New faces appear in hallways


Zakary Hicks

Cali Free grades papers and settles into her new teaching job. This is her first teaching job here at Altoona High, and the Mountain Lions have welcomed her with open arms.

Zakary Hicks, Reporter

Eight new teachers joined the high school staff for the 2019-2020 school year.  They hope to help and better the students. The teachers are from different states, switched from the junior high building to the high school, previously worked at different schools or some even attended Altoona High. 

Sarah Graham has worked in the district before. 

“I’m originally from Michigan, where I did my student teaching, and then moved to Indiana. I was mostly subbing at Indiana and Leechburg before working at Altoona.  I’ve been subbing in the area for a while, and when I saw that there was an opportunity to have a long-term position where I would get to have a consistent job and get to do real teaching, I was more than happy to accept,” science teacher Graham said. 

Angela Frank has been working in the school district at various places for years. 

“My first teaching job was in Bedford at a partial hospitalization program which was a long commute for me. Since coming to Altoona, I taught at Kimmel for nine years, Logan and Pleasant Valley elementaries for one year, the junior high for one year and now I am at the high school,” math teacher Frank said.  

Crum was previously the special education supervisor at the junior high, but with Gayle Fratangeli retiring, she made the transfer to the high school.

“I have a variety of experience from early childhood to elementary to the junior high school, so I wanted to learn about the high school aspect of education and what opportunities are there for students now and beyond graduation,” special education supervisor Jennifer Crum said. 

Klausman had the opportunity to come back to AASD almost 20 years later.

“Altoona has always had a special place in my heart,” business education teacher Jarrod Klausman said

The new teachers have had a helping hand with their transition.  

“The first few weeks have been really great.  A lot of my colleagues and students here have been so helpful, and it’s definitely a great place to be. There are always people around to help if you need help to get started, and the students have been very encouraging,” Klausman said.

The staff and students helped with the teachers’ new adjustment. 

“The first few weeks have been challenging and rewarding at the same time. I’m working with an incredibly knowledgeable and passionate staff. Being a part of a positive and student-centered team makes all of the difference in the world, especially during the challenging times. Everyone here, including the students, has been welcoming and supportive, which has made my transition a lot smoother,” Crum said.  

Goals have been set for the school year. 

“My goal for the school year is to help my students and other students out as much as I can and have a huge impact on them. I’d like to see them succeed inside and outside of school, and I’ll use everything that is given to me.  A lot of the teachers have already been a huge help to me by helping me set up my curriculum, so without them, I don’t think I would be able to perform as well as I am right now,” special education teacher Jeremiah Price said. 

Teachers care about more things than just the subject they are teaching.  

“There’s a long-running joke that the goal of your first year of teaching should just be to survive, but I’m too stubborn for that. I have a lot of different goals, but my main goal is for everyone to leave my classroom better than they came in. Whether it’s science-related, or just about how to be better students or people, I’ll be happy if I can make a positive difference for everyone,” Graham said.  

Retaining information is important. 

“My goal for the school year is to definitely help with the Keystone scores because I know those are very low.  I don’t necessarily teach that subject area, but hopefully instead of the students just remembering something and forgetting about it, I’m really hoping they retain all of the information they are learning throughout the whole school year and not just having them blow it over once the test is gone.  That is really important especially with math, and onto to the next subject because you are going to be using what you learned. So just really helping them retain all of the information, and really get to know them and do activities that are fun for them so they enjoy learning,” math teacher Cali Free said. 

The students’ success matters to the teachers.  

“My goal is just to have all the kids I have in school-to-career to just be successful with their job sites, and to have constant communication with business owners where the students are placed about how they are doing and how they are growing every day as people and employees.  I’m really excited to have that every day,” Klausman said.

Technology is another component of a typical day at Altoona.

“My goal for the year is to challenge my students and incorporate more technology in my lessons. I am going to take advantage of the technological resources that Altoona provides for staff and students,” Frank said. 

Altoona is different than other districts. 

“The pride and dedication of students, families and staff is what sets Altoona apart from other schools and districts. There is a true feeling of community here at Altoona,” Crum said. 

The construction has played a major role so far this school year. 

The most difficult part of starting the school year was learning to navigate the buildings and all the construction,”  Frank said.  

Klausman attended Altoona high as a student. 

“I’ve been here for two weeks so far, and as I walk around the hallways I see rooms where I had drivers education and Spanish.  Being on the other side of it now, I think, is just a different way to look at it is now that I’m a teacher and helping students; I was once in their shoes.  Being able to achieve their dreams every day and be successful in what they are doing kind of brings the whole education experience full circle with being a teacher instead of a student and seeing both sides of it is a nice opportunity,” Klausman said. 

Price is seeing school in another perspective. 

“Being a student, you sit there and do the work whereas a teacher you have more fun.  You come up with the work, and you get to see how the students advance throughout the year and how much they grow.  As a student you don’t really see it as growth, you see it as work from day-to-day. Whereas being a teacher, I love it; I love seeing how the students do each day. I love seeing their faces coming in smiling, and I just like being here for them,” Price said.