"I Am St. Francis"
The Teacher Perspective: Five Questions for Mr. Mike Harper and Mrs. Ashley Lynch
1. During your tenure at SFHS, what have you taught, moderated, coached?
Mr. Harper: Social Studies Teacher: APUSH, APGOV, USH1, 2 and 3, World History, Political Science, Landmark Supreme Court Rulings;
Social Studies Department Chair, Athletic Director, Varsity Boys Basketball Head Coach, Varsity Baseball Head Coach, Girls Tennis Coach, Boys Tennis Coach
Mrs. Lynch: I have taught Algebra 1, Geometry, Honors Geometry, and AP Statistics. I am the Sophomore Math Team coach.
2. How would your students describe your teaching philosophy/style? How have you had to adjust in this pandemic while keeping high expectations of your students?
Mr. Harper: I ask questions for 42 minutes and the students answer them. As the answers build on the theme we are discussing, we create an outline of notes together. We function in a very relaxed atmosphere. Our current circumstances have forced my hand to learn and utilize new technology. Thankfully, due primarily to A LOT of help from our IT Department, Jeff Gerdeman, Paul Johnson, James Quinn, Tim Martens and colleagues willing to help me beginning with Christine Paolella last Spring, Brandon Lewis and my Department Chair Robin Schroeder, I have been able to use Microsoft Teams and an in class camera that combined have allowed me to pretty much continue to teach the way I always have.
My classes meet every day whether in person or remotely. I teach mostly AP courses and the expectations remain the same.
Mrs. Lynch: I think my students would describe my style as inclusive, flexible, and fun. I really try to allow everyone to have a voice and to reach everyone I can. I also think Math should be an exciting part of their day! I have been teaching synchronously to adjust to the pandemic and still keep up the rigor in my classes. Using Microsoft Teams has been so incredibly helpful in allowing me to see all my students every day, not just twice a week, through our video conferences.
I try to use technology as gracefully as I can and only use what will benefit my classroom and my students. Right now, there is SO much out there as far as tools for e-learning goes and it can be tough to sift through it all. I try to keep things simple, using Teams and OneNote every day and occasionally using other sites for videos or quick assessments. I think this helps my students focus on what they’re supposed to be learning—math! —and simplifies their learning experience so they concentrate on the content.
3. Why do you choose to teach at SFHS?
Mr. Harper: I am a Catholic and believe in Catholic education. I have recently realized that I have entered a Catholic school most every day for 53 years. The level of community and personal relationships is unmatched. Especially here at St. Francis.
Mrs. Lynch: There are so many reasons why I love SFHS, but a big one is the community it creates. I feel so supported and loved by all my colleagues, not to mention the students that come here are so incredible and kind. I love being able to walk down the hallway and know almost every student’s name.
4. Describe an experience that occurred recently (within the last year) that illustrates what you believe SFHS is all about.
Mr. Harper: The sacrifices that the faculty has been willing to accept and continue to work thru in the midst of our current circumstances. And the incredibly positive response of our students when so much has been taken away from them.
Mrs. Lynch: When the pandemic first hit and we all were quarantined at home, I really felt how special St. Francis was. We all still tried to ensure that the special moments and traditions of our school lived on, even if in a different way. Just to name a few moments that stood out, I remember especially well was getting flowers delivered to my home to honor our annual Transition Mass for Senior homeroom teachers, having the privilege of delivering Senior signs to my students, and getting a Teacher Appreciation sign personally delivered to my door by Principal Raeann Huhn.
5. What is one word you would use to describe your feeling toward St. Francis High School?
Mr. Harper: Identity/Lifetime
Mrs. Lynch: It’s a basic one, but still so true—blessed. I truly love St. Francis and all that it is. I feel so blessed to be a part of this wonderful community.