FHC teachers make their jobs full time in an odd way


Orchestra director Andrew Pool loves teaching all the kids he gets to teach, from Central Woodlands all the way to the high school.

Teaching at three schools as a full-time job might seem like a negative situation; however, Pool disagrees.

“I admit, it would be nice to be in one location all day,” said Pool, who travels between buildings during his typical school day, “but it is a really great opportunity to see kids at lots of different levels, so teaching in multiple buildings is a really good deal. It’s kind of cool.”

Pool is not the only music director who teaches at more than one school. Laura Zilhaver, the band director, also manages this⁠—according to her⁠—burden.

“I would absolutely prefer to teach at one school,” Zilhaver said, “but I would much prefer to be full time, and in order to be considered full time, I need to teach five classes, and teaching a fifth class at the high school is not possible right now.”

To be a full-time teacher, you must teach at least five classes a day. This issue of being a full-time teacher and teaching at multiple buildings goes hand and hand.

Imagine if every student had to go to at least two schools in the same day to get their graduate requirements met–this is the reality for Social Studies and English teacher Tobin Buhk. 

I would absolutely prefer to teach at one school, but I would much prefer to be full time

— Zilhaver

“I teach in the English department at the high school and in the Social Studies department in both the middle and high school,” Buhk said. “Again, it’s just like the two different populations–there are parts of both departments that I really enjoy. Have you ever heard that variety is the spice of life? Well, I have a lot of spices, and I like spicy food.”

Buhk does not just agree with Pool, but also with Zilhaver when it comes to preferring being at one school.

“Even though I like the variety, I’ve got too many classes in too many buildings,” Buhk said, “and it’s a bit much. If I was in one department in both schools, it might be a different story, but I’m in both departments.”

Even though these teachers are forced into multiple buildings, they’ve come to the general consensus of enjoying it; however, with enjoyment comes hardship.

Schedules are always changing. Almost every other week there is an hour delay or assemblies happening seemingly at random, and for teachers who must change schools, it is even more hectic.

“Any time there is a schedule change at the high school, it does complicate what happens in Central Woodlands,” Zilhaver said. “More often than not, those kids miss out on having me there. There are so many performance expectations at the high school, [while] there’s only one concert at the 5th-grade level, so there is a little bit of guilt because I leave them in the lurch.”

Many classes can be taught by anyone as long as they have notes for what to teach and how to teach it, though questions may remain unanswered. Music is slightly different; not just anyone can teach music, making schedule changes even worse. 

Teachers’ mental state can be affected by the extra stress put on them when they teach multiple classes or in multiple buildings— on top of the stresses of regular teaching.

“It certainly adds a bit of stress to my day-to-day life,” Zilhaver said. “But, it doesn’t really change anything; I like both schools. The stress part comes in, especially when coming from Central Woodlands to the high school because I only have 10 minutes between my classes, which makes it hard to deal with any issues at the middle school, get here on time safely, and start Jazz Band at 11:35.”

The general consensus is that teaching in multiple buildings is stressful. Teaching multiple subjects can inspire similar challenges.

“I’m pretty good at not talking about the wrong thing during the wrong hour,” Buhk said, “but yeah, sometimes I have to remind myself ‘ok, third hour you’re talking history,’ and ‘second hour you’re teaching literature,’ and those are both sophomore [classes], so it’s really easy to transpose them, and I’ll say, ‘take out your history study guide’ to my second hour.”

Buhk, Pool, and Zilhaver all face a similar hardship, but one that should not be overlooked. They work hard to make their students’ education enjoyable, and students should remember that teachers are working hard, too.