The new teachers reported to duty last Thursday and have been busy preparing their lessons and classrooms for the first day of school. Key West welcomes a new principal and four instructors, two of whom have called the southernmost city their nome for more than a dozen years.
Elizabth Ford, English
Students enrolled in Mrs. Ford’s English classes will be pounding the pages this year. The former librarian and returning educator said there will be “lots of reading and writing,” and will be exposing the students to a character driven war story by Tim O’Brien, classic Shakespeare, and the Lord of the Flies.
“I would like to help the students move themselves along no matter where they are academically,” she said. Originally, from Connecticut, Ford moved to the Keys in 1997 and has a five-year-old daughter who will start kindergarten next week. Her credentials include a graduate degree from FSU, and teaching stints at the PACE Center for Girls, and her daughter’s pre-school.
Alida Miller, Science
She teaches Integrated Science and Biology and says chalkboards and textbooks are the wrong way to teach science.
“You can have fun while you are learning,” said recent Keys transplant Alida Miller. “When they walk out my door at the end of the year, I want them to love science and they usually do.”
Hailing from upstate New York, Miller served in the U.S. Air Force, earned (2) associates, one bachelor, and one graduate degree before finally landing her dream job in the Florida Keys.
“I am about fishing, diving, and snorkeling and I hate to sound cliché, but its paradise,” she said. While her oldest son continues his collegiate career in Orlando, Miller will be spending her free time with her youngest son who will enter his first year at Key West High School as a junior. Her lesson plans for this year include growing plants and graphing the progress, experimenting with hot air balloons, and creating DNA pets (pictured).
Pam Smith, Exceptional Student Education
“I am a support facilitator for students who need me,” said the Georgian native and former college basketball player Pam Smith. “I want my kids to learn how to present themselves in a manner that they can go out into the world and get jobs.”
The challenge of developing exceptional students is not her only concern this year; Smith is also the girl’s varsity basketball coach. “The team is looking great,” she said “A lot of talent coming back.”
Upon earning her degree in Georgia, Smith taught school through her 20s and then moved to Key West in 1997. She spent the next 12 years bartending – which she admits was very difficult career for an athlete. Earlier this summer she traveled to Sweden to participate in the Stockholm Marathon. The Key West basketball team is going to run their opponents into the ground this year.
Casey Henderson, Functional Skills (Profoundly Handicapped)
“They have disabilities and different issues, but sometimes they’re the happiest people ever. Teaching them is something I really love and enjoy. I’ve been working with them all through my life. I volunteered at the elementary, high school, and college level. It’s my passion.”
Florida Atlantic University graduate, Casey Henderson, is entering her fourth year teaching, her first year at KWHS. She moved from Broward County and plans on taking her students into the community to help them become as independent as possible. Casey is single and possesses two other passions besides teaching— cooking, she calls her “fallback,” and horses.
“I really enjoy working with animals. I rode horses for a long time. I used to do ‘horses for the handicap.’ I love incorporating these two loves together.”
Instead of horses, Casey currently is the mother to two Great Dances, Dutch, and Jasmine.