School welcomes new teachers and staff members for the 2023-2024 school year

School welcomes new teachers and staff members for the 2023-2024 school year

JagWire staffers interviewed each of these 16 people about their background, goals for the school and more
Newly hired school psychologist Stacy Miller poses with Lego flowers she and her son built together Monday, Sep. 4. “[They] remind me of our shared interest in Legos and how much I love my kids,” Miller said.
School psychologist Stacy Miller hopes to be known by students

Mill Valley News: What was your previous job before coming to Mill Valley?

Stacy Miller: I was a school psychologist at Olathe Public Schools and I worked at Pioneer Trail Middle School and Olathe East High School.

MVN: What made you want to become a school psychologist?

SM: So that was a fun journey. I initially wanted to be a clinical psychologist and at KU I studied eating disorders and had a whole plan to go get my PhD in clinical psychology and was accepted into a program. That was my passion, teenage through college, and it just didn’t feel right. By the time I graduated, I had had different experiences and it just didn’t feel right. So I became a paraeducator in Blue Valley in a behavior classroom. I loved being able to use my psychology knowledge and skill set and be in an education setting and be around kids all the time. In a clinical setting you see a person once a week or if you’re lucky, more than that, but in a school you can see someone every single day. I realized that I wanted to blend my love of psychology with my love of education. 

MVN: Other than that, tell me more about your background: where you grew up, what your college journey was like.

SM: I grew up here. It’s kind of funny. I never thought I would end up back in the high school I graduated from. I went to Monticello Kindergarten, that’s a house now, and Woodsonia, that’s Walmart and I went to MT, then here. I went to KU for psychology and then I went to Baylor University for graduate school. I went there because I wanted warmer weather and they had a really great program. So I was able to not only do school psychology, I also had a bunch of training in ABA, applied behavior analysis. So I had a dual certification by the time I graduated from there. My husband was in the military, so I actually started my career in North Carolina. I was there for a couple of years, and then in Olathe for eight, so this is my 11th year.

MVN: What do you like to do in your free time?

SM: I’m a mom of three, so my free time is whatever my kids need me to do, but I also love reading. I read a lot and I found a love for audiobooks. So I like to listen when I’m getting ready or in the car or I’m doing laundry. I usually have an audio book going and try to read whenever there’s any spare time.

MVN: That’s cool. What type of books or genres do you like to read?

SM: I like thrillers, mystery, romance and historical fiction.

MVN: What are you most excited about at Mill Valley?

SM: I am most excited about connecting with the students. I I loved where I worked in Olathe, but my caseload was so big that I spent all of my time with special education and I feel like this is an opportunity for me to get to know kids that are not in special education and do not have IEP. I’m going to help with Scholar’s Bowl. I want to make an impact. I want to really get to know the students and I want to be known by the students and [not that] behind the scenes person that school psychs typically are. I feel like this is a building that’s gonna allow me the opportunity to make, hopefully, a really big impact.

MVN: Tell me about Scholar’s Bowl. How’d you get involved in that this year?

SM: Well, they needed a sponsor and my husband was in Quiz Bowl. I mentioned the idea to him and he was like, “you should do it,” and I was like, “I’m really terrible at trivia.” That’s not really my strength. So, I found out that Mrs. Keith also wanted to do it and so we’re figuring it out together.  I’m super excited to be involved with it and learn more about it and have that opportunity. 

MVN: What else should students know about you?

SM: I feel like I’m pretty fun to talk to. I’m pretty good at listening, but I’m also pretty good at problem solving. I feel like most students who walk out of here have a good idea of what they could do or how to make a situation better or feel like they were heard. I feel like even though school psychologists aren’t always the most visible person, because a lot of times we’re busy with paperwork or meetings or evaluations, we do have a really wide skill set as a psychologist to also be able to handle mental health or social skills or any of the other topics that students may need help with.

MVN: Tell me about an item in your office that is important to you, that you keep here, that has some significance.

SM: I’m a very sentimental person, so I feel like almost everything has significance. I mean, one of my favorite things I’d probably say are the Legos that I built up there. My son is really into Legos, so we built them together. I was mostly having to stop him from doing it for me because he loves them so much, but that just reminds me of our shared interest in Legos and how much I love my kids. It goes with my theme of all my other fake flowers which is an added benefit.

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Newly hired school psychologist Stacy Miller poses with Lego flowers she and her son built together Monday, Sep. 4. “[They] remind me of our shared interest in Legos and how much I love my kids,” Miller said. (By Emma Clement)
Gifted facilitator Michele Brown sits at her desk with her lamp Wednesday, Sep. 6. I walked by [the lamp] at Kohls years ago and Ive had it on my desk forever and its just that kids find it endlessly amusing, Brown said.
Gifted facilitator Michele Brown enters 20th year in gifted education

Mill Valley News: What was your previous job before coming to Mill Valley?

Michele Brown: Gifted Facilitator

MVN: How long have you been in just this career being a gifted facilitator and in education? 

MB: Technically 20 

MVN: What made you want to become a gifted facilitator?

MB: Oh my gosh, that’s a long story. My dad has 12 patents to his name [and] is just a bright guy and probably was a gifted kid in school, but I never really thought about it. I like learning outside of school more than in school. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as giftedness until when I had my kids. … When I moved here I took a job in Shawnee Mission as a para and I ended up as a gifted para and I went “oh, this is a whole new world and this is just fascinating,” and that was it. I worked at like 15 schools in Shawnee Mission filling in as a gifted para and then that’s when I got my certification. I used to tell my kids that I’ve taught gifted since dinosaurs roamed the earth because I taught it longer than anybody else. Everybody’s like, “how can you do this so long?” … I think if you have an affinity for something, that’s what you need to do because so few people do.

MVN: Where did you grow up and where did you go to college?

MB: I grew up in Gardner, Kansas, which is a small town outside of Wichita. I went to college, originally I went to Wichita State, and then I went to have a business degree from there. I got my teaching credentials from Ottawa University and then I went to KU. I have hours from just about every college around here.

MVN: What do you like to do in your free time?

MB: I like to work out, run, walk, exercise. I guess that’s all one thing. I read [and hang] out with my grandson’s family.

MVN: What have you liked most about MV so far this year?

MB: The positive atmosphere especially this year seems like and people are so welcoming. Seems kind of like a small town community. I like that.

MVN: What else should students know about you?

MB: I probably agree with them more often than they think I do. [For] a lot of things, we’re on the same page. I understand where you guys are coming from. I was that kid that never studied either until I got to high school. [If you] never had to study until you get to high school, then you have to figure it out real quick. I get that. It’s not your fault. My analogy is you have to have a bicycle to know how to ride one. You’ve never needed to have those study skills, so of course you don’t have them. That’s kind of my pet peeve. They don’t know how to do this, you’ve never required that they learn those skills.

MVN: Tell me about an item at your desk that is important to you or has some significance or meaning.

MB: My lamp. It’s just an impulse purchase. I walked by it at Kohl’s years ago and I’ve had it on my desk forever and it’s just that kids find it endlessly amusing. Some notes on there are from kids in the past. This one’s fascinating, I happened to look this girl up a couple of years ago because it was talking about her and she said she was a student teacher at that point. She never said she wanted to be a teacher, so I’m like, “wow, that’s interesting.”

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Gifted facilitator Michele Brown sits at her desk with her lamp Wednesday, Sep. 6. “I walked by [the lamp] at Kohl’s years ago and I’ve had it on my desk forever and it’s just that kids find it endlessly amusing,” Brown said. (By Emma Clement)
Standing in his classroom, art teacher Bryan Lloyd holds his mug.
Art teacher Bryan Lloyd hopes to share his love of creating with students

Mill Valley News: So, could you tell me about your background like where you grew up?

Bryan Lloyd: I grew up in Lenexa, Kansas, right by Oak Park Mall, and went to Catholic school then went to Shawnee Mission south. [I] found a love for art at Johnson County Community College, like summer classes for little kids. I always was drawn to art classes and being creative. 

MVN: What college did you go to?

