New Social Studies Teacher Adapts to Staples Atmosphere Chelsea Fox '19

Navigating the halls of Staples High School can be hard for anyone who is new. However, imagine being new in the middle of the year. This is what new social studies teacher, Oyewole Ogunkoya, experienced at Staples when he arrived here only two weeks ago. He took the place of teacher Sheila Hirai, as she became a study skills teacher. Ogunkoya took over her U.S. History classes, along with a Contemporary World History class as well. Ogunkoya is working hard to learn the way of life here at Staples.

“It has made the job more work, but the work you put in now will make everything a lot easier in the future,” Ogunkoya said about his replacement for Hirai.

For the past 13 years, Ogunkoya has been teaching at Summit High School and Columbia High School, both in New Jersey. Ogunkoya agrees that Staples is similar to his past schools in terms of students, teachers and demographics, but there are still aspects that he is unfamiliar with. “You’re learning the schedule, you’re learning what Schoology is, you’re learning how to take attendance and grades, you’re learning all these different things so it’s all being thrown at you at one time” Ogunkoya said.

Although there are some more subtle changes that Ogunkoya has come across, he is also dealing with larger scale issues such as how to conduct his classes. “When you take over for another teacher they have done things their own way for half the year,” Ogunkoya said, “they’ve done grading, how class is taught, just everything about class. If your teaching style is different from the person that you’re taking over for, then it could be quite a transition for the students.” Ogunkoya explained that he will hold off on implementing his full teaching style until next September.

Grace Futterman ’19, a student in Ogunkoya’s U.S. History course agreed that the constant change between teachers has been difficult. “It's been hard having 3 different teachers this year because they're all very different. It takes a while to figure out how each teacher grades and to get adjusted to their teaching styles” Futterman said.

Although the transition has been tough on the students, Erin McWhirter ’19 explained that Ogunkoya has done a good job easing the transition. “Mr. Ogunkoya has made the transition easier by asking for feedback and what we had been learning. He tries to adjust to everyone's personal needs as well.”

Ogunkoya has many expectations for students in the classroom, but he especially appreciates when a student is able to make connections through the class. “I like when students are able to put ideas together in terms of things we have studied previously with things we are talking about now, when they are able to make those connections” Ogunkoya said.

Although not everyone is a history fanatic, Ogunkoya wishes that his students are able to realize that he is. “I would hope that students can tell from the way that I teach it that it is something of interest to me” Ogunkoya added, “just in terms of bringing a certain level of enthusiasm, hopefully they're able to deduce that from my style of teaching.”

Along with starting a teaching job at Staples, Ogunkoya will be helping out with the girls’ track team. “I’ve coached track the last five years and that was one of the things that I knew if I didn't do it I would miss it” Ogunkoya said. After running throughout high school and college, Ogunkoya coached at both of his previous schools.

As the newest addition to the Staples African American community both inside the classroom and on the field, Ogunkoya’s presence is already sparking a conversation about diversity. An anonymous student said, “Bringing him in not only has created change in the classroom, but sparked excitement about the growing diversity within the staples staff. I hope Mr. O working at staples will encourage more long awaited diversity, within race, gender, and sexuality.”


Curtesy to Staples High School and Staples Running

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