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Deffenbacher assimilates into new role, classes (VIDEO)

The English program is one of Fresno Christian’s proudest areas of academics, so when 20-year teacher Molly Sargent left the school for a job at Kerman High School late this summer, the school was forced to fill the postition. Thankfully, Amy Deffenbacher, who was hired to teach elementary, was able to step in and fill the position. By accepting the role, Deffenbacher not only teaches four English classes, but a Bible class and yearbook as well.

As an alumna of Fresno Christian, Deffenbacher wanted to return to teach on campus because she believes in the idea of Christian education. She also stands by the school’s Expected School-wide Learning Results (ESLRs), which encourage students to become critical thinkers.

“My philosophy for teaching, especially as it relates to English, is to expose students to as many different texts from around the world as possible,” Deffenbacher said. “Truly the ultimate goal is to help the students become critical thinkers and tests are just the tools we use to get to that point. To be able to send students out into the world who are able to look at things around them and make educated opinions is important to me.”

Previously living in Oregon, Deffenbacher and her family moved back to California after six years. Originally, Deffenbacher was hired on campus to teach a fifth, sixth combination class, but when the English department position opened up, she changed course.

“I missed the sunshine and I missed my family,” Deffenbacher said. “My husband and I knew it was time to come back home. The job at Fresno Christian really opened a door for us to be able to do that. So, we are really thankful we got to come back.”

Deffenbacher knew that following a teacher of 20 years is no easy task, Deffenbacher is taking one step at a time, trying to make the change as easy as possible for the students.

“It’s a little bit overwhelming because I’m following in the footsteps of such a well-loved, iconic teacher,” Deffenbacher said. “But I love it, and I’m enjoying reintroducing myself to a lot of the literature and kind of getting my feet on the ground and looking forward to what comes next.”

Senior Jonathon Nyberg feels Deffenbacher is a great addition to the school. He thinks that she really connects with the students well and will adequately prepare them for the AP test.

“She’s {Deffenbacher} very knowledgeable, and she’s really up front with us,” Nyberg said. “Because she wasn’t planning on teaching this class [AP Literature and Composition], she realizes that and is doing a great job of acclimating us to what an AP class is like while preparing herself for the class.”

By taking Sargent’s job, Deffenbacher also teaches a Bible class and directs the yearbook. Though she has no past experience with yearbook, Deffenbacher is ready to learn alongside the students.

“The yearbook is going to follow a pretty traditional format, but the theme we’re going to have fun with,” Deffenbacher said. “I’m excited about the students that are in the class. Hopefully, it will be a pretty good yearbook.”

Mikayla Messer, ’14, as editor of the yearbook, feels that Deffenbacher has done an excellent job of stepping into a position she may not be fully prepared for.

“I think she is an amazing teacher and I’ve learned a lot already in her class” Messer said. “As far as her yearbook class, she is doing a great job. She has never done a yearbook before and I think she is doing a wonderful job and is handling it very well. I greatly appreciate her presence and leadership at Fresno Christian.”

A bit overwhelmed by the enormity of work required by a high school English teacher, Deffenbacher is focused on taking things one week at a time. Though she is still adjusting to the changes, one aspect of differences from her previous schools that she enjoys is being in a Christian atmosphere.

“Because I was told about the job a week before school started, I’m looking forward to getting to a point where I’m enough ahead of the students that we all feel good about where we’re going,” Deffenbacher said. “It’s a new experience for me, having come from public schooling and having to adjust to the literature and texts at hand. It’s a treat to be able to point those back to it {Christianity} and show them what we believe and why we believe.

Nyberg was impressed by her initiative to keep the class informed about all news regarding the course. By creating a blog, Deffenbacher has increased her communication with both students and teachers, Nyberg said.

“She’s {Deffenbacher} a really good communicator,” Nyberg said. “Again, she’s very up-front, and she has impressed me with how she keeps everybody in the loop with any updates she might have. Her blog is another way she communicates well.”

Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more features, read the Aug. 26 article, Speaker challenges students to get involved.

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    Alli BreedloveFeb 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Good job! Maddie you sang great!