BL: I went to Johnson County Community College for about a year and then KU for my bachelor’s. Then 10 years later, just a year ago, I got my master’s from KU. 

MVN: What was your favorite subject when you were in school?

 BL: Ceramics and pottery in high school was my all time favorite and that helped me pursue a career in arts.

MVN: What made you come to Mill Valley?

BL: I live in Kansas City, Kansas and I drove to Lawrence for seven years. So it had been on my long term goals to find a job where I could teach the content I want, ceramics, sculpture pottery, in a place that was a little closer to home. So I was not looking for a job, but my colleague and friends said, “hey, at Mill Valley, they will potentially have a ceramics position open next year, because a teacher is leaving and other teachers are moving to drawing, painting, and Intro to Art.” So the ceramics opened up and it was just the opportunity I was looking for.

 MVN: What was your previous job?

BL: I worked at Lawrence Free State High School and I taught ceramics, photo and Intro to Art there. I was there for seven years. Then I taught Catholic school, which was kindergarten through eighth grade, for four years. 

 MVN:How long have you been teaching?

BL: So it’s my 12th year teaching. I had to substitute teach for two years out of college, because in 2008, there was zero teaching jobs. It was a very difficult situation to have to substitute teach right out of college. That was kind of interesting.

MVN: Why did you decide to teach art?

BL: Well, I figured I wanted to do what I wanted to do for a career, that it was something I enjoyed. So I don’t want to make and sell artwork for other people. I want to make artwork, and kind of share that love of creating with other people. So a career in art education is a great career for someone that wants to make artwork, and not have the pressure of marketing, selling and being on all the time so that you can enjoy summer and weekends with your family and not have to sell, like maybe a normal artist would, or an artist that was making a living selling their artwork. I felt like that might take away the fun of it, to have to make it to sell it. Then you’re just a salesman.

MVN: Besides teaching, do you sponsor any school activities? Or would you want to?

BL: I am helping with the Art Club and National Art Honor Society. Erica Matyak is leading the art club and National Art Honor Society, so I’m helping her out a little bit with that. I’d love to help coach golf or to be involved in a potential service oriented club or organization that gives back to the community. That sort of thing appeals to me.

MVN: What is your favorite type of art to teach?

BL: Clay and ceramics. I love the pottery wheel. The pottery wheel is the most fun you can have at school, and that’s why I love it the most. It just is magnetic and even if you’re terrible at it, it’s still really fun.

MVN: What are your hobbies or what do you do in your free time?

BL: I have a garden and grow really hot peppers and I make hot sauce with those peppers. I also collect old Nintendo games from the late 80s, just because it reminds me of my childhood. It’s fun to look through old boxes and instruction manuals of old stuff you had when you were a kid. 

MVN: What are your goals that you have for art this year?

BL: I want to get into some competitions and try to have students in Mill Valley participate in art shows and things like that. So I want to get out into the community with art shows and competitions. Really, I want to try to build up what is already a strong program into an even stronger one. So one of my goals is to establish myself in the school and to set expectations high for what kind of art is possible to create in a high school classroom. So I really want to push students to achieve and create with visual art.

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Standing in his classroom, art teacher Bryan Lloyd holds his mug. (By Eva Hernandez)
Standing next to the American flag the hangs above his desk, Social Studies teacher Carter Sebasto holds a gong that he was given as a gift. Explaining the value of the gong, Sebasto said, I used to work with a guy who gave me that. He said that I needed it for school to keep the kids in line.
Social studies teacher Carter Sebasto is excited to pass along the impact that his teachers left on him

Mill Valley News Tell me about your background, where did you grow up, where did you go to college, etc?

Carter Sebasto: I grew up in Spring Hill, Kansas, which is 30 minutes south of here. I was there for my primary and secondary schooling. For post-secondary, I went to Johnson County Community College for a few years, then I took a semester of classes in San Diego Miramar, which is a community college in California. Then, I got my bachelor’s degree from Baker University.

MVN: What kind of hobbies do you have? What do you do in your free time?

CS: I really like running. I exercise frequently. I also just like to try out new restaurants. I spend time with my friends. I just got a new apartment so we’ve been using the pool a lot. I’m a pretty social person.

MVN: What previous jobs have you had? 

CS: When I first graduated from high school, I sold cars for a year at a Honda dealership. I sold cars for a year and then I worked at a gym in sales. All of that was to help me pay for my school.

MVN: What made you want to come to Mill Valley? 

CS: I’ve heard a lot of great things. When I was at Spring Hill, we got our butts whooped all the time in sports so growing up I didn’t have the best perception of Mill Valley. I wanted to be a part of something where they really valued academics and it seems like they do [at Mill Valley]. I’m really blessed to be a part of a school district that values academics as well as athletic achievement.

MVN: What made you want to become a teacher? 

CS: I had some teachers that left an impact on me. When you’re younger you think there’s no money involved, so why would I get into teaching? When you hit a certain age you start to think, do I need to do something that is going to give me money or something that is going to make me happy and make me feel like I have a fulfilling life? 

MVN: Were there any other jobs that you wanted to do? 

CS: I always wanted to be a stand-up comedian and I almost tried it. I almost went and did an open mic night but COVID happened. I never got to do it, so that’s still on my bucket list. The only problem is you have to be funny and I lack that.

MVN: Do you have a go-to joke?

CS: No, I don’t have a go-to joke. Usually, they’re a little elaborate, but I have a good selection of cheesy jokes that I like to use. If somebody says something is intense, I always reply with, “like camping.” That’s just one of the cheesy jokes I like. 

MVN: Do you have anything in your room that is meaningful to you?

CS: Most of the things that I have are gifts. I have my diplomas and other awards, but most of those things that I accomplished, I couldn’t have done without other people. If I had to choose one, I’d probably choose my gong. I used to work with a guy who gave me that. He said that I needed it for school to keep the kids in line. Everything I’ve ever accomplished has been the result of other people supporting me or giving me advice which makes things like that meaningful.

MVN: Are there any fun things you want your students to know about you?

CS: I want people to give me new music to listen to. Students are constantly talking about new music so my taste in music seems somewhat expired at this point in time. I would like to hear what’s new. If you have an album or a song or an artist that you want me to listen to, bring it by and I’ll check it out. 

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Standing next to the American flag the hangs above his desk, Social Studies teacher Carter Sebasto holds a gong that he was given as a gift. Explaining the value of the gong, Sebasto said, “I used to work with a guy who gave me that. He said that I needed it for school to keep the kids in line.” (By Luke Wood)
French teacher Denise Smith stands in front of her white board posing with her Eiffel tower wall decor. I used to have so much stuff, Smith said. I used to have so many Eiffel towers.
French teacher Denise Smith plans to further expand program

Mill Valley News: Alright. So, what are you currently teaching at Mill Valley?

Denise Smith: I am teaching French 1, 2, 3 and 4.

MVN: What was your previous job or jobs before teaching here?

DS: I taught at three different high schools in Ohio. I moved to Kansas 12 years ago. So my other previous job was raising our six children. I taught for 10 and a half years in Ohio and then I stayed home with the kids for 10 years. 

MVN: And is this your first job back?

DS: Yes, because I did long term subbing at Blue Valley last year, this is my first full time back.

MVN: How long have you been teaching?

DS: 12th Year

MVN: Can you tell me about your background a little bit like where you grew up? Like where you went to college?

DS: I got my bachelors at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Then I went to Université Laval in Quebec City, Quebec for a summer. I studied there in my undergrad while at Xavier.

MVN: How far was Quebec?

DS: 12 hour drive. So we drove it and then I did graduate work at Purdue University in Indiana and then while I was there, I lived in Grenoble, France.

MVN: How was living in France?

DS: I’d prefer Quebec any day over France. I mean, the Quebec quoi are much friendlier, they’re more laid back, you still have the American feel to it because you’re in Canada. Yeah. I love France. Just Grenoble was a little different. If I were to go live in Bordeaux, which is in the Southwest I would know, but Grenoble is in the South East in the Alps, right by Switzerland so it was fine.

MVN: Could people tell you were from the United States?

