Teachers Reflect on 40 Years of FHS
By Josh D.
After having recognized the golden anniversary of 40 years, Fredericton High School teachers remember their own experiences and consider an improved future for the school.
Carolyn Barnhart is a chemistry and environmental science teacher at FHS who also graduated from the school. She said her drive to become a teacher was her love for science, and how she wanted to share that love. When given the opportunity to teach anywhere in District 18, Barnhart said FHS was her choice.
“I never thought I would be teaching in a big school,” she said. “[I] thought my entire career would be in a small town or village community school.”
Barnhart graduated from FHS with her sights set on Environmental Law. She explained how the average student’s behavior has changed since then.
“It is shocking what students say and do,” she said. “[I] never heard the ‘f-bomb’ when I was a student.” The number of pupils that disrespect and rudely talk back to teachers has increased quite a fair amount, according to Barnhart.
“You did not skip [or] come late,” she explains.
Barnhart described the atmosphere of FHS, back when she was a student, to be rich with school spirit and pride. During this time, Leo Hayes High School had not yet been built.
“There was only one school – no north side/south side rivalry,” she said. “We were all citizens of FHS.”
Another, recently new, citizen of Fredericton High School is our principal, Shane Thomas, who has been working in the educational system for over 25 years. It was a journey through different types of teaching jobs, from mathematics to science to vice principal, before Thomas made it to where he is today.
“I wanted experience in all of these courses so I could recognize the issues and struggles teachers were having in their courses,” he explained. “So I could offer support – saying, ‘I know what you’re talking about.’”
According to Thomas, his experience at FHS has been very good. He said that we have our own unique culture, keeping our traditions alive opposed to other schools. But being in charge of such a large school has its downsides. He explained how his job is kind of like that of a C.E.O. or manager instead of an educational leader.
In general, a lot has changed in high schools in the past couple of decades.
“When I attended school in the 70’s, students didn’t have as many opportunities to succeed,” Thomas said. An example he gave was that if a student were to miss a test for any reason, they would automatically receive a mark of zero.
“Parents weren’t very involved in school,” he added. “[But now] technology connects them to us.” Thomas feels that it is important to know that a strong community can enhance the overall learning experience. “Society changes education,” he explains.
Like any other school, FHS will continue to take advantage of the new opportunities our world offers us to improve our teaching methods. According to Thomas, our school is far behind other high schools, such as Leo Hayes High School, in terms of technology being incorporated into our classes.
“To increase the value of our learning, we need to increase our capabilities to utilize current technology with our lessons,” Thomas said. “With the internet, you can expand your knowledge.”
In order to have this kind of equipment in our school, such as free wireless internet and laptops, we would need to update our entire infrastructure, said Thomas. This would include a complete rewiring of the school to install wireless internet hotspots. This kind of job will require a large amount of money that is not available, Thomas adds.
“It will take a lot of time for people to accept it,” he said about incorporating new technology in our schools. “It will open up more avenues for education.”