On Aug. 24-25, Fairmont students returned to school, bringing with them tan lines, stories from summer, and an array of scheduling issues for their counselors. But this year, when a student goes into the counselor’s office, there might be someone different behind the desk.
The Guidance Department is now “doing more with less,” said David Elliott, the new Guidance Department chairperson. The retirement of longtime counselors Jim Williams and Sally Wallace last spring meant the department shrank by 25 percent.
However, Fairmont has added one new full-time counselor this fall. Patty Ellis worked as a counselor at Alter High School for 15 years. “I love that there are so many options for the students at Fairmont to be successful academically, socially, and in their specific interests,” said Ellis, whose office is in Central Unit.
In addition, Fairmont will have Gail Logan, a counselor who will be splitting her time between St. Albert the Great and Fairmont. She’ll be at the high school two days a week.
Under the old arrangement, Fairmont had two counselors in each of the four units, and those counselors worked with the students in their units. With one less full-time person, it was clear that duties would have to be shuffled this year.
In addition to becoming department chair, Elliott is now the counselor for all the Career Tech students. Formerly of East Unit, he says he’s “excited about the challenge” of taking on the seniors, juniors and 10 sophomores who participate in Career Tech programs. Elliott has been interested in working with the Career Tech program and is enthusiastic about the upcoming year. “I know I’m going to learn a lot,” he said.
Along with Ellis, Central Unit still has Tim Whetsel, although he will share time between Central Unit and East Unit. His office, however, is still in Central Unit. Similarly, counselor Larry Lamb will serve students in both South Unit and West Unit, but his office will remain in South Unit.
Also returning are Cheryl Abraham in East Unit, Angie Adkins in West Unit, and Lois Isaacs in South Unit.
Scheduling for approximately 2,400 students is constantly a learning experience. It’s difficult to accommodate everyone’s scheduling needs and desires. This year it’s especially tough in the English and Social Studies classes, where space is scarce. But the counselors have been working over the summer to get ready for the new year.
Fixing schedules is time-consuming, but the counselors are “almost ahead of schedule,” said Elliott. “We do the very best we can to serve the needs of the students.”
New year brings new staff
In addition to change in the Guidance Department, Fairmont acquired five new staff members this year.
Some of the “new” staff aren’t actually new to Fairmont. Amy Sparks, a special education aide, worked at Fairmont and then left to be with her children. She is now back and excited to be here. Scott Leo, a Fairmont graduate, is taking over for Karl Bremer, an Interactive Media instructor who retired last year. Leo, who formerly worked with the Columbus Clippers, an AAA baseball team, as a broadcaster and “The Voice of the Clippers,” will be team teaching Interactive Media with Laura Hutchens.
Also new to the district is Amy Webb, who will be teaching part-time in the Family and Consumer Science Department. Webb, who previously worked with the Warren County Career Center and Lakota Schools, will teach Planning for College and Work and Relationships for Life. Webb said she’s thrilled to be at Fairmont.
Two other staff members from within the Kettering School District transferred to Fairmont this year. Jennifer Thompson came from Kettering Middle School, and she will keep her same job as an Intervention Specialist at Fairmont. Becky Victor formerly worked at Indian Riffle Elementary School as a reading and classroom aide, and Fairmont Principal Dan Von Handorf says she “brings a wealth of experience” to her new job as a full-time English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) aide.
Von Handorf believes the students at Fairmont will benefit greatly from these new teachers and aides. “We found three really, really good teachers,” he said, “and all of the new staff members have some unique experience.”
The administrators had deep pools of candidates to choose from, and Von Handorf said those who were chosen come “highly recommended.”