New teachers at BVNW

Cameron Hamm, Flammy Huo, and Hope Lancaster

Who are the new staff members, and what are their stories? Enjoy the Q&A below with 11 new teachers and staff members at BVNW.

Who: Megan Geenens (BVNW alumnus)

What: Algebra I and Math Strategies

How do you feel about coming back and teaching as an alumnus?

“It’s good to see all the staff members that were there when I was in high school. Staff members have changed, the building has changed, but the way the school is run and all the spirit, and the way that students support each other, the traditions that we’ve kept since I’ve been at Northwest have most changed.

What is your favorite part of teaching?

“My favorite part of teaching is being able to build close relationship with my students and their families. It’s important that they learn and grow academically, but it’s just as important that they grow as a person and learn to be good people. Through teaching, I learned a lot about myself, I learned that I could positively impact people’s life, which is the best feeling in the world. It doesn’t even have to be that they learned math from me. It could be that I taught them to be a good person and I think that’s really special.”

What are you looking forward to the most?

“I am looking forward the most to rebuilding relationships with the staff members, and getting to know the student body well. I’ve been the head cheer coach, so I’m going to continue that. Teaching comes first and I’ve committed to coaching, but I thought about sponsoring a freshman class in the future, so I think that will be really fun to get involved into the student government.”


Who: Courtney Weber

What: Administrative intern

How are you expecting BVNW to be different as a teacher versus a student?

“I’m really excited to be a part of the traditions at [BVNW]. The school really has special traditions around Spirit Week, athletics and performing arts.”

What made you want to change your job from Special Education to Administration?

“Eventually I want to be back in Special Ed in District Administration, but to get there, I need to learn how all different parts of the educational system works, so one of those is learning about how to run a school building. Blue Valley has a special program, an internship program, for people who are wanting to be administrators, but either don’t have their license yet, which I don’t, or just aren’t quite ready to take on that role completely. I’m in charge of the junior class. I work with athletics, activities, and curriculums, so I’ll get to do a little bit of everything, so I’m not tied to one role. I want kids to feel comfortable coming to me. I think the big part of being an administrator is being an instructional leader and being at presence in the classroom and in the community, so I want to be out and in classes and learn about teachers and curriculums.”

What are some of the differences between BVNW and BVSW?

“I spent more time at Southwest. Southwest is a brand new school. It’s a baby, so compare to the history of school like Northwest –  it’s way behind. They are still establishing traditions, what you guys have already done here, which ties into the school spirit and all those cool traditions. The demographics of the student population will be very different. Just the parts of Overland Park that they are located in, Southwest has a lot of kids that live on farms, and get up and do chores before the day starts, and I don’t think many kids at Northwest do farm chores before the day starts.”


Who: Jacelyn Miller

What: Counselor

What brought you to BVNW?

“Since I went to Liberty High School, I knew about Northwest, I had friends that went to high school here, and I knew that was a really great place to be, very supportive for new people like me, and I thought it would be a really good place to start my career with a great group of people.”

What made you want to be a teacher and a counselor?

“I was very close to my high school counselor. I don’t know if I would have gotten through high school without him, because he was so influential in my life, and he really helped me through something that went on in high school, so I wanted to make sure that I could do the same for people.

What do you think is the most crucial part of students’ lives?

“I think forming relationships is the most crucial, because you can be very smart and have great grades and be very involved, and you can always work towards those things, but it’s hard to get friendships back. Everyone needs a support system, and everyone needs someone to talk to when things are hard. [Remember that] everything will work out as it’s supposed to if you just stay optimistic. Be kind, be nice to people. I think being nice, kind, and thoughtful goes a lot further than any test scores or grade you get on the paper.”


Who: Jadonne Gyswyt

What: Chemistry and Physical Science

What draws you to science?

“I have a theory, well maybe a hypothesis to be correct. Most science teachers have an inert desire to understand why, so they kind of just grow up with a natural bent always wanting to understand. Some people just have a greater drive to figure out why things are the way they are.”

What was your first impression of BVNW?

 “Very excited and I enjoyed the facilities and I’m excited to get some new learning techniques and learn from other people and teaching styles. The faculty are all extremely friendly and warm, I felt already kind of at home.”

Would you rather have giant ears or a tail?

“I’d say ears because of Dumbo. He always wanted to fly and eventually did and I could see using giant ears to come up with a way to fly. I could take advantage of that bad genetic draw.”


Who: Jordan Gray

What: Special Education

What is the most challenging part of your profession?

“Creating relationships and having good, stable relationships with the kids. A lot of my students come from different upbringings and disabilities; they have different struggles to deal with. It varies from student to student what you have to do. Some students are very open while others are introverted. It’s imperative to have a smooth running classroom.”

