Haven Welcomes New Teachers, Assistant Principal

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Haven Welcomes New Teachers, Assistant Principal

Evelyn Meeker, Editor-in-Chief

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Mr. Chris Matsanka is the new Strath Haven High School assistant principal. Before moving to the high school, he taught at the middle school for eight years. Mr. Matsanka recalls the amount of support from his fellow faculty members during this transition.
“It was evident that they cared about me as much as I cared about them.”
Entering this new environment, Matsanka wants students to understand his care for them as well.
“Any decision I make,” he said. “It’s for the well being of them, as well as the overall school community.”
This is especially important for the coming year, as according to Matsanka, the high school had a bit of a rough year last year. Being the positive person that he is, he hopes to help the school recover where it is needed.
Mr. Matsanka’s father worked in education for thirty-five years, and he spent his childhood going to school and on class trips with him. Not only did this inspire him to pursue education as a career, but he also got to be his father’s boss in his final year of teaching.
“I told him I was going to fire him if he didn’t approve,” joked Mr. Matsanka.
For his last meal on Earth, Matsanka would have hot wings, specifically flats, not drumsticks. When asked what scent he would be if he were a candle, he answered, “Coffee.”

Ms. Kathleen Plows has been at Strath Haven for almost one year, first as a long term substitute. She is now entering the new school year as a Visual Communications, Photography, Photoshop, and Art teacher. Ms. Plows was inspired to teach by her high school art teacher, but it took her some time and a few oddball jobs to decide to pursue it. She did freelance graphic design work, and also worked as a “dorm mom” to college students as the Assistant Director of Residence Life.
According to Ms. Plows, working in Residence Life was similar to teaching, just different skills just as managing time or doing laundry, and not in a classroom environment.
“I was scared of teaching,” she said. “But then I sort of realized I had been doing it… so I thought well, might as well try this for real in a classroom doing the subject that I love most.”
Before coming to Strath Haven, Ms. Plows worked at an all-boys Catholic school for eleven years. She is excited to be in a more diverse environment with larger, co-ed classes and various extracurricular interests.
Ms. Plows recounted the day she walked in for her interview, and a huge group of students in band passed by.
“They all had their instruments and they were really excited,” she recalled. “And I didn’t know at the time how big the band actually lives here… As I’ve gotten to know the school a little bit better, there’s a lot of energy for both academics and extracurriculars and music and arts.”
For her last meal on earth, she would have classic diner carrot cake. Her favorite movie is “Testament,” which came out in 1983. While about a nuclear disaster in a small town, she finds it strangely comforting, as a film she’s returned to countless times. She also has an elderly horse named Nelson who has one eye.

Ms. Angela McKeever is the new teacher of the Family and Consumer Science program. Her classes include American Foods and Architectural Design, though she hopes to add a pastry design club to Strath Haven’s selection of extracurriculars as well.
Ms. Angela McKeever has wanted to teach since she was three years old. She’s worked in education since 2007 and worked as an elementary school teacher before transitioning to high school. People around her questioned how this transition would play out, but as Ms. McKeever said, “kindness goes a long way.”
“When you are so used to that being your founding principle in early childhood classes,” she said, “bringing that to a high school class is beneficial.”
Ms. McKeever also stressed the importance and uniqueness of family and consumer science classes, where students are able to learn life skills and have a break from the usual routine.
“It’s a class where it doesn’t matter if you are an AP student or a struggling student,” she explained. “You come in here, and it’s like an even playing field. So it’s a place that anyone can really shine.”
If Ms. McKeever were an animal, she would be a dog because she is loyal and follows instructions well. The first meal she learned to cook by herself was boxed cake, then fried chicken, and her last meal on earth would be pizza.
Her sons are also particularly excited for her to teach at Strath Haven because they love the superhero Black Panther, which seems like a fair connection.

Ms. Virginia Place is a new long term substitute at Strath Haven. She will be teaching geometry, as well as advanced algebra two. This is her second year of teaching, after being a long term substitute at Penncrest. Before going back to school to pursue a career in education, Ms. Place had her undergraduate degree in economics and worked in consulting for nine years.
Now, coming into a new year in a new place, her goal as a relatively new teacher is to become a better one. She is also interested in the school community, and hopes to learn more about the clubs and attend some sports games
“You go because you’re supposed to,” she explained in reference to being a teacher or student. “But it’s the extracurriculars that make you glad you came.”
Ms. Place frequently watches the Harry Potter and Avengers movies with her family. Her last meal on earth would be a burger, fries, a diet coke, and cookie dough ice cream with a warm brownie (yum). If she were a candle, she would be vanilla scented, because it is pleasant and inoffensive.