Old School Teachers

SHS faculty graduates reflect on changes over the years


Draven Sanford

A Helping Hand

“It is never the kid’s fault anymore. There are no consequences at home. Students are not getting needs met at home.””

— Hattie Buford, Math teacher

It would be a huge understatement to say Scottsbluff High hasn’t changed from years ago. Who would know those changes better than current staff members who also happen to be SHS graduates.
“What I notice the most as a teacher now is the new building and all of the opportunities that SHS has to offer! Our students are very lucky,” math teacher Hattie Burford said. Burford is a 2011 SHS graduate.
“The obvious difference from 1985 to 2018 is that we are a career academy now. When I went to SHS, it was a 10-12 building with six class periods and one lunch. Class sizes were right about 200, but we only had three grades, German teacher Angie Hinze said.
Hinze is a 1985 SHS graduate.
While some things may have stayed the same, things may have not changed.
“There is a great deal of Bearcat Pride at SHS. We have several programs, both academic and extracurricular activities, that are based on tradition such as; SHS drill team, Choralaires, Mr. Largo’s classes, The Echoes, SHS football, DECA, SHS basketball, and also yearbook,” Hinze said.
There are many extracurricular activities that have been around for years and years at a time. So much time for improvement and success.
Have the kids stayed the same? Are kids more emotionally needy than before?
“I think that kids have an attachment to their phones and social media has made them unable to separate Instagram vs. reality. Also, delayed gratification is not a skill they possess.” Burford said.
“I don’t think kids are more needy, but rather have different needs. I think social media has created a whole different level of emotional stress,” Hinze said.
So does that mean social media has completely taken over students nowadays?
“With the advancement of technology, work ethic has changed in definition. Now, students have such quick access to information and so it appears that there is less work put forth in a project. Back in the 1980’s we had to research everything in books, journals, and other printed materials. It took so much more time. As with everything, work ethic can only be judged individually,” Hinze said.
Mainly, over the years, it’s not the students that have changed, it has been the advancement of technology over the years. Schools have become more lenient with phones,
“They were much more strict in the past! For example, I got two days OSS for having my phone out twice!! If a teacher were to report taking a phone from a student now, they would MAYBE get one day of ISS. Maybe,” Burford said.
Is technology all the blame though? It could be parents as well.
“Unfortunately, I think parents turn to technology to entertain their children (of all ages) more than engaging with their children on a regular basis. It’s become so easy to put an IPad, phone, or computer in front of the kids,” Hinze said.
It would be pessimistic to say that the future is going to be grim, but the future lies upon the shoulders of the students in today’s classrooms.
This discussion begs the question, were students better in previous years than they are now?
Some of teachers in this building have been dealing with teenagers for generations. They have had first-hand view of each class as they led students through these pivotal four years of life.
The question at hand is how have students differed from decade to decade? Are students better or worse, or have they really changed at all? When asked these questions to a few veteran teachers they each had varying responses.
While one of them was quick to say teens today seem more entitled than they were years ago, the majority said they didn’t blame teens for it.
“Nature over nurture,” says social studies and American history teacher Mark Moran.
Journalism adviser Terry Pitkin, who has over 40 years of teaching experience,
“Educational leaders across the country have become far more concerned about graduation rates than about teaching kids to be critical thinkers and allowing them to fail. Failure can be a powerful motivator, but educational leaders run
During its more than 100 year history, the school has undergone several changes. Many teachers have come and gone as well, but there are some veterans who have enjoyed long careers at SHS.
One of those is veteran English instructor Todd Menghini.
Menghini started teaching here in 1987, making him a 21-year veteran. He has seen many generations go through his class, and witnessed how the school has changed.
“Yes, I remember teaching without computers!” Menghini said. His teaching methods have changed over the years with the advent of technology.
Menghini isn’t the only one though, social studies teacher Gary Largo is in his 42nd year of teaching.
Having to deal with students every day is no easy feat, and yet, these teachers have managed to do it for decades.
Before working at SHS, Menghini also worked at Banner County High School and in Montana, giving him extensive experience in teaching.
Certain teachers, such as Menghini, have wanted to get a change of pace and switch schools. There are also teachers who have never found another right fit.
“I have thought of teaching other places, but nothing has ever been as appropriate for me.” Special education teacher Alice Nye said.
Many teachers got inspiration in order to go into the teaching profession. It was due to the advice of one of Menghini’s college professors that he began teaching English.
Many teachers other than Menghini, have been inspired by some of their previous instructors to go into the education field.
According to Nye, it was due to her 2nd-grade teacher who left an impact on her soul she got into teaching. “I wanted to share and show what she shared and showed me,” Nye said.
Due to two history teachers, Largo decided to teach history. They encouraged him, which eventually lead to him teaching his favorite subject.
“History is the story of people and what could be more fascinating than that?” Largo answered when asked why he decided to teach his primary subject.
The veteran teachers have been able to witness many changes that have happened throughout their time. One of these changes that they all have witnessed was the move from the old school to the new school.
Another thing that has changed a lot in recent years, is the sudden addition and improvement of technology, that integrated itself into school systems and became a necessity for school work.
“I still view myself as a storyteller but have tried to incorporate technology as it has become available.” Largo said.
All the veteran teachers have had to adjust their teaching methods as technology began to rise. No longer able to rely on paper and pencil, these teachers have learned how to adapt over the years.
Each teacher still agrees on one thing. Being able to watch each of the students grow is one of their favorite things about teaching, and they will always cherish the years they’ve taught.
from it because they think it reflects badly on them and their schools.”
Pitkin would like to see students take more ownership of their education, instead of relying on others.
“Many times today, adults seem obsessed with making it as easy as possible for kids in education. About the only thing that has produced is ‘soft’ kids.’’
On the flip side, many of the teachers feel students today are more intelligent and creative than previous generations. DECA-teacher Derek Deaver described teens as “more individualistic” when describing his students.
“Environment has a large effect on teens; however, individuals control their own destiny in my opinion,” Deaver said.
What do teachers see in the future of education?
Center Section Editor
So maybe it’s not just technology changing the work ethic in students. It’s partly the parents as well.
“It is never the kids fault anymore. There is no consequences at home. Students are not getting needs met at home, which makes it difficult for the schools,” Burford said.
Overall, SHS hasn’t seemed to change all that much other than getting a whole new school.