BUCYRUS — Wynford Local Schools welcomes four new teachers at its elementary and high schools this year, as the district continues to work toward its goal of earning an excellent rating for the Ohio Achievement and Ohio Graduation Test.
According to preliminary results, district-wide, the schools met 22 of 26 indicators last school year, while the high school and junior high school both received excellent ratings for the second year straight. Of the 19 academic areas tested in grades three through 10, scores increased from the previous year in 12 areas, while scores decreased in seven areas, according to Superintendent Steve Mohr in the district’s latest newsletter.
The Ohio Department of Education has put off releasing official results while an investigation is conducted after some school districts were accused of altering attendance records to improve test scores.
The district continues to strive toward earning an excellent rating with new teachers Michael Haynes at the elementary school and Taylor Bahm, Billy Banta and Shauna Hurles at the high school.
Michael Haynes joins Wynford’s staff as an elementary physical education teacher for preschool through third grade. The 1999 Mohawk High School graduate also will be an assistant boys basketball coach.
Haynes is a 2004 graduate of Ohio Northern University with a degree in health and physical education.
He spent one year teaching at Mohawk and one year at Hopewell-Loudon as an intervention specialist before taking over as athletic director and head basketball coach at Bettsville High School for three years. While there, Haynes also taught health and physical education.
He said he realized in high school that he wanted to become an educator.
“I was in a teacher’s program in high school where we used to go out to the elementary schools and teach classes,” he said. “I enjoyed working with little kids.”
Haynes said he hopes his students will learn to set goals related to health and physical education in his classes this year. Another goal Haynes has set for himself is to learn all of his students’ names.
“I have a lot of kids,” he said.
He is most looking forward to “having fun with the kids,” who he said are usually excited to go to gym class.
New freshman English teacher Taylor Bahm is a 2007 graduate of Bucyrus High School and a 2011 graduate of Miami University with a degree in English education. Bahm was hired at the school board’s June meeting as a long-term substitute for English teacher Erin Hepner, who is on a one year leave of absence.
Bahm said she has wanted to become a teacher for as long as she can remember.
“The first time I ever have documentation of (wanting to be a teacher) is in second grade,” Bahm said. “It’s just one of those things where I fell in love with a teacher using a pointer and us singing the alphabet. That was the reason I wanted to be a teacher in the second grade; (it) was to get a cool pointer like she had. Then I switched, but I always knew I wanted to work with people.”
During her freshman and sophomore years of high school, Bahm realized again she wanted to become an educator. She spent last school year substitute teaching at Bucyrus City Schools and Wynford Local Schools.
“I was blessed to have the opportunity to do long-term (substitute teaching) at Wynford from March until the end of the school year,” Bahm said. “… That was very nice to end and then begin (the school year at Wynford).”
She was in charge of the freshman English class last year, as well.
Bahm said she is looking forward to getting to know her students.
“It’s always a unique experience because (freshmen are) coming up from eighth grade, so they’re with their little modular in the back and this is the first encounter that they get with the high school experience,” she said. “I get them when they’re shell-shocked, kind of nervous, (but) excited at the same time.
“It’s always great to see their maturity,” Bahm added. “I love to get them as freshmen to see the potential that they have and help them work with it.”
Bahm said she is looking forward to helping students find their strengths in relation to language arts, as well as acknowledge their capabilities inside the classroom.
“That’s such an exciting thing that I’m very blessed with because I get to see them for four years straight,” she said. “It’s a fun experience to build those relationships for not just one year, but four years.”
As the instructor of the high school’s newspaper and yearbook classes, Bahm shared her excitement about getting students involved in the writing process.
“It’s a newspaper-slash-journalism class, so we don’t actually publish until probably November because the students need a foundation of, what is journalism? How did journalism start? What do journalists do?” Bahm said. “And then they’ll start producing work that really gets Wynford excited about different things, whether it be sporting events, whether it be the recycling that we have to offer, whether it be clubs … doing some awesome things around the community. We just really want to make everyone aware of the greatness that comes out of Wynford.”
With eight students, Bahm said she hopes the group will be able to publish every two to three weeks once her students become “invested in their writing.”
“Not too much to overwhelm the students, but enough to keep everyone up-to-date about everything that’s going on around the school,” Bahm said. “I think (history of journalism is) really important. I took some journalism classes in college and I thought, once I understood the history of journalism and muckraking and all that kind of stuff, that it helped me become a better writer and really take on different styles and learn that you can write different styles in journalism. It’s not just one story. It’s important that they understand that.”
The high school’s yearbook class is made up of 12 students who will spend much of the year learning about advertising, as each student is responsible to raise at least $6,000 in advertisements from businesses in the area.
“They take on a lot and then they’re required to take the pictures at the sporting events and at the club activities or anything like that,” Bahm said. “They’re invested not only in the classroom, but outside as well. … It is their project. I am strictly there to advise. I’m not there to instruct; I’m there to advise and if they have questions, I’m there to help them.”
Although many first-year teachers are nervous for their debut at school, Bahm said Wynford Local Schools is where she is “at home.”
“I’m very blessed to have a job,” she said.
New Wynford High School social studies teacher Billy Banta is a 2001 graduate of Bellefontaine High School and a 2009 graduate of the University of Findlay, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in construction management. After spending about two years in that field, he felt it was time for a change.
That is when Banta went back to school to become licensed in adolescent and young adult social studies education and made the change to becoming a teacher.
“(Social studies) was my favorite subject in school,” Banta said. “I did construction management for a couple years; it just wasn’t me, so I decided to go back and get my (license) for history.”
Banta, who also is the new high school cross country coach, spent three years substitute teaching primarily in the Bucyrus, Wynford, Mohawk and Riverdale school districts. He said he hopes those experiences will help him to become a better educator.
“I’ve got a good idea of what I want to do just because of subbing and practicing and figuring out what worked and what didn’t work,” he said. “The big goal is just to get through the first year with the least amount of roadblocks as possible.”
Although he knew construction management was not the job for him more than one year into the job, Banta said he did not immediately realize his passion was teaching.
“Just the passion. … I didn’t have passion,” he said.
Wynford High School graduate Shauna Hurles returns to her alma mater this year as a new teacher, as Hurles is the new seventh and ninth grade special education teacher. The 2007 WHS graduate received a bachelor’s degree in special education intervention from Bluffton University in 2011.
This year, she has 13 students in the two grades, although she is licensed to teach special education in kindergarten through 12th grades.
Two Wynford High School teachers, Amy Taylor-Sheldon and Tim Ehresman, inspired Hurles to become an educator, she said.
“I really enjoyed their classes and ever since then, I wanted to become a teacher,” Hurles said, adding she wanted to become an optometrist when she was in junior high because “I wanted to make money.”
“But you find your passion once you get a little bit older,” Hurles added.
Hurles’ goals for this year include helping the students improve in the subject of reading and honoring everyday successes.
“Just small successes of every day — being organized, making sure they have all of their homework in,” she said. “Just celebrate the small stuff.”
One of the biggest challenges of the year will be getting to know the students, Hurles said, because she has a new group of ninth grade students and seventh grade students who are coming in from the elementary school.
Hurles will do co-teaching in the seventh grade math and language arts classes and in the ninth grade English class.
“There’s no resource room; just tutoring,” she said.
By ALISSA PAOLELLA