The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

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Staying in tune

New music and theater teacher takes on classes second semester
Music teacher Kristen Ross instructs students at an afterschool chorus rehearsal on Feb.22.

When Kristen Ross graduated from the University of Central Florida on Dec. 16, she did not expect to get a job opening that same weekend. The offer was to replace music and theater teacher Amy Stephens, who was leaving at the end of the semester. Stephens is now working remotely in development for Transfer, an educational technology company that uses virtual reality to provide hands-on training to college graduates for preparation in all careers. Ross is now teaching chorus, theater and AP Music Theory. 

“I was just looking for an opportunity for my family so that I could be home more,” Stephens said. “We’re looking at the potential of possibly moving, so having a remote job was sort of the first piece of that puzzle. It’s just kind of been on my back burner, but an opportunity came along and they say that ‘opportunity is not a lengthy visitor’, so when it comes you have to jump.”

Stephens said she chose to work at the company after a friend recommended it to her. She said she was interested in the fact that the company was “mission-driven.”

“I can’t imagine not trying to help people because that’s what teachers do,” Stephens said. “We like to help. My friends were like, ‘You know, there are a lot of transferable skills; you should think about it,’ and I’m finding that so far to be very true. The organization that teachers actually have to have works very well in this type of company, so it was a good fit.”

Ross previously attended Eau Gallie High School and later did her internship at Hoover Middle School and Melbourne High School. She said her internship provided her with some experience that prepared her for the new teaching position.

“Jobs like this don’t just happen, especially in the middle of the school year,” Ross said. “I was looking for a place to go and get a job and make money. I’m really fortunate that this opened because West Shore is such a good school.”

Ross said it has been difficult to manage teaching three different subjects, but she is enjoying the process. She has made lesson plans to guide her AP Music Theory students in preparation for the AP exam in May.

“Those kids are so awesome and I love them,” Ross said. “I feel like we’re kind of in this together. We’ve been going through the textbook. I’ve been going through slide lectures. We’ve been going over the actual AP exam because that was something they’ve never even seen before, and they also didn’t know what was on the exam so we’ve been looking at that critically.”

Sophomore Emily Marshall said she thinks the fact that Ross graduated recently is a benefit for the class.

“She’s fresh out of college and she took music theory in college which is basically what the AP class is,” Marshall said. “I think it’s going to help a lot because she is not removed from music theory; it was just a couple months ago for her.” 

Seventh-grader Maggie McNall said that she was initially sad when she heard that Stephens was leaving, but she was excited to meet the new teacher.

“The shift had a big impact on a lot of people because they had some really good bonds with Ms. Stephens and they really miss her,” McNall said. “It was really sad, but I’m looking forward to this new year with the new teacher.”

Eighth-grader Ellie Horne said that she was surprised in December when Stephens told their theater class she would be leaving.

“I cried for a long time,” Horne said. “Ms. Stephens, over the years, has just become like a second mom to me.” 

Ross said that she aims to fill in Stephens’ role as a supportive figure for her students. 

“I think it’s always an adjustment, especially when you have an arts teacher leave in the middle of the year,” Ross said. “That teacher is someone students look to to be a mentor and anchor for them in their lives, and I think me stepping into this role that was someone else’s is super challenging and [I’m] trying to meet [the students] where they are but also enforce the new policies I have and just trying to be someone that they like. I just really want them to feel like they have someone.”

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About the Contributor
Ashvika Maddikonda
Ashvika Maddikonda, Managing Editor
Hi! My name is Ashvika. This is my second year on staff, and I am the magazine’s managing editor. Aside from writing, I like to run and hike.