Long time teachers move forward

Taylor Spencer, Of The Talon staff

As the school year comes to a close, two teachers are retiring and saying goodbye to the Summit community.

Journalism teacher Clay Zigler and SSD teacher Debra Henrichs are the two teachers leaving this year. Zigler started teaching in 1995, and said that it took a bit of time to grow the program into what it is today.

“It took a little while to really get it the way I was hoping it was going to run but we got the kids wanting to do it as a passion. We started hanging up the photos on the wall to show hey this is my work and [then] students and staff members started to understand the need for [the program],” Zigler said.

When the students started attending field trips, Zigler said that was when they really started to become passionate and the program was strengthened.

“We started taking trips for conferences to different cities in the US and that really just kind of ignited the whole program. As cliche as it sounds when my students saw other students doing the same thing they do, they took a lot more pride in it and they really got into it after that,” Zigler said.

In addition to newspaper and yearbook, Zigler also introduced KFTN 92.7, the school’s radio station. While the station started as an internet version, it became a broadcast station in 2015.

“We were able to get the radio station established as an internet radio station at first. We called ourselves RS radio at Summit. I had no idea that four years later there was going to be an opportunity to actually get a functional broadcasting radio station and in 2014 that is what happened just by chance,” Zigler said. “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was opening the window for low power FM radio stations so I checked with the central office and the principal here at the time and they said go ahead and sure enough the FCC approved our application for a construction permit. It basically says we will give you two years to get your station off the ground. That was in 2014. In 2015, we signed on as KFTN 92.7.”

Henrichs said that she has been teaching at the school for nine years, and started teaching here after earning her master’s degree.

“I taught here for nine years. I worked 11 years prior to that at Parkway Central as a paraprofessional. I did that for 11 years and then I decided at some point to go back to school and get a master’s degree in teaching so that I could teach. I got my master’s in teaching and then I got this job and it has been great,” Henrichs said.

Henrichs said that she will be glad to be free of the stressful aspects of her job, but will greatly miss many of the people she works with.

“[I am going to miss] both my coworkers that I absolutely love and the students. Just the people because everybody here has been so supportive through my whole time here. I think that is what everybody says with any job. Not the paperwork, not the stress, not the endless meetings and things like that. And to the ladies that work next to me, I want to tell them my birthday is not Oct. 8,” Henrichs said.

As she has gotten used to the fast paced lifestyle necessary for her job, Henrichs said she is looking forward to taking her time and appreciating life when she retires.

“There’s several things [I am looking forward to]. One is going to sound really ridiculous because it’s not really an activity. It’s more of like a new way of living; [it] is not rushing. It’s hard when you have a full time job. I have three boys and then I have two grandsons as well. The other thing is to be able to spend more time with and/or help out my son and his wife with their two young kids,” Henrichs said.

Zigler said that he is fortunate to have his replacement be a former student who will help continue and improve upon the program.

“It was just my job. I did it for a long time and now it’s time to move on. My replacement, which I am really excited about, is one of my former students [aluma Grace Podjeski]. She was on my yearbook staff and she knows what needs to be done and what should be done to continue the Summit tradition of journalism. I started a lot of things here but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to change and they should change,” Zigler said. “It’s really not about me. I have all of these awards in the classroom. They’re not my awards. Those are the publications but they were earned [by the students].”

Henrichs said over the past nine years she has taught here, she has learned so many valuable lessons she will carry with her.

“I can honestly say without doubt that while I have seen my students learn from my instructions, over the nine years, I have learned way more than my students in understanding human nature, [being] compassionate and understanding different viewpoints,” Henrichs said.