DS: Oh, yeah, they know I’m American. Even though my French was great, yes They can especially tell when you get in towns like that because it’s small. So they don’t get a lot of people to visit Grenoble. Unless you’re skiing, right. It’s a skiing town. So to have an American you tend to stand out a little bit sometimes.

MVN: What made you come to Mill Valley?

DS: I was seeking full time to be back teaching full time in a very academically driven environment

MVN: And what do you do in your free time? Like, is there anything that people might not expect?

DS: Oh, I still play tennis competitively. I mean, now it’s the local USTA (United States Tennis Association). But yeah, I play weekly competitively in leagues and all those are singles or doubles. I don’t really play piano anymore. I mean, I raise our six kids. But other than that I workout a lot, like I run a lot and I am very into sports athletics, just staying healthy.

MVN: Have you thought about being a tennis coach from Valley?

DS: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I was a head tennis coach for years. I would like to be the head tennis coach, I think in a few years. You know, let my youngest get a little bit more into school.

MVN: Speaking of your kids, What are the ages of your kids?

DS: I have a senior that’s seventeen, a fifteen year old that’s a sophomore, a thirteen year old that’s in eighth grade, an eleven year old in sixth grade, a nine year old in fourth grade, and finally my youngest is five and in pre-kindergarten.

MVN: Okay, and then what is your favorite thing about Mill Valley so far?

DS: I think what comes to mind is how friendly everyone is. I would think that my favorite thing so far is just how friendly and really academically driven everyone is for a public school. Students here are very academically aware, academically driven.

MVN: Do you have any plans to further the French program?

DS: Absolutely. There needs to be an AP class that needs to be a level five. I’d like level one taught at the middle school level as well. But I think to have the option of just AP or college now you could either take it for college credit or just because you want to take the AP exam. I think there’s different avenues you could go with that because I think Spanish has both or maybe not, I don’t know if she has the AP. But yeah, that would be my goal is to definitely further, make more sections of it you know have more kids in the upper levels than there are.

MVN: Are you going to look into a national French Honor Society?

DS: I will bring back the National French Honor Society. Hopefully in a year. The students need to get to that ability.

MVN: Do you have any plans for the French club?

DS: I do yeah, I need to get that going. I plan to do some fun activities in these next few months, kind of around holiday time. There is a big one I want to do which is a lot of work but we can do it. It’s the fondue feast. We do it at Christmas time where the French club will have fun. We invite everyone and you actually learn how to make true fondue and dessert fondue and then you serve it to everyone and it’s a lot of fun.

MVN: Are you excited about the future Mill Valley? Anything you maybe want to help further that?

DS: I just think overall it would be expanding. The French part of the department would be my biggest thing. For so long that the Spanish numbers are significantly higher than the French, I would like to make that more equitable would be my biggest desire for the school.

MVN: Do you have a plan of advertising?

DS: My advertising is really students. The more the students enjoy the French the more that gets passed down. It’s word of mouth with you guys. You know, when you have those younger siblings, or you go and you speak to the middle schoolers you say like, “Hey, you should really try French you know” or “French teacher is really fun like you’re going to learn a lot.” It’s different than Spanish. Just kind of open those doors more but that’s why I think so much of it and we need to have someone at the middle school that’s kind of a number one goal because it’s hard to grow a program when it’s not really a competition, but in some aspects, it is right. If you have a Spanish teacher over the two middle schools that feed into this. How do I even compete when there is no one there for French. But that’s my number one goal is to get someone at the middle school to be teaching French. Yeah, another person finding someone who wants to do part time or a retired French teacher is probably the route you go, but there needs to be someone there to help grow the numbers in French.

MVN: Do you have anything else like you want students to know about you?

DS: I want my students to want to continue on into the upper levels and to not be scared of the more grammar the more vocabulary, the more literature but to see it more as an opportunity of growth for the language and the culture and the love of French in general. My biggest thing is I want students to want to continue on, not just be done after two years, because taking four years of any language, what that can do for your proficiency. That’s why we’re adding in the stamp tests for French you know, all those things.

 

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French teacher Denise Smith stands in front of her white board posing with her Eiffel tower wall decor. “I used to have so much stuff,” Smith said. “I used to have so many Eiffel towers.” (By Barron Fox)
Ms. Swafford holds up two important items to her, flowers and her Ask, seek, knock. Her backdrop is a live, love, laugh sign along with a laugh as much as you breathe, love as much as you live canvas.  These items remind her that [shes] not alone, and [shes] happy.
English teacher Dorothy Swafford returns to school with a renewed passion for English

Mill Valley News: What was your previous job?

Dorothy Swafford: Well, I taught at Ottawa High School last year and then I’ve been here. I just came back because I was here for 14 years and left last year, and then came back again. so I’m not really new new.

MVN: Tell me about your background, where you grew up, where you went to college.

DS: So I moved around a lot when I was younger because my dad was in the military. I graduated from North Kansas City High School, graduated from Ottawa University for my bachelor’s and my master’s. When we go home, it’s to Hamilton, Missouri. I lived there for a few years but my senior year, I had to move down to North Kansas City, because my grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. 

MVN: Growing up, did you always want to be a teacher?

DS: No. I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher until I was a sophomore in college. I like to read, and I like to write, and I wanted to be a lawyer first and then I wanted to go into journalism. But Ottawa did not have a journalism program, so I did the next best thing which was English.

MVN: So why didn’t you become a lawyer?

DS: The law is very gray and I’m a very black and white person. You have to see all shades of gray when you’re dealing with a law that was very hard for someone very black and white. It’s not like me, and that’s what the law is like. I got out of that pretty quickly. My passion was like, I love journalism. I love to read, write and I love media and stuff like that, but I didn’t have that so I thought, okay, if I like to read and write, English sounds fun. That began my journey.

MVN: How’d you know you wanted to teach specifically?

DS: My freshman and sophomore year, I took very specific English classes. The first semester of sophomore year of college, I took a couple elective English classes like British lit and minority lit. I was very interested in that and I started liking it. So I talked to my advisor in the second semester of my sophomore year and declared education because they’re like, if you like it, you can teach it a I was like, “ah, well teaching sounds fun.” So I’m not one of those people who have known since they were a little kid that they always wanted to be a teacher. It’s something that my advisor helped me discover.  I’m glad she did because it’s been great for 23 years.

MVN: What are your hobbies and what do you do in your free time?

DS: I love to read. I love to listen to music, and I love, love hanging out with my family.

MVN: What’s your favorite book?

DS: I don’t really have my favorite book because I like reading, but anything that is happy makes me happy. If I want to be depressed, I’ll watch the news. I like happy endings,  it’s a rom-com or drama, I select happy endings.

MVN: What type of music do you listen to? 

DS: I’m very eclectic. I like pretty much everything except for some of the rap music that has a lot of language and stuff in it. I’m not big on that. I don’t like death metal at all, but everything else from country to today’s hits to reggae to jazz to Christian. I love it. I love it all.

MVN: What made you come to Mill Valley?

DS: 16 years ago, I had a friend who worked here and she said it was great. At that time I was in Gardner and I was doing English, yearbook and newspaper. I really wanted to just go straight back to English. She was like, “there’s a position here. It’s a great school, blah, blah, blah.” I said okay, and then I came here and I loved it. I left a year ago because I just didn’t want to do broadcast anymore. I did broadcasts for a big crowd for seven years. I was just kind of tired and I wanted to go back to English and at that time, they didn’t have an English position here. So I left and I went to Ottawa High School and taught English and that’s where I started 23 years ago, was at Ottawa. So it was kind of neat to go back. When I found out that there was a position here, finally an English position, a friend of mine here called me and was like, “oh my gosh, you’ve got to apply” and I did and here I am. So I didn’t want to leave but I just didn’t want to teach broadcast anymore. I didn’t want to stay and become a grouchy, terrible teacher. So I did what was best and I left.

MVN: Do you ever want to maybe go back to newspaper or yearbook?

