Heritage Welcomes New Teachers

Grayson Parker

Ms. Grayson Parker is one of our new teachers at Heritage this year. She teaches Drama, as well as 9th and 11th grade English. Being an alumni of Heritage, Ms. Parker is more than happy to be back. “Heritage has always been a very special place,” she said. “Once I realized in college that I wanted to go into education, I knew I wanted to teach at Heritage and give students the high school experience that I had,” she explained. “One thing that I love about Heritage is the traditions that have been upheld here. There is no other school that does things like Heritage, and I am so thankful I can continue the legacy of a Heritage General.” Speaking of Heritage traditions, there is the infamous tardy bell. Everyone secretly wishes they could pick a song to play for it and if Ms. Parker had her choice, it would be “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. “Specifically for the 8 a.m. bell,” she jokes. Before she came to work at the school, Ms. Parker worked in the Special Events Department over at Rock City. “I absolutely loved working there and felt it taught me how to collaborate with a team to reach a common goal,” said Parker. Soon after her time at Rock City, she worked as a parapro in our very own media center. “I am beyond thankful for that position because it gave me first-hand experiences when it comes to the world of education.” When it comes to the moment that Ms. Parker realized she wanted to become an educator, it was a no brainer. “I majored in Theatre and Performance Studies in college and during my junior year, I took a Theatre for Young Audiences class. That class completely changed my perspective on educational theatre, and I knew I wanted to do that for a living,” she said. “I love sharing my passions with others and teaching them about how the arts are relevant in our lives every day. There was no question I was meant to be in education.” Even though this year has been off to a crazy start, Parker has no doubt that we will still have a great year. “I am choosing to believe that we will have a great year no matter what, while also staying safe,” she elaborated. “ I definitely miss having all of my students together, but I also want to be able to do all of the fun stuff high school has to offer and if that means being digital or hybrid then I am all on board.” Ms. Parker is optimistic about the coming school year and can’t wait to see what new adventures await her during this year! (Briley Simpson)

Madison Hobbs

Ms. Hobbs is a new science teacher here at Heritage, who also graduated from here in 2015. Before she came to Heritage, she was a chemist and a phlebotomist. She worked at  RWM technologies and Hamilton Medical Center. She was a quality control chemist who had to inspect all the products they manufactured and test them for various things. This prior job required adaptability, which certainly helped her prepare for teaching during a pandemic. She decided to teach at Heritage because the freedoms offered to students here set Heritage apart from any other school. “From these freedoms, students are more prepared for an environment that has minimum supervision (such as college),” she explained. Mrs.Hobbs expects to do her best this year and to ask for help when she needs it, since she is a first-year teacher. Next semester, Ms. Hobbs is teaching Environmental Science, and this semester she is co-teaching Biology, Physical Science, and Environmental Science again. Finally, if Ms. Hobbs could pick any song for the tardy bell; it would be “Let’s Groove” by Earth, Wind, and Fire. (Connor Richardson)

Hannah Oliver

Mrs. Oliver is a new English teacher this year at Heritage and already feels like she is at “home.” “Out of all the places I have worked, this is the only place that felt like home, and I have the faculty and students to thank for that.”  

Before coming to Heritage, Mrs. Oliver worked at Dalton High School for one-year and student-taught at North Cobb High School for another year. “All three of these places have given me amazing experiences, each in its own way.”North Cobb and Dalton helped Mrs. Oliver to understand that not every student grows up the same way as she did. “ I feel so blessed to have experienced a diverse and multicultural classroom while teaching, even if it was only 30 minutes away from home.” Mrs. Oliver graduated from Heritage in 2015, so she is glad to be back in the school. “I knew coming back here it would feel like I never left, and it truly did.” 

Mrs. Oliver has always wanted to be a teacher ever since she was a little kid. “ I vividly remember being a child and playing “School” with my brothers, but I ALWAYS had to be the teacher, or I didn’t want to play.” Mrs. Oliver has loved all parts of teaching, but even more she has loved learning something new everyday. “ Becoming a teacher is a great way to continue your education after college because you really do learn something new everyday.” This year Mrs. Oliver hopes to form positive relationships with her students. “ With the current climate there is so much more to worry about than to make sure a student can identify a simile in a poem.” She is looking forward to being the teacher that students can trust with the hard stuff in life.  (Gunner Bryson)

Tina Johnson

Mrs. Johnson is the new health occupation teacher this year at Heritage. Since starting to work here, she already likes the administration and students. “I like the way administration is very supportive, and the students are also very supportive,” she noted. 

Before coming to work at Heritage, Mrs. Johnson worked at Georgia Northwestern Technical College for seven years and has been a nurse for twenty-five years. She has nursed all around Georgia at places ranging from Hutchinson Medical Centers to Erlanger North to Delta, Hamilton, and Dalton. “I think being a nurse prepared me because teaching is just a big part of our nursing career,” she said. She really wants to pass on the passion that she has for nursing to students. “I just want the next generation to be passionate about taking care of people and providing good care,” she said.

