Friday, August 18, 2017

Faces of 501: Kyle Morris

Faces of 501: Kyle Morris

Kyle Morris, is starting his third year teaching 8th grade science at Jardine Middle School. In his former career Morris was a broadcast meteorologist working at television stations Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Kansas. After working as, a substitute teacher for three Topeka school districts and as a program developer in the education department at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, he joined the transition to teaching program through Fort Hays State University. Morris is currently preparing a lesson plan for the total solar eclipse on Monday. 


“When I was a meteorologist I was able to study in more detail the sciences while also practicing public speaking and performance. My background prepared me for the ability to keep young minds better engaged through that performance and my former career always seems to spark interest and curiosity. I can give them real world information from my experiences of working in science and that initial interest and curiosity can always be used as a jumping off point to work into other science content areas. Science is about asking your own questions and trying to discover the answer yourself. The students are going to view the eclipse while filling out a guided worksheet. This will allow them to observe the eclipse and try to come up with answers to their own observations. We have also included cross-curriculum opportunities with elements of math through percentages and graphs, and language arts with creative writing. I’ve been preparing for collaboration with the entire middle school science department in the district, and then creating the details with the science team at my school. This is an opportunity for students to really experience science in the real world through an event that does not happen often.  I remember being in school during the 1994 annular solar eclipse in Kansas. So I'm really curious as to the observational differences will be during this eclipse. Planning for it was not the most fun, but I think we have developed something that will increase learning and allow the students to fully experience the event in their own ways. The excitement and interest that this event could create in students to me is really exciting.

“Teaching middle school, it's not as bad as people tend to think. It can be challenging, but the students are at a unique stage where they are transitioning from a child into their teenage years. They still have a bit of innocence hidden behind their attempt to look mature. I get to experience the youthful ignorance with the development of personalities and it can be a lot of fun. I want them to learn the material I am teaching along with all other subjects, but more importantly I hope they develop in their decision making. Even if they never remember what an index fossil is, or the difference between a base and an acid, I want them to have developed the skills that it took to learn and discover the content. The content is important, but not as much as the development their brains go through when actively participating in science.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Faces of 501: Sgt. Gary Williams


Faces of 501: Sgt. Gary Williams 

Topeka Public Schools Police Officer Sgt. Gary Williams has worked for the district since Aug. 2014. In addition to his work at Highland Park High School he is a member of the Kansas Air National Guard's 190th Refueling Wing, Williams will leave for deployment with the 190th on Aug. 28 

“The good part about working for Topeka Public Schools is the overall positive attitude. Just about every day, I get to come to HPHS, and be greeted by smiling faces!  Students and staff alike! Also the school hours are fantastic. Having been in public service all my life, I have rarely had a "regular" schedule.  I love being home in the evenings, as I don't feel like I'm missing out on life anymore. When I'm not working, I'm usually working! I have two young children, and of course they occupy most of my off duty time. On top of family, I've been a member of the 190th Security Forces Squadron at Forbes Field for 20 years. I have enjoyed my career at the 190th, and have no plans to retire anytime soon. Who knows, at this point I might try to do 30 years!  The other huge part of my life is teaching self-defense. I have a 1st Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, which lead me to understand I needed to learn other stuff to augment that system.  So I went out and learned boxing, and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Those things lead me to fighting in MMA. I'm not sure if I'm going to fight anymore, but I will teach self-defense, and firearms for the rest of my life.


“I tell students to always get all the information you can before making a decision. Every day I see students at the school making decisions based on limited information. A lot of that is youth, and only seeing what you want to see. When the opportunity arises, and it often does, I tell students to gather as much information as you can, before you make a decision. I don't care what the topic is, gather the information from all sources, and make that decision based on your values, and the facts at hand.”