DS: As of right now, probably not, but I’ve had a cycle. It has been seven years of yearbook/newspaper/English, seven years English, seven years broadcast AV production. So maybe this will be seven years of English, and then who knows? I don’t know. But as of right now, I’m enjoying English. I really do enjoy it. It’s fun.

MVN: How long have you been teaching?

DS: This is my 23rd year. 

MVN: What are you most excited about at Mill Valley?

DS: I was so excited to come back and work with the teachers. I love the teachers here. They are some of my greatest friends. I love admin. I love the kids. The kids are pretty good. They’re pretty chill, just good kids. But really it’s the people I work with, that make all the difference in the world about your job and being happy at your job. So it was easy, like sure I’ll come back.

MVN: Have you always loved English?

DS: Yes. When I took the seven year hiatus from it, it was probably because I had gotten to that point. It would be seven years at that time that I had done English and journalism. I wanted a break so went into like seven years of straight English and then it comes to a point where as an English teacher you have so many papers, and so many things to grade. It almost becomes a little daunting. I think when that happened, the idea of switching to broadcast sounded good because journalism, you know, I have a degree in that too. It sounded great because I’m like, “wow, I don’t have to grade essays anymore, lLike I just have to watch videos and stuff.” It seemed a little bit easier and a nice break. I think the seven year break really made me appreciate and want to come back to English. I had a new profound love for it and I was ready.

MVN: Was it a lot easier than teaching English/Broadcast Journalism?

DS: Yes and no. Not so much grading and stuff like that, but the prep was still the same. It takes me two to three hours a weekend to prep for what I’m doing for the next week in class for English. Took me the same amount of time for journalism because you have to make videos of how to make a video and you have to do all the prep work. But the harder side of broadcast is when it would air. You always had to worry like, “is it going to air? Are the kids going to be good? Or we’re going to have problems?” It’s kind of like being a coach. You know, if you have a really good game, everybody loves you. If your team loses then they’re pretty critical. With the daily announcements and MVTV, there were always some problems and they didn’t work and people were like, “well, we saw this we saw that.” It almost became sometimes daunting in that aspect of where people would give their opinions and it’s like, “thank you.” So that was hard because I felt like a lot of times I was on display with my kids and it seemed like it made it easier for people to be critics. I get it everybody has an opinion, but sometimes it’s hard when you hear like, like, “why did you run that story? Or why do you do that? Or blah blah, blah.” And I’m like, “it’s the kids’ choices as a student production,” and that got a little old and just the technology never working got really old. So it sounds stressful. It was on the show days, like last year or not last year, but the year before when I was here, we always had MVTV on Thursday. So Thursday’s were always like that, but other than that, it was pretty fine. Thursdays were just a hot, hot mess at times because we were all amped up for the show. You were just praying that technology worked and when it didn’t you become frustrated and you’re always in a time crunch. It’s just there are a lot of different aspects that it’s nice to be in here where I don’t have the element of time, like breathing down my neck. Somebody’s always gonna be watching me.

MVN: Tell me about an item in your office or at your desk that is important to you. 

DS: I always have like this: ask, seek and knock. It’s been with me for probably since I was in Ottawa probably like 17 years ago. My faith is a big thing. So it always travels with me so people know that my faith is part of me. I always have always had flowers on my desk. Flowers are happy and make me happy. I feel like they make the room happy. Those are two things that have been on my desk that I can always remember.

MVN: So does it represent your faith?

DS: Yes, my faith in God is one of my greatest aspects and the idea to always try to be happy. I like the flowers and stuff because, I mean, I have flowers, they’re plants that give life vitality. I just think it’s important to always be a little happy and to always know where your faith lies.

MVN: Why do you keep it on your desk?

DS: To remind me every day that I’m not alone, and to be happy.

MVN: What else should students know about you?

DS: I’m pretty much a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. I love my students, and they know that they’re great. But I will always tell them as it is. You don’t sugarcoat very often. I work with them, but my goal is to make them become better versions of themselves. So I will push when I need to push, cheer them on when I need to cheer them on, come down on them when I need to come down on them. Ultimately, I want them to know that I’m here for them. I think they know that but I think sometimes people are like, “oh, wow, okay, like Swaff just really does talk to you like it’s real,”lLike, “what are you doing? Why are you doing that?” I just try to keep it real because I can’t do pretenses because first of all, I can’t remember what pretense I put on. That’s a lot of thinking. I just want them to know that I’m real. I’m just like everybody else. I’m not elevated just because I’m a teacher. I’m just like them. Well, a little bit more of a jerk.

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Ms. Swafford holds up two important items to her, flowers and her Ask, seek, knock. Her backdrop is a live, love, laugh sign along with a “laugh as much as you breathe, love as much as you live” canvas. These items remind her that “[she’s] not alone, and [she’s] happy.” (By Maddie Mulryan)
FOCUS teacher Drew Sachen holds his Yeti cup at his desk Tuesday, Sep. 12. [My Yeti cup] was the first gift anybody gave me as a teacher, Sachen said.
FOCUS teacher Drew Sachen intends to make an impact on student’s lives

Mill Valley News: Tell me about your background like where did you grow up and where did you go to college?

Drew Sachen: I’m from Leavenworth Kansas. I grew up there my whole life going to a Catholic school and then transferring to Leavenworth High School. After that, I got the privilege to play football at Missouri Western up at Saint Joseph. My previous job was an intermediate school PE teacher.

MVN: What are some of your hobbies or what do you do in your free time?

DS: My hobbies are hunting, fishing and really football. It’s a hobby and something I love to do. In my free time, I like to go to the lake. I like to fish and hang out with family and friends down at the Lake of the Ozarks. I played safety in college and I played quarterback in high school.

MVN: What made you come to the Mill Valley?

DS: It’s kind of a bunch of reasons or a bunch of things built up to where I knew this is a place I wanted to be. I played against Mill Valley my senior year [of high school]. They beat us pretty badly. But after the game, Mill Valley coaches Drew Hudgins, Joel Applebee and Rick Pollard, all came over and shook my hand. Pollard gave me a hug and said, “You played great. You’re a really tough kid.” That kind of caught my eye from a coaching standpoint. During the game, even though they were whipping us, they were really great humans and helped me run safely. They were the most positive enemies that I have ever met in my life. When I went to college, I had three teammates from Mill Valley. When I asked them what  Mill Valley was like, they all said that they loved it. My parents are teachers and then going to college and listening to other students, they always hated [high school]. They didn’t like where they were at but for whatever reason, the kids from Mill Valley always had positive things to say about the school. I thought that was neat. To be able to have a former student talk about how awesome their high school is, it doesn’t happen very often.

MVN: You mentioned that your parents were teachers. Is that why you became a teacher?

DS: Kind of. I knew that I wanted to be able to change lives for people. I went through wanting to be a police officer, wanting to be a vet, wanting to be a nurse, wanting to join the military. Then when I got down to it, I thought of how I would be able to change lives. How would I be able to change lives and who has changed my lives or changed my life a lot? Every time I think back, it’s always teachers and coaches.  If they can make that impact on me and a bunch of other people, I don’t see why I can’t do that for kids in the future.

MVN: How long have you been teaching and coaching and what do you look forward to? 

DS: Three years. I’m probably most excited watching kids be successful whether it’s in the classroom or on any sports field or court. I like watching kids work hard, enjoy what they do and watch them be successful at the end.

MVN: Do you have an item that is important to you?

DS: I have a bowl game ring from winning a bowl game in college. I could bring in a picture with basically the whole defense from college and we’re all good buddies super close.

MVN: Is there anything else students should know about you?

DS: I’m not as mean as I look. They all think I’m mean but I just don’t smile often.

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FOCUS teacher Drew Sachen holds his Yeti cup at his desk Tuesday, Sep. 12. “[My Yeti cup] was the first gift anybody gave me as a teacher,” Sachen said. (By Ian Chern)
School Resource Officer Darion Hillman poses in his office. He describes his bobbleheads as the most important thing on his desk. I have my two little girls, Hillman said. This is Caitlin. Shes my one and a half year old and shes in a soccer bobblehead with her as a pitcher because I think shes more of my athlete and kind of tomboy and enjoys balls and sports. This is Kai, my four year old and she enjoys helping her mom and in the kitchen and kind of hanging out and going to dance class and those things.
School Resource Officer Darion Hillman shares his excitement for the year

Mill Valley News: So what was your career background or where were you before you came here? 