Mrs. Johnson hopes to get students fired up and excited about learning and working on projects. “I feel like the goal post keeps getting moved [this year]; we go from face-to-face to virtual to hybrid, and so the best thing is getting students engaged with what we are learning in class.” (Gunner Bryson)

Hillary Wilson

Mrs. Wilson is a science teacher here at Heritage who teaches Biology and Environmental Science. So far Mrs. Wilson has loved the “family feel” of Heritage the most. She feels that the other staff members have been very welcoming and polite to her. Before she came to Heritage, she taught Biology and coached cheerleading at Lassiter High School in Cobb County. “I taught and coached there for nine years before moving here to Heritage.” At Lassiter, the building was very crowded with students, and she noted that Heritage has much more room for everyone. Mrs. Wilson decided to become a teacher after she graduated college at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. During that time, she was working for the local humane society and would visit local schools to give seminars about dog bite prevention with her rescue dog. While doing this, she realized that teaching was her true calling, so she entered a Masters program to be certified to teach. “As I go into my 10th year of teaching, it was the best decision I ever made,” she exclaimed. At the beginning of the year, Mrs. Wilson was hoping that we would stay in school and not do digital, so she is upset about the move to digital learning. “It just isn’t the same through a screen,” she said. Mrs. Wilson prefers to teach in person. If she could pick a song for the tardy bell, she would pick “Southbound” by Carrie Underwood. (Connor Richardson)

Kara Patrick

Ms. Kara Patrick is another new teacher joining the staff this year. She will be teaching two Introduction to Graphic Design courses and one Advanced Graphic Design course. Being completely new to the Heritage family, Ms. Patrick already feels like a General. “I already feel a great sense of unity even after only being here a few weeks,” she explained. “The administration, teachers, office staff, parapros, and all other school staff seem to be on the same team with one common goal: preparing our students for success,” she elaborated. “There is great communication and organization between all the staff that I feel will lead to a better high school experience for the students as a result.” One thing Heritage does that not many schools do is that we play music for our tardy bell, and Ms. Patrick has already got her choice of song. “Since starting here, I’ve always wondered who was in charge of the tardy bell music playlist,” she said. Her personal choice for a tardy bell song would be “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, because she “feel[s] like that would maybe encourage students to put a little pep in their step in getting to class on time.” Previous to her employment at HHS, Patrick worked as a graphic designer at a wholesale home decor company, and she helped design items that were produced and sold within the warehouse. “My previous job gave me industry experience that has proven very valuable in these first few weeks of teaching graphic design. I gained knowledge in working with the very same software that I’m now teaching students how to use here at HHS,” she explained. Patrick has always loved helping others and learning new things, which has led her to pursue a career as an educator. She says, “If a student is struggling to understand how to do something, and I can provide individualized assistance so that a concept finally clicks for them, my day has instantly been made.  I aspire to help build confidence within any student who’s maybe grown frustrated about completing an assignment and/or thinks they may never fully comprehend certain subject matter.” Amidst a very different year, Ms. Patrick hopes to be able to get into the groove of teaching and becoming more comfortable within the school. “[This year], I also hope that I can more easily adapt to/prepare for in-person, hybrid, and virtual learning. Since switching to virtual learning, I have realized that computers and chromebooks are great machines—when they choose to work properly,” she commented. “When students are physically in class, it is relatively easy to diagnose and fix problems they may have regarding the use of a certain tool within our design software,” she elaborated. “However, it’s much more difficult to talk a student through issues over Google Meet. I’m adapting to this by recording each lesson (as much as I hate hearing myself talk) for students to reference later on if they were unable to follow due to technical difficulties during the live Google Meets.” Ms. Patrick is definitely learning and adapting to the year along with the rest of us. There is no doubt, though, that she will end up victorious and be able to better navigate the world of education. We are so happy to have her join our General family and hope that by the end of this year she will be able to call Heritage home. (Briley Simpson)

Stephen Gaylor:

Before coming here to Heritage, Coach Stephen Gaylor taught and coached at Ringgold Middle School. He was drawn to apply for a job here because of the school’s “outstanding working environment,” as well the chance it gave him to “coach high school athletics.” Although Coach Gaylor loves coaching softball and baseball, his true passion is teaching. This year, he is co-teaching in both the Science and Math departments, specifically with Mrs. Ferry, Mrs. Shoelen, Mrs. Watson, and Mr. Siegel. Coach Gaylor’s #1 goal here at Heritage is to “help as many students as possible in finding ways to achieve their goals, and to be able to come to a positive learning environment each day and give their best effort.” Coach Gaylor is obviously excited to be here, and we’re excited to have him here at Heritage High School. (Miles Clark)

Tony McAllister:

Just in his first couple of months teaching here at Heritage, Coach McCallister loves the atmosphere and freedom this school has to offer. Before coming here, Coach McCallister taught for 14 years at Gordon Lee Middle School. Coach McCallister had always wanted to make the jump to high school education. “After 14 years of teaching middle school, I wanted to move on to high school. Heritage is the only place that I even considered,” he said. Coach McCallister is currently teaching World History and American Government. Although it is tough for him, Coach McCallister is adapting to the changing schedules of the school year so far and is making a great start to his career here at Heritage High School. (Miles Clark)

M. Petteys