New Manual faculty put emphasis on learning


Piper Hansen

Every year Manual brings new teaching expertise to enrich the lives and minds of students as well as accommodate for staff changes. This year, the Manual community welcomes eight new faculty members including two alumni and a former Manual parent.

Both Ms. Emily Sales and Mr. Daniel Zakem (English) attended Manual as students and are looking forward to creating their own teaching legacies.

“I’ve always really wanted to teach here,” Sales said. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since I moved back to Kentucky.”

After 15 years of teaching JCPS students, “[I am most excited about] figuring out through my teaching and grading where the gaps are [in my students’ learning] so I can fill them before they’re on their own in college and are expected to know [it all],” Zakem said.

Sales and Zakem described their classrooms and teaching styles as laid-back and they are excited to experience Manual traditions like celebrating Red/White Week, going to musicals and cheering at pep rallies as teachers.

But not every new teacher is accustomed to the traditions of Manual. Mr. Dennis Kuo (Science) is working at Manual for his first year of teaching.

“I really wanted to be a teacher because I felt like my work was meaningless as a researcher,” Kuo said. “I like interacting with people and I really like schools and the atmosphere around [them].”

While all of the new teachers come from different backgrounds, they all agree on one thing; Manual is inviting and they are looking forward to being a part of a new community.

“I love Manual so far,” Ms. Mary Lou Whitfield (Math) said. “My four daughters attended Manual so I know what kind of students this school creates and helps to develop and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Even though they are still learning the ropes, these new teachers are quickly picking up on the highly motivated students and the stress levels that they share.

“I think I resonate really well with the students here,” Kuo said. “I went to a similar high school so I kind of understand what [students] are going through, the pressures that [they] face and I want to help.”

Despite the high standard environment, new faculty hope that students understand the much bigger goal of attending school.

“I think students should constantly make sure that they’re checking themselves,” Zakem said. “I know that [students] who come here want perfect grades and I think that’s a great motivator but I don’t think the desire for [the] grade should ever get in the way of the greater thing which is the learning.”