Darion Hillman: Let’s see. I’ve been with the Chicago Police Department for eight years. Before I came here I was in our for the first four years of my career I was in our patrol division, operator division, I was a field training officer, amongst other things, and then I went into our criminal Interdiction Unit. While in our criminal Interdiction Unit, I was the warrant officer. So basically I was the warrant apprehension. I just went out looking for guys with county warrants or felony warrants. So it was a fun job and now I’m here and I’ve been here for about two weeks. 

MVN: So what made you decide on MVHS? 

DH: I’ve always wanted to be an SRO. When I saw myself in law enforcement, I knew I wanted to be an SRO. I enjoy working with youth and kids. I think it’s fun every day so it lightens up my day and you guys have a lot of joy and energy, which translates to me. I think I like to think of myself as a big kid at times. I think as far as choosing a nearby school, it’s a great place to work. It’s a great student body, the administration is great and the kids are great, so why not? 

MVN: So thus far, you’ve been here for a couple of weeks. How would you describe your experience? 

DH: Oh, it’s been great. So far, so good. Everyone’s nice and super friendly. Everyone’s been really helpful – from the janitors to the administration, even students. 

MVN: What kind of plans do you have for this new role? 

DH: I think the first important thing is you want to come in and learn your role. So my plan is just to come in and learn my role and learn from students and administration. From there, I’ll see if I can better the SRO program in the school. 

MVN: So now a little bit of background, where did you grow up? 

DH: So I’ve been all over the Kansas City area, I went to elementary school in Missouri for a little bit and then I went to Missouri and KCK. Eventually I ended up graduating from Shawnee Mission Northwest right here in Shawnee 

MVN: What do you like to do in your free time? 

DH: Well, I have two little girls that are four and one so most of my free time is spent with them, typically at parks or family events. For home I like to grill out and hang out and run around outside with the girls. 

MVN: So what else should students know about you?

DH: Let’s see, I’m a huge football fan. A Denver Broncos fan. I love smoking meat on the weekends, and I’m a sneaker head. I love shoes. I love Jordans. I love Nikes. I love shoes and if I’m not shopping for shoes online then I’m trying to set up some type of vacation for the summer. 

MVN: All right, so tell me about one item on your desk that is important to you and why?

DH: I will say currently it’s going to be the bobbleheads. I have my two little girls. This is Caitlin. She’s my one and a half year old and she’s in a soccer bobblehead with her as a pitcher because I think she’s more of my athlete and my kind of tomboy and enjoys balls and sports. This is Kai, my four year old and she enjoys helping her mom and in the kitchen and kind of hanging out and going to dance class and those things. So those are probably the two most important things on my desk. All right. That is amazing.

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School Resource Officer Darion Hillman poses in his office. He describes his bobbleheads as the most important thing on his desk. “I have my two little girls,” Hillman said. “This is Caitlin. She’s my one and a half year old and she’s in a soccer bobblehead with her as a pitcher because I think she’s more of my athlete and kind of tomboy and enjoys balls and sports. This is Kai, my four year old and she enjoys helping her mom and in the kitchen and kind of hanging out and going to dance class and those things.” (By Anna Zwahlen)
Posing in his classroom, new math teacher Patrick Sarwinski holds a Mill Valley mug.
Math teacher Patrick Sarwinski likes school because of the respect from students

Mill Valley News: What was your previous job?

Patrick Sarwinski: Last semester I taught at Columbus High School. I was there the first semester because I played football at Pitt State for the previous six years.

MVN: Interesting. Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up and where did you go to college?

PS: I’m from Galena High School. Galena is in the very southeast corner of Kansas. It’s a Small 3A school. I graduated from high school there. After high school, I moved on to Pitt State, and I was at Pitt State for six years. I got my undergrad in 2020 and I got my masters in the spring of 2022. I am currently working on my ed specialist which I’ll finish next summer. I played football there for six years and now I’m here. 

MVN: What are your hobbies and what do you do in your free time?

PS: It’s kind of hard to come by free time. I’m just so busy all the time. I officiate a lot once football’s over. I officiate basketball at the high school level. I officiated baseball and officiated a lot of college baseball. I coach the linebackers on the varsity here as well. That keeps me busy. I tell everybody that it’s a hobby because I enjoy what I do. I think that about teaching too. I don’t think of it as a job, it’s something that I enjoy. It’s something I get to do. It’s not something I have to do. I think it’s the same thing about officiating. Outside officiating, I like to watch my documentaries on Netflix or Amazon Prime. When I go back home over Christmas break and spring break. I like to go fishing with my family. I just enjoyed nature and being out in nature.

MVN: What made you come to Mill Valley?

PS: I came because of the expectations and the culture here. Mill Valley is a place that I’ve wanted to be at for a while now. I grew up in Galena which is a very small area in Southeast Kansas, everybody kind of knew everybody there. I wanted to get into an area where it’s bigger. There’s more opportunity. More people to learn from and more connections to make. That’s kind of what brought me here.

MVN: How long have you been teaching?

PS: I’ve only been teaching for a semester. This is my first full year as a teacher. I taught for a semester at Columbus, but this is my first full year of teaching.

MVN: Why did you decide to become a teacher?

PS: I think it’s because of the impact that you have on kids. I think you have the greatest impact on young minds that you’re trying to develop and mold into great people and great citizens of society. My parents are both educators and I come from a family of educators. So I think looking at what they’ve gone through is kind of something that I’ve wanted to step into as well, and be a leader and be a model for the students that I have. And hopefully, put them in the right position to be successful.
MVN: What did you want to be before you became a teacher? 

PS: When I was four to 10 years old, I always wanted to be a farmer because I grew up on a farm. We lived out in Weir, Kansas, which is outside of Pittsburg in the middle of nowhere. My cousin had a big farm that we lived next to. He had a bunch of tractors, horses, cows and lots of land. He had a bunch of Turkey farms too. Being around him all the time made me think I want to be a farmer when I grow up. I enjoyed being around that stuff. Then we moved to Galena and naturally things changed from there.

MVN: What is your favorite thing at Mill Valley and what are you most excited about?

PS: It has to come back to the expectations. My favorite thing about this place is the kids and I mean how respectful they are to the teachers. I mean it was just a shocking thing for me. It’s “yes sir,” “no sir,” “yes coach,” “no coach,” everything is very respectful from the kids. You don’t get that in a whole lot at a lot of high schools across Kansas. I’m excited just about meeting new people and continuing to grow and develop that relationship with the students as well as my players on the football team. I think it’s been a really good relationship we’ve already developed there with football. I was here all summer and getting to talk with them and be with them was good and now we have a tight-knit relationship which is special.

MVN: Can you tell me about an item in your room or your desk that is important to you?

PS: It’s nice that I kind of have my photos around. I have my degrees up here and I have these photos of me playing football which was a really special time in my life. I was there for six years; that’s a lot of time in your life. I spent a lot of time there and I grew up and developed. When I went to college I became a man and learned a lot from a lot of people. That and just seeing the pictures of my family and my parents. The people that mean the most to me, that kind of got me where I’m at, that’s what matters to me. Also just kind of looking around and seeing all the hard work that I put in these things here because I worked hard to get where I’m at now and I haven’t just been handed things. I have a picture of me; a photo of my team when we won a championship that meant a lot to me. We hadn’t won a major championship since 2014 and hadn’t won outright since 2011. This was my last year there. We went undefeated in the conference and met one of my goals that is special to me so I think it just read in retrospect all of it is the things that matter to me the most are on my desk. 

MVN: Sounds very inspiring. Just looking around and seeing everything that you’ve accomplished. Final question: what else should students know about you?

PS: I’m very easy to get along with. I’m a laid-back kind of guy. I’m not going to get heated or upset easily. I would say I’m more of a patient person. As long as you communicate with me, you’re going to be successful around me, I think. 