What brought you to BVNW?

 “I’m from Kansas, I went to school in North Carolina, I moved back home becauseI got a little homesick. I chose Northwest because the support that was given by the administrative staff was beyond measure. That was the deciding factor, and I’m familiar with the traditions and accolades the school’s received.”

What are you like in the classroom?

“Pretty laid back, I don’t really like to consider my classroom as a classroom, I like to consider it, for lack of a better term, a chill zone where kids can come hang out. I’m very fun and open to what my students want to do.”


Who: Dan Eigenberg

What:English Language Arts 10

Where have you taught before?

“I spent my first five years teaching at Coronado Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas and then last year I was at Lakewood Middle, which is in the Blue Valley district.”

What are some differences between Coronado and Blue Valley?

“We had a much higher poverty rate, so many students, when they’d come to school the only meals they ate were the breakfast and lunch that we fed them. I had metal detector duty once every five weeks, we had to search backpacks and confiscate sharpies, kids were really big on vandalizing.”

What draws you to English?

 “I love the discussion and the different ideas you get from the English classes. I might not have thought of something when I read the book but listening to the person sitting next to me might help me develop my thinking. I love that there’s not really one right answer for so much of literature.”

Would you rather have giant ears or a tail?

“I think I’d rather have the tail; you could hang from things like Nightcrawler.”


Who: Kimberly Hillstock

What: English Language Arts 12

What is your favorite book?

“I really like Still Alice. It’s about a woman who’s a college professor and she discovers she has the genetic marker for Alzheimer’s. I had a hard time getting through Still Alice; it’s very emotional. It’s a book I think every human being should read.”

How has high school changed since you were a student?

 “I think that you have a different world ahead of you, and we thought that was hard when we were graduating. If we had a degree we were fairly guaranteed we’d have a place in the workforce but now, it’s not a guarantee. We’re teaching kids to survive in a world which we don’t know what it looks like.”

What is your cell phone policy?

“I’m really split on that, kids are so wrapped up in it and it takes away from true interaction in the classroom, in that regard I’m smash them, hide them, get them out of my room. But, I’ve seen teachers on phones, Facebook, and iPads at in services so for teachers to say you shouldn’t is a little hypocritical. One idea I like is having a ‘tech check.’ During class, I’d allot two minutes for students to check their phones, just so they’re not distracted when they feel a notification buzz.”


Who: Todd Peterson

What: Physics

What brought you to BVNW?

“I wasn’t really looking for a job but I met a guy on spring break who told me about an opening here at Northwest. It has a great reputation and obviously a great system so I applied and couldn’t turn down the opportunity.”

Why are you teaching physics?

“What else is there? I started in engineering and it was something that came natural to me. I was good at it, I enjoyed it and that’s how I see the world and that’s why I teach it. I don’t know what it is about me that makes me gravitate towards it, I don’t know why my brain works the way it does but that’s what my interest and passion are.”

What are you looking forward to about the year?

“I’m looking forward to mostly getting to know the students and develop relationships which I think is the best part of my job.”


Who: Kim Goldsmith

What: Counseling

Why did you want to come to BVNW?

“I was at Harmony Middle School for eight months and so I got to work with the counseling staff at Northwest and then I got to try and do different things with them and really enjoyed working with them and seeing what they got to do. I really wanted to be a part of it and it was really great because I got to continue working with families and kids I knew from Harmony.”

Why did you start counseling?

“In my classroom, kids would come to me for problems other than academics and I really enjoyed that aspect like helping kids in that way.”

What are you looking forward to this year?

“I’m just learning so much each day and getting to meet new kids and helping them in a new way that I am also learning along with them so it has been great so far.”


Who: Kendra Smith

What: FACS

Why did you come to BVNW?

“I was torn between Blue Valley Northwest and Blue Valley High, I teach part time at Blue Valley High so I thought why not work part time here as well.”

What is your favorite color?


What are you looking forward to this year?

“I am interested in seeing the Husky tradition because every school has its own unique tradition so I’m anxious to see the tradition here.”


Who: Michael Arbucci

What: Orchestra

Why did you decide to come to BVNW?

“I have heard it is a great school and really like the culture and I believe the Northwest way is much different from North, Southwest and West. It seems everyone has a more relaxed deal at this school and that is something I really liked about it.”

What is your favorite part of teaching?

“My favorite part of teaching is when I put really hard music in front of students and they think there is no way they are going to be able to play this and so we work through it and they conquer it and you can see it in their face and they are proud.”

Why did you choose to teach orchestra?

“I chose orchestra because I had a great time in orchestra when I was a kid and I want to be able to give back.”