Air Academy High School Welcomes New Teachers


Logan Mawhiney

Ms. Valladares wrestles with an energetic bunny after a long day of teaching.

At Air Academy High School (AAHS), there are almost 150 staff members. Although this may sound like a large amount, there is a much larger student body.

For every teacher, counselor, or secretary at Air Academy, there are almost a dozen students. Although many colleges and schools have even more crippling faculty-to-student-ratios, AAHS is always looking for new staff.

This year, the school has eleven new teachers, each with their own stories and experiences. Oftentimes, teachers fall into the profession after many years of working as something else.

“I was a veterinarian in Mexico,” said the newest edition to the Spanish department, Paola Valladares.

“I have worked at one other high school in my career so far, this one is super different. Differences that really stick out to me so far are things like: being on a military base, no bells, emotional support available for all students, students who are excited to be here,” said new science teacher Allison O’Neal

“I feel very welcome here,” said O’Neal.

Valladares had  a completely different experience prior to working at AAHS.

“I was at a Christian private school for seven years, and it’s like day and night. It’s completely different. There’s so much more acceptance here; it used to be like a cookie cutter. Completely uniform,” said Valladares.

The contrast between other schools and AAHS makes the student body’s energetic vibe stand out even more, and many teachers consider it a pleasant place to work at.

“There is a student-centered atmosphere about AAHS that is different from any other school I have taught at. I feel that there is a freedom and respect for students here that is unprecedented in my professional experience,” said new English teacher Dena O’Banion.

There is usually more to the teachers of this school than what meets the eye. Many are just like the students, with interesting hobbies and snippets people wouldn’t expect.

“An interesting fact about me is that I personally enjoy participating in forensics. It is one of my favorite hobbies. I have even earned some national titles in my style of debate,” said O’Banion.

“I lived [and taught] for 6 years in a small town in Alaska. The main industries were commercial fishing and logging. It was a very diverse community and I really enjoyed living there,”  said new math teacher Laurilyn Gregerson.

Along with Valladares, O’Neal, O’Banion and Gregerson, the other new staff members are:

  • Beth Carlson, Spanish Teacher
  • Natalie Cordasco, Paraprofessional
  • Jessica DeBoom, Resource Teacher
  • Emily Doryk, English Teacher
  • Anna Keilman, Assistant Principal
  • Haley Michael, Paraprofessional
  • Mikayla Peck, Teacher
  • Kim Sinkola, French Teacher
  • Rachel Valiquette, Science Teacher
  • Justin Walker, Custodian