 

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Posing in his classroom, new math teacher Patrick Sarwinski holds a Mill Valley mug. (By Evan LeRoy)
Art teacher Samantha MacAuley holds up her wobble board Tuesday, Sep. 5. I do have a wobble board in my classroom because I dont sit still very well, MacAuely said.
Art teacher Samantha MacAuley hopes to engage students in creativity

Mill Valley News: What was your previous job?

Samantha MacAuley: I was an art teacher at another school district. So same thing, just a new place.

MVN: Which school district?

SM: Osawatomie High School 

MVN: What is your background? 

SM: I went to school in the area, in the Shawnee Mission School District. I graduated from Shawnee Mission Northwest, just down the street. Then I did two years at Johnson County Community College. I got my Associates there, and I went and I got my bachelor’s at Emporia State.

MVN: What are your hobbies?

SM: Art is definitely a strong one. I like to just find new mediums and just learn new things. For example, last summer I taught myself stained glass. That was a lot of fun. Other than that, I’ve got another job. My second job is coaching gymnastics. I’ve been doing that for seven years now. Usually over the summer, I just do more of that.

MVN: What made you come to Mill Valley?

SM: Actually, one of my gymnasts was a student here. She graduated last year at about the time last year when I knew I wanted to try and find another school district to go to. The student mentioned that Mill Valley was a great place to be and so I went ahead and checked it out. You guys had an art opening and here I am.

MVN: How long have you been teaching?

SM: This is my second year teaching.

MVN: Why did you become a teacher?

SM: When I was in high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I kind of always had a natural talent with kids. So at my high school, I joined the teacher education classes there. When they told me I needed to decide what grade level, that part really didn’t interest me, but I thought you know, I already had some experience doing coaching gymnastics and teaching more of a physical education and I’ve always enjoyed art, so I thought I’d try it in an art classroom in an elementary school. I had a lot of fun doing that. It just kind of was a last minute decision to try teaching art.

MVN: So what are you most excited about teaching at Mill Valley?

SM: Honestly, I’m really excited about it all. Because I grew up in Shawnee, this is more what I’m used to. Osawatomie is such a small town. You only get very little so there’s just so much more here. There’s more students here. They’re more interested in art. So I’m really excited about the student engagement that I’ll get, the more excited that the students will be to create art and I get to teach more topics. So like last year, I only taught just general Art I or II or III and Advanced Art. This year I get to teach graphic design and Sculpture and Art I so it’s just more variety that I’m excited about.

MVN: Okay, so what’s an object at your office or your desk that’s important to you? 

SM: I haven’t had the chance to put my own students’ artwork up, but, for example, B228 is a science classroom, technically, and it looks like a science classroom. So I’m excited to put more student artwork up. I’ve already even told the students I said, “I’m stealing your artwork throughout the year,” because I want to make it look more like an art room. I’m really excited to hang more up. Of my own personal things, I do have a wobble board in my classroom because I don’t sit still very well and that did travel with me from my previous school district to this one because I specifically bought it for myself.

MVN: What else do you think students should know about you?

SM: That’s a hard question. My students should know that I’m very forgetful unintentionally. I have to remind them to yell at me if I forget them, because usually they’ll raise their hand and say, “Can I have help?” and I say, “yeah, I’ll be over there in a second” and then I forget about them. 

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Art teacher Samantha MacAuley holds up her wobble board Tuesday, Sep. 5. “I do have a wobble board in my classroom because I don’t sit still very well,” MacAuely said. (By Quin Peters)
New resource teacher Justin Crawford is ready to go out and coach one of his passions, soccer.
Resource teacher Justin Crawford aspires to help every student he can

Mill Valley News: What area did you transfer from?

Justin Crawford: I was a paraprofessional, last year with Jamie Pollard’s caseload and then I am transitioning now to teaching. 

MVN: Oh, that’s cool. How exactly would you define your new position?

JC: So instead of, in more of a support role, like last year, it’s a little bit more as a case manager. So a little bit more direct interaction with the kids and obviously lots and lots of paperwork. 

MVN: What exactly made you want to switch? 

JC: Jamie, who was my mentor, talked me into it. She said that when a position came open to be open minded to it, and then over the summer I had some conversations with Dr. Holder and Mrs. Jaeger about that being a possibility and it made a lot of sense. 

MVN: What is something that inspires you?

JC: I live around the school and so seeing a lot of these kids out in the neighborhood and out in the community. I think that’s probably the biggest motivator is just being able to help those that I know or see around and being able to just be a smiling face every day. 

MVN: What’s your background? Are you from this area originally?

JC: I’m from Topeka. I originally went to KU then. My wife and I both when we graduated moved here. We’ve lived in the West Shawnee area for 13 years.

MVN: Yes it is a nice area. What do you enjoy in your free time?

JC: I coach soccer, I coach here Mill Valley and then I also coach a private club. And then really the rest of it’s just hanging out with my family.

MVN: Do you coach girls soccer?

JC: I coach both boys and girls.

MVN: That’s cool. What is your favorite thing about Mill Valley?

JC: The most fun thing like I said, kind of relates to what I said about being in the community is just walking the halls and seeing the kids and just saying hi. 

MVN: Is there anything that students should know about you?

JC: I’m a pretty open book and the [students] that I’ve had a class with kind of know me by now.

MVN: Lastly, is there anything in the room that is significant to you?

JC: I have these pictures of my teams and my coaches. 

 

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New resource teacher Justin Crawford is ready to go out and coach one of his passions, soccer. (By hailey perrin)
Holding his K-State mug, CAD teacher Craig Morrow sits at his desk. My wife got that for me for one of my birthdays and so that meant a lot, Morrow said.
CAD teacher Craig Morrow hopes to inspire young minds through teaching

Mill Valley News: Starting off, could you tell me about your background? Where did you grow up? Where did you go to college?

Craig Morrow: I grew up in Olathe, Kansas and went to Olathe South High School, then got married and then we moved down to Texas for a few years. That’s where I got my masters. Back up to Kansas, that’s where my daughter was born. We moved back down to Texas for about 10 to 11 years. And now, back up here, where I’m obviously teaching today. In regards to college I went to K-State. I started out in architecture and then ended up with a sociology degree.

MVN: Cool. Did you have any jobs before teaching?

CM: Yes, I had a whole host of jobs. I was a mental health worker/counselor. I worked in the mental health area, I’ve worked in corrections, I’ve worked in law, things like that. But then ultimately, I landed a teaching job. Basically, they needed someone to teach social studies stuff and I decided I might as well give it a go and then I fell in love with that. That was around 2003. And then I’ve fallen in love with it ever since and I haven’t stopped. 

MVN: That’s awesome. Okay, so moving away from education and background, do you have hobbies? What kind of stuff do you like to do in your free time?

CM: I do enjoy drawing and modeling, making models and stuff like that.

MVN: That makes sense with the CAD element. What made you come to Mill Valley specifically?

CM: Well, it just happened to be that they had a drafting/architecture teacher available and my wife said, “Hey, why don’t you try for this one?” I said, “No, I don’t think I’ll get it,” and she said, “No, why don’t you try,” and I cracked: “Okay.” So I tried and it took a little while, but I landed the job. I was hoping to start in January of last year, but it wasn’t able to happen that way but I’m here.

MVN: Cool. You mentioned earlier that you’ve been teaching for a while, did you say 2003?

CM: I started in 2003. The biggest thing was that then, pretty much 2003 all the way through. I also was a college professor.

MVN: Awesome. I think we already kind of covered why you want to become a teacher, but do you want to talk about that?

CM: The biggest thing is it’s always fun to inspire young minds and just watch, especially when you get those light bulb moments when things kind of click and it’s fun. I gain energy off of that.

MVN: Yeah. Now that you’re at MVHS, what is your favorite thing or what’s one thing that you’re excited about?

CM: I enjoy the staff here. They also seem to have an energy about themselves and it’s a lot of fun to work with them.

MVN: That’s awesome. We’re gonna talk a little bit about an item. Do you have an item in your office or at your desk that’s important to you? What is that?

