeling when you see your students grow and develop, from the beginning to the end of the year, I love it so much,” Lakey said. She’s thankful to have such strong support in the other teachers and believes that being a teacher isn’t a one-man job; it takes a group of teachers to build off of each other.
“The Liberty community of staff, students, and everyone far and inbetween is a blessing to have in my first year of being a teacher, everyone has helped me so much and has made me way more confident in my teaching skills,” Lakey said.