Saying goodbye — and hello — to faculty


Dean Stewart Photography

Spanish teacher Ogla Evers, technology specialist Terri Friend, English teacher Mary Mason, social studies teacher Angela Hill, science teacher Magdalena Molledo, social studies teacher Brooke Owen-Thomas, social studies teacher Jim Pustay and math teacher Steve Thomas will not return to West Shore next fall.

Sophia Bailly, Staff Writer

Amid the turmoil of COVID-19, five new faculty members have joined the Wildcat Nation. The newcomers will be replacing technology specialist Terri Friend, social studies teacher Angela Hill, social studies teacher Jim Pustay, math teacher Steven Thomas, English teacher Mary Mason and social studies teacher Brooke Owen-Thomas. In addition, Spanish teacher Ogla Evers and science teacher Magdalena Molledo recently announced they will not return next year and their positions have not yet been filled.

With more than 30 years of teaching experience, Kara Wells from McNair Middle School, will be teaching World History and AP Human Geography.

“Transferring is not a problem during the pandemic for me because I will be teaching classes that I have a lot of experience teaching,” Wells said. “I have been attending the West Shore faculty meetings via Skype in order to get a feel for the school. [The] staff is very welcoming. All schools are interesting and different experiences, each with their own feel. So I look at new experiences as fun adventures.”

Wells has a background in AP and IB social studies classes, gifted curriculum and ESE Support.

“I will bring my experience to the classes and engage students through a variety of lenses,” Wells said.

From Las Vegas, Nevada, Kaitlyn Hoskins will be teaching U.S. History and Government, after teaching AP Human Geography and World History for four years. She was messaged about the position via Facebook. COVID-19, however, has posed some challenges for the newly arrived Floridian.

“Currently, I am unable to pack up my former classroom during this pandemic,” Hoskins said. “So I’m hoping to return to Vegas and pack up my materials before the new school year starts.”

Aside from the pandemic, the new teaching position will differ from the structure of Hoskin’s previous school in Las Vegas.

“I am worried about adjusting to a completely different bell schedule, but I know it’ll only take a few weeks,” Hoskins said. “I believe that I will bring fun activities, a mentoring spirit, and new innovative ideas to make learning fun and engaging. I am not familiar with anyone on campus; however, I am somewhat familiar with the layout of the campus as my mom actually went to middle school on the same campus when West Shore used to be Central Junior High.”

After teaching English and Social Studies at Brevard Virtual School, Thomas O’Bryan will be teaching AP English Literature, with the possibility of another course.

“I learned of this position from [Principal Rick] Fleming,” O’Bryan said. “I have been looking to teach at West Shore for a few years now.  My son, who graduated from West Shore last year, was my inspiration. I was impressed with his teachers, the school’s leadership and culture, its many extracurricular activities and the overall work ethic and pursuit of excellence by the students.”

The new job will officially start in August, however O’Bryan said he hopes “to do some planning and working with the other English teachers all summer.”

“West Shore will be a different experience for me and one that I look forward to with eager anticipation,” O’Bryan said. “Being with students in person rather than in a virtual setting is the biggest difference in this position. I look forward to working with students to help them reach their potential as writers, critical thinkers and successful future college students. I also look forward to possibly forming a chess club if there is interest and a mock trial team to engage in statewide mock trial competitions.”

O’Bryan said that after having a son attend campus for six years, he knows “many of the players.” However, the coronavirus poses a unique situation for the new teachers, including O’Bryan, as the structure of the upcoming school year remains uncertain.

“I am not that concerned though,” O’Bryan said. “West Shore has excellent leadership and a resourceful faculty that can and will weather any storm.”

A West Point graduate, who served from 1996 to 2001 as a Field Artillery Officer in Korea, Oklahoma, Texas and North Carolina, Patrick Pittenger will be teaching Algebra 1 and 2.

“I actually started looking at teaching at West Shore last year when my oldest son applied for admission,” Pittenger said. “He didn’t get a spot, but the more I heard about the opportunities available at West Shore for students and faculty, the more interested I became in securing a position there.  When I heard that Mr. Thomas may be retiring this year I contacted Mr. Fleming and Mr. Webb to inform them of my interest.”

Pittenger taught Algebra 1 and Geometry at Central Middle School, alongside English teacher and yearbook adviser, Jodie Capron, and Assistant Principal Glenn Webb for numerous years.

“One of the things I enjoy about teaching is that every year is different,” Pittenger said. “Sometimes it is a different subject, or a different school, but almost always there are different students. The students are the ones who keep me coming back and I look forward to getting to know my students at West Shore and helping them be the best they can be.”

Pittenger said he hopes to help manage Math Camp this summer, but does not yet know what “form it may take.”

“The whole situation has been surreal,” Pittenger said. “My interviews were conducted entirely by phone. I am in the process of packing up my supplies at Central, but only a few teachers can be on campus at one time, so I have to schedule additional time to pack up on my own. Once I get everything packed up, I will have to wait to get permission to go on campus at West Shore. It is weird not being able to do the things we used to take for granted.”

Anthony Albert will become the new technology specialist after working at Madison Middle School. Albert will be in charge of maintaining and administering the networking and computer technology on campus. He also attended middle school on campus when West Shore was Central Junior High.

“I’m looking forward to working at a site where I was previously a student,” Albert said. “My only other experience like this was when I worked as the FLVS Lab Facilitator at Eau Gallie High, since that’s also where I graduated. 

Like the other incoming faculty members, Albert has joined in on the weekly faculty and Skype calls, and “can already tell that the team at West Shore will be a joy to work with.”

“My experience is that the most important ingredient to a successful team is a strong culture, and it seems like West Shore has that,” Albert said. “I haven’t actually started at West Shore officially, but I imagine the transition will be as exciting as advertised, based on everyone’s experience in 2020 thus far.”

Positions in Spanish, social studies and science have yet to be filled.