CM: Well, I’d say it’d be my K-State mug. Honestly, it is that because one, it’s K State, and two, my wife got that for me for one of my birthdays and so that meant a lot.

MVN: That’s fun. One fun fact about you?

CM: I do love to tell puns. I’ve got to always have a pun in line and that kind of stuff.

MVN: And last but not least, is there anything students should know about you?

CM: I try to be as light hearted as I can, but we remain focused on our goals at hand.

MVN: Awesome. Thank you so much.

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Holding his K-State mug, CAD teacher Craig Morrow sits at his desk. “My wife got that for me for one of my birthdays and so that meant a lot,” Morrow said. (By Olivia Peters)
Business teacher Brian Kirkpatrick holds up his Ted Lasso mug that says “be curious, not judgmental,” Friday, Sep. 1.
Business teacher Brian Kirkpatrick hopes to teach life skills through his business classes

Mill Valley News: What is your position at Mill Valley? 

Brian Kirkpatrick: I teach in the business department. I teach accounting marketing, and I am the Catty Shack advisor.

MVN: What was your previous job? 

BK: I previously worked at Mill Creek Middle School, where I taught pathways in both seventh and eighth grade.

MVN: Why did you choose to come to Mill Valley?

BK: I chose to go to Mill Valley because I have been coaching the swim team here for the past couple of years, and I’ve always wanted to teach at the high school level. I thought it would be a perfect fit to be able to teach where I would coach and get the opportunity to teach business

MVN: What was your favorite part about Mill Valley so far?

BK: I really like the people and I really like how it feels very positive here and everyone is invested in the Mill Valley community which is cool. 

MVN: Where did you grow up?

BK: I grew up in Overland Park, Kansas.

MVN: What did you want to do when you were a child?

BK: When I was child I think I probably wanted to be like a professional basketball player, but that dream did not last long. I think I want to be a lawyer for a long time. I like talking. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. Before I became a teacher I worked in the business world in sales, but I think I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. So after being in the business world, I decided to go back to school and become a teacher, which I think is probably deep down what I always wanted to do

MVN: Where did you go to college?

BK: I went to KU and I also decided to go back to school to become a teacher. I went to Ottawa University.

MVN: Why do you go into business?

BK: I think business is an incredibly relevant field to be learned in high school, even for students that aren’t going to necessarily go into the business world. I think some of the things that we do in these classes are incredibly applicable to what real life looks like for our students when they’re done with school.

MVN: What do you do in your free time?

BK:My free time I like to spend time with my wife Jackie. I like to play golf. I like to watch sports. [I’m a] KU fan and a Chiefs and Royals and Kansas City sports fan so pretty normal stuff.

MVN: Why did you decide to become the swim and dive coach

BK: I was a competitive swimmer my whole life all the way up through high school. I played all sorts of sports but Swimming was always my number one sport and the sport that I was best at. I’ve coached it for a long time and I really enjoy it.

MVN: Tell me one item in your office or at your desk that’s important to you.

BK: I really like my Ted Lasso mug. It has one of his quotes: “be curious, not judgmental.” I love that quote. I think it’s incredibly relevant to everything we do in life and I try to try to apply that to my classroom and to just my life in general.

MVN: What should the students know about you?  

BK: I don’t know. A lot of the students already know me because I taught them in seventh or eighth grade.  I’m lucky that I am a new teacher here but it doesn’t feel that way because I know a lot of people. They should know that I’m someone that they can count on and should get to know.

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Business teacher Brian Kirkpatrick holds up his Ted Lasso mug that says “be curious, not judgmental,” Friday, Sep. 1. (By Elizabeth Summa)
Social Studies teacher Tina Keith poses with her complaint department grenade Friday, Sep. 1. Its just an item of conversation, Keith said. Kids will come in and theyre like, “is that a real grenade,” and so thats something that Ive just always had with me.
Social studies teacher Tina Keith aims to set high expectations for the school year

Mill Valley News: What do you currently teach at Mill Valley?

Tina Keith: I teach AP European history, civics and geography.

MVN: And what was your previous job before teaching here?

TK: I spent 16 years in the Shawnee Mission School District. I spent a year and a half at Leavenworth High School and then last semester I was at Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences.

MVN: Tell me about your background. Like, where did you grow up? Where

did you go to college? 

TK: I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. I actually attended Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences. That’s where I went to high school. I went to KU, I have my master’s degree from the University of Kansas in secondary education, with an emphasis on teaching economics.

MVN: What made you come to Mill Valley?

TK: The opening for AP Euro fit really well with what I was already teaching. I was teaching IB World History which is a different program but similar and they needed someone. Mr. McAfee decided that he wanted to take a break from teaching AP. It is a lot of work and it just fit and was perfect timing so I ended up here. Both my kids went to school here so I already was familiar with the area and the school. 

MVN: What do you do in your free time and is there anything people might not expect about you?

TK: I spend a lot of time on our farm. We have chickens. I love gardening. Those kinds of things. I’m a big kind of workout type person. I spend a lot of time with family. I mean, those are kind of obvious things. Probably things that people wouldn’t know about me is I’m a cancer survivor. So you know, people that I haven’t known for long don’t really realize that because I’m kind of on the younger side of having cancer. I got it when I was 40. So yeah, that would probably be something people don’t know about me.

MVN: How long have you been teaching?

TK: This is my 19th year.

MVN: What is your favorite thing about Mill Valley so far?

TK: Mill Valley just has a positive attitude. Teachers are positive; students are positive. It’s just a good environment to work in: supportive teachers, supportive staff, so high expectations. I really appreciate that as a teacher because I hold those high expectations in my own classroom.

MVN: Speaking of that, like what are you most excited about for the future and Mill Valley?

TK: I’m really excited about Scholars Bowl. I’m the head sponsor of Scholars Bowl and I’m just super excited about that. I’m also an assistant sponsor for StuCo. So just being involved in the school, I just think that’s an important way to make connections with students and other staff members that maybe I don’t normally have the opportunity to interact with.

MVN: What else should students know about you?

TK: That’s a tough one. I would say and this doesn’t come from me, I hear it from other students if they feel like I’m a very intimidating person. I don’t know where that comes from because I feel like I’ve been a very approachable person. I want students to know about me that even though I have high expectations, I expect students to come and talk to me if they have problems or concerns or issues and so that would be some advice I would give to my students.

MVN: So tell me about an item in your office or at your desk that is important to you.

TK: That’s funny, because I was just cleaning this morning. I used to have a picture on my wall in my classroom. It was a complaint department. If you want to come make a complaint ticket number, right. One of my students, and this was probably 17 years ago, at Shawnee Mission South, saw my picture on the wall and they all thought it was really funny. He found this on eBay, and he bought it for me and I’ve had it ever since then, and obviously it’s not a real grenade. It’s just a joke. I can’t tell you how many students have actually pulled the pen. And I’m like, That’s not real bright, but they pull it and it’s kind of like a key shape to it. And so I tell them if you know, you shouldn’t pull it. I said, because it’s really difficult to get back in and I make them stay until they can put the key back in. And so I would guess probably 100 students over the years have pulled the pin on this, but it’s just an item of conversation. Kids will come in and they’re like, “is that a real grenade,” and so that’s something that I’ve just always had with me and I keep on my desk, remembering that student.

 

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Social Studies teacher Tina Keith poses with her complaint department grenade Friday, Sep. 1. “It’s just an item of conversation,” Keith said. “Kids will come in and they’re like, “is that a real grenade,” and so that’s something that I’ve just always had with me.” (By Avery Clement)
Excited to be back at Mill Valley, special education resource teacher Faith Bilyeu stands at the front of her classroom on Tuesday, Sep. 5. I always knew I wanted to come back here. I was just waiting for the right opportunity when a job would open up that I could come back, Bilyeu said.
Special education resource teacher Faith Bilyeu returns to teaching at the high school level

Mill Valley News: What was your previous job before coming to Mill Valley?

Faith Bilyeu: I was at Monticello Trails Middle School teaching the last two years. And then before that I was at Mill Valley for eight years as a para.

