McAuley high school begins year with new look, new teachers

50% of staff are new hires

Joplin’s McAuley Catholic high school is going through some big changes. The inside of the building itself has a new look and half of its staff members are new, but that doesn’t mean inexperienced.
The school is taking a unique approach to compete for teachers.

Students are finding the halls of McAuley Catholic high school brighter and boasting new signage.
Senior Elizabeth Motazedi reacted with praise, “I love it! I think all the changes we’ve had here are definitely for the better. It almost looks like a new school. It’s great. I love it.”

But there are new faces in classrooms too. Like Darbi Stancell, who taught math for 28 years in McDonald County and had planned to retire. She said, “I had turned down some other opportunities and said no way Jose, I’m retired but then the Lord called.”

Hers is one of 5 vacancies principal Dr. Emily Yoakam needed to fill. Dr. Yoakam started in July at the private catholic school which can’t compete when it comes to salary. So, it’s welcoming part-time teachers. Brittany Lane, teaches Honors and Dual Credit English. She works just 4 of the 7 school hours arriving around 9:30 a.m. and leaving before 2:00 p.m.

Lane said, “I have two kids I want to spend more time with, um so staying at home was a big goal for me. Full time, I was just gone too much. Part time was perfect. I love teaching. I don’t want to leave teaching. But I knew I needed to change something up and part-time was perfect.”

Students said the new teachers are making it easy to adapt by taking an interest in how they learn. Senior Gracie Gardner said, “They ask you if you like to learn visually, if you like to copy things down more or if you like to stand up and do activities.”

Teachers and signage may be new but the new principal said the goal is to return to an old standard of excellence. Dr. Yoakam said, “Whether it’s in their faith, whether it’s in their school, whether in an activity or club they’re part of, my biggest goal right now is for all of us get on the same page and um really set that bar high for our student’s excellence.”

Lane said she felt rushed teaching full time. “I didn’t feel like I could give my best to all my classes. Now, I’m walking in, I’m rejuvenated. I have everything planned. I have time to plan at the end of the day without taking time away from my family. So, it’s a really good balance for life.”

A total of five part-time teachers are on staff at McAuley and Saint Peter’s Catholic middle school, both of which are overseen by Dr. Yoakam. She said for many, teaching in the Catholic school system is a vocation itself.

And for Stancell, who’s working full time, it’s an opportunity to share. She said, “My son, who’s 29, said momma you’re not done you’ve got a lot of math and a lot of love to give kids. Go for it.”

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