Barker searches for Chinese, German teacher

Barker searches for Chinese, German teacher

Conrad Sullivan

German teacher Judy Potter instructs her AP German class on proper tense structure. As Potter and Chinese teacher Fen-Weh Koh will leave at the end of the year, the search to fill their spots is currently underway.

Leah Polakoff, Reporter

JC can say “Zài Jiàn” and “Auf Wiedersehen” to two foreign language teachers, as Chinese teacher Fen-Whey Koh and German teacher Judy Potter are leaving at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

Koh is departing from the JC community because of her long commute, while Potter is retiring after 35 years of teaching.

Principal Paul Barker has already begun searching for their replacements, and has found two possible candidates for each position. Although Barker said he usually has around six candidates to choose from for a new job opening, finding two new foreign language teachers hasn’t stirred any panic yet.

“I wouldn’t characterize this as a problem yet,” Barker said. “I think we’re in good shape for finding replacements.”

While Koh and Potter are not involved in the decision of who gets hired, they are both slightly involved in the interviewing  procedure. “Mr. Barker brings in candidates so I can evaluate their German. Other than that, I’m not really involved in the process,” Potter said.

Barker will bring the applicants to the school for an interview, have them speak with the current foreign language teacher, and then have them teach a demonstration class. The current foreign language teacher then tells Barker how well they spoke the language. “I’m not the person who decides, but I’m very positive about the whole thing. I feel like I’m helping the process along,” Koh said.

There are several factors Barker considers when interviewing an applicant. How well the person speaks the foreign language, how well they speak English, and a Masters Degree and experience are preferred. “Hiring can be tricky, everybody puts their best foot forward in interviews. But I think most of the time we do a pretty good job with hiring,” Barker said.

If the present foreign language teacher knows a person they believe will be a good candidate, Barker is willing to interview them. “We welcome anybody they can bring to the table,” Barker said. Potter is hopeful that one of her former students will send in his application, as he is currently looking to teach.

Koh is not concerned about the prospect of finding a new Chinese teacher, despite the lack of Chinese programs in Harford County. “There are people that are waiting to teach, we just have to find them,” Koh said. Barker shares Koh’s optimism. “With six billion Chinese people on the planet, I will find a teacher,” Barker said.

“The Chinese language is growing in popularity all over the country, and what we have here [at JC] is a small growth. But eventually, we will have people who want to teach,” Koh said. “Right now, we are the building blocks in educating young people who will someday teach.”

She hopes that in the next five or six years, many of her current students will come back to JC to teach as an on-going program.

There are several factors Barker considers when interviewing an applicant. How well the person speaks the foreign language, how well they speak English, and a Masters Degree and experience are preferred. “Hiring can be tricky, everybody puts their best foot forward in interviews. But I think most of the time we do a pretty good job with hiring,” Barker said.

As Currently, Potter is the only one who is concerned with the level of expertise of the candidates. She wants her predecessor to have the right amount of knowledge, without being over-qualified. But as Koh said, it’s hard to find a true replacement for yourself. “I don’t think in any situation you will find the perfect replacement,” Koh said.

Barker hopes to find the right person for each job within the next two weeks to set up contracts for the 2011-2012 school year.

Leah Polakoff is a reporter for “The Patriot” and jcpatriot.com.