Riessen’s “Dream Team”


Natalie Larimer, Online Sub-Editor

Okay, not so much a dream team, but I have landed myself on the Design Team. This means I didn’t have a nice, relaxing day of Netflix for our day off Jan. 19, I was able to join the teachers at their in-service party. Sounds awesome right? You bet. I got the joy of sitting in front of every single teacher (adding up to 500 faculty members) and talk about my experience at JHS. The good news is that I was joined by three of my Design Team cohorts and Dr. Lunn.

The Design Team is made up of myself, senior Julian Neely, junior Karl Rasmussen, sophomore Trent Wignall, and sophomore Xiao Liu. Unfortunately, Karl had something come up and couldn’t join us on stage.

When we arrived to the middle school at 7:45 a.m. I was nearly corralled into helping Student Council with the food drive. When I explained that I was on the Design Team, I was then taken to the auditorium where I got to sit and chill with Riessen, Stratton, and Julian. We were shortly joined by Xiao and Trent, and shortly after that we were provided with bottles of water. I felt like a celebrity or something at that moment.

As we waited for the teachers to file into the seats (none of them sat in the front rows, just like they yell at us for doing), superintendent Dr. Corey Lunn gave us a little pep talk. There were four chairs with paper name plates on them, along with a chair for Dr. Lunn. He talked to us about this survey that we would be commenting on. We were then led onto the stage in front of 500 teachers. To let you know how terrified I was, my heart is pumping hard now just writing about it. I don’t do well in front of large groups and I had just consumed a large amount of coffee, so I was a bit shaky. Anyone who has been in an English class with me will know how terrible I am with speaking in front of people.

The panel lasted for half an hour and we were asked things like what we were going to do after high school, what we would do if we could design the new high school, how elementary teachers and secondary teachers could learn from each other, and how we liked the iPads. Of course, the three of my classmates said something along the lines of, “The iPads are so amazing I would die without them!” when asked that last one, but I hate the iPads, so I had to break the news to all the teachers. I think what I said was, “I’m going to change things up and say that I hate the iPads,” and somehow I got a room full of 500 educators to laugh. That’s something for the resumé.

We did get asked one question in advance. Riessen stopped me in the hallway on Friday and told me to think about one of the most memorable teaching moments of my experience. Of course, I couldn’t think of anything until midnight on Sunday. I used Weiss’ philosophy of “anyone can come to know anything” and ad libbed it from there. Honestly, with teachers like Walker, Oldham, Weiss, Shipp, and literally all teachers I’ve had, it was incredibly difficult to pick out just one moment.

After the whole panel discussion thing, I had the pleasure of sitting through a two or three hour (I lost track) long meeting thing in the library about the design of the new high school. I made a Lego figure that was supposed to represent me (it was Darth Vader on a snowboard) and presented that to the faculty members. We then sat with a group of four people and designed a rough sketch for a room that would allow for the “Four C’s”, which are collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication. My group was Riessen, Schillerstrom, Hoskins, and myself, and our room was amazing. We had whiteboard walls, a Dragon Den (only Wallace kids will remember the Dragon Den), and a “Place of Solitude.” I want that for all classrooms. It sounds so amazing.

At noon we were released from professional development, but not before taking a couple sandwiches for lunch. We were awarded $10 gift cards to Dairy Queen for our trouble, and congratulated all the way out the building. I have gotten emails, pats on the back, I even got recognized at work for speaking. I am officially famous. Spread the word.