MVN: What is the title of your current job, and could you describe what you do?

FB: I’m a resource teacher. So what that means is I help students who need extra support in class to make sure that they get the support that they need. It is different from being a para is more hands on, and you’re with students all day. Being the resource teacher, you have more of the paperwork side of it. It’s more meetings and more contact with parents, as well as decision making as far as what [parents’] goals are.

MVN: So tell me a bit about yourself, where did you grow up? 

FB: I was a little bit everywhere but I was in Kansas City from middle school on, and my family is here. We currently live right down the street. My youngest daughter is a senior this year, Ava. All four of my kids have gone to school at Mill Valley and graduated from here, so I’ve been a part of the community for a long time. 

MVN: Do you have any personal hobbies or anything you like to do in your free time?

FB: I’m a big thrifter, I love thrifting. It’s been really fun with student council stuff because we have events that come up and I’ve been finding stuff for haunted halls and other stuff all summer long. Whenever I see Halloween things I snag it for us so it’s been really fun. 

MVN: What made you return to Mill Valley?

FB: I always knew I knew I wanted to be at Mill Valley. I love working with high schoolers, it’s so much fun. When I first decided to go back and get my teaching degree, Jen Smith, who was one of the administrators here was moving over to the middle school to be the principal there and so she asked me if I would go with her to work over at that school. Basically, she asked me if I would go over there and I really appreciated it because I still had one year left of finishing my master’s degree in special education. I finished that while I was in my first year of teaching over there. It was a very busy year, and I loved all the staff and I loved all the people over there but high school is my jam. 

MVN: Was there anything else that you wanted to be before becoming a teacher? 

FB: When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher and in fact, I went to Southwest Baptist University, a little college in Missouri, and I got my degree in psychology and sociology with a minor in counseling. That was a little bit different from the direction I had originally before I wanted to go into teaching, but later I was working with elementary students. I found that this was not for me, and I ended up staying at home with my kids until my youngest, Ava, started school full time. Then the year she started full time, was the year I went back as a para. Once that started, I was like, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?” I feel like we have a lot of para support here. I think that Mill Valley does a great job of supporting their paras, and I’m pretty passionate about allowing paras the opportunity to move into other jobs, like what I did.

MVN: What is your favorite thing about MVHS? Is there anything you’re most excited about for the upcoming year?

FB: I’m most excited about being in school with my daughter because it’s her last year. When we were together here before, it was during her freshman year and that’s when all the COVID stuff was happening. We weren’t even in the classroom or had the ability to be around each other. I’m most excited about having her as my TA and actually getting to be around each other. I’m loving that. 

MVN: Is there anything in your room that has a special importance to you?

FB: I have an album where I take pictures every year from when I started as a para at the beginning. I have pictures of the students I’ve worked with and the other paras that I’ve worked with, and then I add to it every year. It’s cool because it’s fun to just look back at the memories over the years, and when kids come into the room they like to look at the old pictures too.

MVN: Is there anything else that people should know about you or your profession?

FB: It’s really important to me to build relationships with students just across the board. I want my room to have an open door policy, where kids can come in to talk to me about anything school related or not school related, so that I can support them.

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Excited to be back at Mill Valley, special education resource teacher Faith Bilyeu stands at the front of her classroom on Tuesday, Sep. 5. “I always knew I wanted to come back here. I was just waiting for the right opportunity when a job would open up that I could come back,” Bilyeu said. (By Jules Shumaker)
PE teacher Jamie Resseguie stands with his whistle Thursday, Sep. 7. [It’s an] important tool that I use, a very simplistic piece, Resseguie said.
PE teacher Jamie Resseguie looks forward to building a hard-working weight room culture

Mill Valley News: Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up? Where’d you go to college?

Jamie Resseguie: I mainly grew up in Lawrence. I went to elementary school from the fifth grade on in Lawrence and then I graduated from Lawrence Free State in 2005. From there, I went to Baker University and graduated from there in the spring of 2010. Then I got my first job as a paraprofessional and coach at Mill Valley High School, from 2010-2013. Then I spent 2013 until just this last spring at Lawrence High School.

MVN: What did you teach at Lawrence?

JR: At Lawrence High School, Chesty Lions, I predominantly did all of our weights, strength and conditioning. I taught for eight years. I did teach one section of an Avid class. It’s kind of like a college prep class. 

MVN: How long have you been teaching and coaching?

JR: I’m going on 13 years

MVN: Why did you become a teacher?

JR: To be honest with you. Both my parents were teachers and I had two grandparents that were teachers and as I was making my way through college and deciding through those first couple years like what I actually envisioned myself doing after graduating, I just felt very comfortable with education and also with coaching football. I felt like if I made that my career then I wouldn’t have to learn a brand new trade or vocation or anything. I just felt like I was kind of familiar with it and comfortable with it, so that’s why I chose it. Why I ended up doing high school was more because I was kind of unattracted to the college coaching scene. I just felt like it was very toxic. I had been around that environment the last five years of my life while I was in college, and so I was kind of ready just to change that up a little bit. So the avenue was definitely teaching for me, that’s why.

MVN: Before you wanted to be a teacher, did you have a dream job that you really wanted to pursue?

JR: I always envisioned myself as a head football coach somewhere. I mean, to be honest with you. That’s kind of what I’ve always seen myself doing since I was about 16. I remember having that thought.

MVN: What made you come back to Mill Valley?

JR: Mill Valley offered me an opportunity to better my professional career and make things a little bit easier on my family as far as a better teaching schedule day to day. I feel like the opportunity to come back and work with Coach Applebee was intriguing to me because I really enjoyed my time that I spent with him and the other guys on staff my first three years that I was here back when he first got hired. It just seemed like just a better situation for me and my family overall, to make the switch back over here to Mill Valley.

MVN: Do you have a favorite thing about Mill Valley?

JR: I’ve had a lot of positive experiences here in my first couple weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know new kids and the job. I think the most thing I’m kind of taken aback by or enjoy about Mill Valley thus far is it seems like everyone here is very familiar with the procedures and the way that the school day operates, the teachers and the students. So the day to day here seems to run and operate pretty laid back and calmly and smoothly. It really feels like there’s a safe learning environment for kids that are walking in the building. I think that’s probably been my most favorite part is just getting familiar with this building’s procedures and then watching how well everybody kind of follows through with those and carries those out.

MVN: What are you most excited about for the rest of the year?

JR: I’m excited just to continue working with the kids in the weight room-revamping that culture into a really hard working class for all my students including male, female, not just our football guys. I’m also really looking forward to coaching through the rest of this football season, to see what that holds. I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve got to spend with those football guys after school or before school. They seem to be pretty good guys, and it’s been fun building relationships with them. I guess to answer your question, moving forward, I’m most looking forward to continuing to build new relationships impacting students in the weight room.

MVN: What kind of hobbies do you have outside of school?

JR: I enjoy spending time with my family of five. I have a stepdaughter who’s a freshman at Lawrence High, her name’s Sienna, I have a daughter, Cameron, who’s nine and then my youngest is going to be two in October, his name is Charlie and [there’s] my wife, Caitlin. I enjoy being around my family. I enjoy making them laugh. We really like going to the lake, Clinton Lake, in Lawrence. We go boating out there and do a lot of tubing and other good stuff. I like to ride my mountain bike. If I had to pick my number one recreational activity it would definitely have to be snow skiing in Colorado.

MVN: Is there an item in your office or like at your desk that’s really important to you or represents you?

JR: Something that is on my to-do list is to bring some office decorations. I don’t have any pictures or anything up yet. It’s pretty bland. Maybe my whistle. It’s old and raggedy and beat up. It’s got an old mini Sharpie that hangs off. It’s all scuffed up. [It’s an] important tool that I use, a very simplistic piece.

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PE teacher Jamie Resseguie stands with his whistle Thursday, Sep. 7. “[It’s an] important tool that I use, a very simplistic piece,” Resseguie said. (By Maddie Martin)
New teachers share introductory information about themselves to kick off the year
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