Completing the circle of education
January 9, 2007
Our local students have the opportunity to learn a bit about what it was like to be a student in the past at Tahoe Truckee High School and North Tahoe High School, just by talking to some of their teachers.
Truckee High faculty members Kirt Smart, Nick Fertitta and Josh Ivans are former Tahoe Truckee High School students and North Tahoe teachers Bridgett Paul, Erin McKee, Scott Everest and Dean Nordby are alumni of North Tahoe High School.
All the teachers I spoke to said it was great to come back and teach at their alma mater, but it was also strange teaching side-by-side with some of their former teachers and coaches. While they now have the right to call these former teachers by their first names, most find that transition a hard one to make. Once the transition is made, however, these former Truckee and North Tahoe students have really enjoyed working with their former teachers and coaches.
Today’s students are curious what school was like back in the 1980s and 1990s.
Ms. McKee says, “They always make me drag out my old yearbooks. It’s fun for them to see that connection.” Fortunately none of these teachers were students when I was at Truckee and North Tahoe High School in the 1970s. I am sure my two teenaged daughters would have a few choice questions. For some reason they don’t buy my story that we were all good kids and never did anything we were not supposed to.
When Bridgett Paul graduated from North Tahoe High in 1994 she was voted by her classmates “most likely to become a teacher.” This might be the first time ever one of those “most likely to” ended up to be correct. (Is it me, or doesn’t it just seem like being voted most likely to succeed is a sure ticket to prison?) Ms. Paul said, “My dream was to come back to NTHS and teach leadership class, and now it has come true. I love it here.” She remembers that after returning as a teacher she was walking down an empty hallway at NTHS and saw her former teacher Mr. Milani walking toward her. Her first thought was “Oh, no, I am in trouble now. He caught me in the hall when I should be in class, and then I remembered, I am a teacher. I am not in trouble.” She was still surprised when he didn’t come up and muss up her hair.
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Nick Fertitta graduated from Tahoe Truckee High in 1996. He said when he was going to high school all he wanted to do was get out of Truckee, but once you leave you realize what a nice place the mountains are.
By the time he was working toward his teaching credential, it was with the hope that he could return to Truckee. Fertitta said it was the same with many of his friends from high school ” they can’t wait to leave and then do their best to come back.
The only problem is, with the recent increases in the cost of real estate in Tahoe and Truckee, it is a tough place to get back to.
Mr. Everest and Ms. McKee went to school together at Lake Tahoe since fourth grade and graduated from NTHS in 1988. Now students at the school enjoy being part of a friendly little rivalry between the two former classmates. An example was the time when Ms. McKee returned with her class from the library only to find Mr. Everest’s entire class sitting in her classroom. Erin McKee remembers that “North Tahoe High School was different back then. We had fewer requirements for college and no AP courses. It is harder now.” Another big difference when she was a student was that “we just did what the teachers told us.
Students now are more aware and question more. They don’t just want to know the answer, they want to know why.”
Mr. Everest says, “In many ways it was still the same school as when I went there. It was special and unique to grow up in Tahoe. The new North Tahoe High School is quite different, however, and a great opportunity for the kids who get to go there.”
Josh Ivans came back to Tahoe Truckee High just a few years after graduating from there in 1992, to help coach the football team. Once back he realized how he really wanted to stay and so he went back to school and earned his teaching credential.
He summed up why a lot of former students are happy to be back working in the Tahoe/ Truckee community. “I love this area. My heart is in this community.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. The former students who are now teachers at our local high schools seem to have one thing in common. They are happy to be back, and probably having more fun now then when they were students here.
Tim Hauserman graduated many moons ago from North Tahoe High School. He writes frequently on a variety of local topics. His next book, “Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children” will be published in April.