The Wingspan

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The Wingspan

The Wingspan

“New Kids on the Block”: A look into the English departments new additions

A new school year means new beginnings. New friends, new classes, new students and new teachers. While many of the incoming freshman students were feeling the first day jitters navigating Centennials maze of hallways on the first day, some of our new teachers were feeling the same way. Centennial has welcomed over 10 new teachers this year to the Eagle faculty, but most notable have been the five new additions to Centennial’s English department. 

With the loss of some of our tenured English teachers, these five newcomers have big shoes to fill, but are excited to embark on this new journey. Teacher Cristopher Bailey applied to teaching jobs up and down the east coast, but specifically remembers the impact Centennial had on him. “In general it was just a bunch of Zoom interviews, and I got the best vibes from Centennial High,” he says. 

Teacher, Christopher Bailey Photo by: Haynie Kim

Growing up in Parkland, Florida amongst a student body of 37,00 students, Bailey had defined very early on that English was a strength of his. “It was always my strong suit, reading and writing,” he said. After high school, Bailey went to college to major in English and Literature and minored in Early Modern and Medieval Literature. It wasn’t until his senior year that he seriously considered a teaching job. He began taking education classes while simultaneously teaching middle school in Florida and stayed there for four years. While Bailey enjoyed teaching middle school students, he found that he preferred teaching English at a higher level, and as politics in Florida began to escalate, he sent out his application to Howard County. 

Teacher, Julianne McAdams Photo by: Haynie Kim

Julianne McAdams, also born and raised in Florida, had a similar early love for English that grew and evolved throughout her four years of high school. “Senior year, AP Lit, was the first time that anybody ever made me feel like the study of English—like the rigorous study of English—was legitimate and worth something intellectually and even professionally, ” she recalls.

Although McAdams was passionate about English, she was determined to stay away from teaching, “I had this idea in my mind of like, ‘I will never become an English teacher…why would I go to school for my whole life? That sounds like torture.’” But teaching just seemed to keep falling into McAdams’ path. After completing college at the University of Rochester, she ended up in a teaching job within the community, then in Vienna through a study abroad program, and finally in South Korea where McAdams decided that teaching truly was her calling. “Teaching brought together all of who I was in this like beautiful shape,” she stated. 

After moving to Maryland from South Korea and receiving her masters from University of Maryland, McAdams taught at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George’s County for a year and then made her way to Centennial for the 2023-2024 school year, where she teaches English 9 and 10, and is the advisor for the school paper. 

Teacher, Sophia Nguyen Photo by: Haynie Kim

As well as a new school paper advisor, Centennial also received a new advisor for the beloved yearbook class, Sophia Nguyen. Nguyen grew up in Houston, Texas as a diligent student with the average high school experience. English didn’t strike Nguyen as particularly interesting until high school when she decided to continue her newfound passion for the subject in college, majoring in English at Kenyon College in Ohio. She initially started off as a middle school teacher in Texas and then in Virginia, but Nguyen wasn’t completely satisfied. “When it comes to teaching content, I wanted to talk about literature in more complex ways.” This ultimately led to Nguyen reaching out to high schools in Howard County. 

Teacher, Jada Lee Photo by: Haynie Kim

Similar to Nguyen, English 9 and 10 teacher Jada Lee’s love for English and its impact was slow to evolve. Lee claims that most of her high school experience revolved around the athlete experience; school wasn’t something she was necessarily excited about. “I knew that I was going to commit to play soccer [in college]…but I knew that the way to get to do soccer at the next level was to have good grades, so I did what I had to do to keep good grades, but [English] wasn’t always something that I was extremely passionate about.”  

It was Lee’s 10th grade English teacher that really flipped the switch on her perspective of English class and got her looking forward to school everyday. Lee ended up majoring in liberal studies with a focus on education and English after high school and then worked as a full time substitute teacher. Eventually, she became a kindergarten teacher, which she found more challenging than expected, so she decided to put her name in the portal for “open to high school” for the 2023-2024 school year. The same day that she interviewed for a position at Centennial, she was offered the job. “So far I love the experience and I’m blessed that it’s at Centennial itself,” Lee exclaims. 

Teacher, Kameron Harrison Photo by: Haynie Kim

English teacher Kameron Harrrison has the best of both worlds; he spends his mornings teaching at Centennial High, then over to Oakland Mills High School in the afternoon. Like Lee, Harrison enjoyed the extracurricular activities offered at high school such as band and sports, but was always partial to English class. “I always liked watching movies, which isn’t exactly English-related, but I think film is kind of similar where it’s that discussion about deep thinking,” Harrison said. 

After starting off as a pre-med major in college and having a nasty encounter with “Chem 101”, Harrison pivoted paths and majored in English and Literature for his undergrad and masters. Harrison had grown up with teachers scattered throughout his family, so teaching seemed like a natural, concrete plan after college. 

Although both the year and their careers are just beginning, these new teachers all have high hopes for their students and the impact that they hope English class will make on them. 

“It’s just a lot of freedom to have interesting conversations… and have it be very student-led and student- organized,” Harrison said about English class. “Whatever they’re going to do next, I want to make sure they’re confident in their ability to communicate through written texts… and also have fun.”  

McAdams has a similar hope for her students, stating, “The most important thing to me, above all else, is that students leave this class feeling that there is something worthy in the power of expressing thought through writing.”

Bailey strives to make his students better writers and really cultivate a love for English. “No matter what career path you go down, you will be consuming stories,” he insists. 

Nguyen agrees, stating that English gives you a space to “contend with a lot of issues that are going on in the world in a more experiential way, like through storytelling.”

Lee looks forward to growing and evolving with her students. “I’m really excited to take those students that don’t identify with like reading or writing or English in general and be able to switch their perspective on it and hoping that they take that and they run with it.”

We wish our new English teachers the best of luck for the new school year and are looking forward to the great things that are to come out of their classrooms. 


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About the Contributor
Tavroop Kaur, Managing Editor