Kidney Transplant among Reasons for Teacher Changes


Amanda Young, Staff Writer

With 1 quarter still remaining in the school year, several courses will be guided to the finish line by long-term substitutes.  Mandarin teacher Susan Olson, Honors Geometry and AP Statistics teacher Ken Ingersoll, and Chemistry teacher Rachel Eaton have each stepped away from their respective classrooms.

According to an email announcement from Principal John Walker, Olson’s departure is due to “unforeseen scheduling conflicts.” Meanwhile, Eaton has told her classes that she is taking the remainder of the school year to receive and recover from a kidney transplant.  Ken Ingersoll is currently on a leave of absence.

Sabrina Wun has been hired to finish the year with the Mandarin classes and Spencer Quam has been hired to cover the open math courses.

Coverage for Eaton’s course has required an impressive reshuffle within the science department. Current science teacher Cheryl Rego has given up her Physics class to take over for Eaton in AP Chemistry. Physics and AP Physics 2 teacher Betty Watson has in turn taken over Rego’s Physics class, and Meryl Burton has come aboard to cover Eaton’s Chemistry classes.

Students will also perform a measure of acrobatics as they try to adapt to the style of new instructors. “It’s kind of starting over in a way, like the 1st day of school. You have that fear or worry; you don’t really know this new teacher or what their rules are and stuff,” said junior Adriana Derksen, an AP Chemistry student. “But in terms of academics, I think our new teacher is trained in AP Chemistry so I don’t think it will really be a problem in making sure we learn all of the information we need.”

Eaton’s announcement came relatively suddenly, on March 19, after she learned that a match had been found for the transplant.  In an email to the staff, Eaton said, “I am excited and honored to be able to participate in a paired exchange program, which means that my brother and I are paired as donor and recipient, but his kidney will go to someone other than me and I will get a kidney from someone who is a better match for me. Mine will come from an altruistic donor in Wisconsin!”

Watson explained that, while the science department knew Eaton’s departure for an organ transplant could happen at any time, they only confirmed the exact time about 2 weeks in advance.

Watson doesn’t anticipate any major difficulties. “I’m already teaching 2nd period Physics, so teaching 1st period Physics; Mrs. Rego and I do the same curriculum, so it’s really not hard to take on another period,” she said.

“Of course, we’ll all miss [Eaton]. We’re all excited for her, because this is something she needs to do. We’re all happy for her that she’s getting this done,” added Watson.

It may be difficult for some of Eaton’s students to continue undistracted as their teacher undergoes the medical procedure however. “I think it’s more just the emotional part because I know at least me, and a lot of other people in that class, had [Eaton] for 2 years and she was our only chemistry teacher so it’s strange to change to a new teacher,” Derksen said.

Freshman Chris Ruane, whose Mandarin 1 and Honors Geometry classes have been affected by the changes, said he’s happy with his new instructors. “I feel like it’s kind of hard to have a teacher transition mid-year because you get used to the teaching style but both the teachers that we’ve gotten, I’ve liked them,” said Ruane.

Derksen is not yet certain how the change will ultimately impact her learning. “It’ll be difficult because Eaton has a very specific style of learning and if you learn well from her then the way she teaches is really good. I don’t really know how the new teacher will teach or how her style will differ,” she said.

Freshman Ellie Olson expects the transition to a new instructor to be difficult. “I was kind of disappointed because a lot of times you have things you have to do with your other teacher that you’ve had planned for the whole year. Like, we were going to do an early final and I also had to make up a test. When the [substitute] teacher doesn’t have a lot of experience with the class, it’s hard for it to go over as smoothly,” she said.

With AP Exams approaching quickly, upperclassmen have the added pressure of adjusting to their substitute’s teaching style while also preparing for the AP tests.

Luckily, according to Derksen, her AP Chemistry class has covered almost all of the material already. “We’re basically done learning information at this point, so it’ll mostly be reviewing so I’m hoping that it won’t be a huge change, reviewing with Mrs. Eaton or reviewing with Mrs. Rego,” said Derksen.