Guy Ginsberg sports editor
Lucas Harward staff writer
U.S. History and Honors World History teacher Joanie Garratt began her teaching career at El Rodeo Middle School in 1993 and has been teaching at Beverly since 2007.
In her 21 years working in the district, Garratt has felt a sweeping change in technology
“Well when I first started teaching in 1993, we didn’t even have outside phone lines in our school. We didn’t have computers, we didn’t have e-mail, we didn’t have a phone. If we wanted to call a parent I had to wait in line for a room for a phone, so, technologically we’ve become very cutting-edge,” she said.
Garratt has also noticed that the discipline at the high school has significantly improved since she first started.
“One thing I would say is that things have gotten a lot better at the high school then when I started in 2007, I would say that for sure. The discipline has gotten a lot better, I notice a lot less outrageous things around campus. When I came here in 2007, I would witness outrageous activities, like [students] pounding on teachers’ doors and running away,” Garratt said.
Although she has witnessed those “outrageous” acts, Garratt is completely trusting in the future of Beverly.
“I will always be very optimistic about the direction of this high school, because of the teachers, the student body, and the community,” Garratt said. “One of those three components can be out of whack one year, but ultimately all three of those factors are going to keep this district headed in the right direction.”
Bill Hiatt, a freshman and junior English teacher, has worked at Beverly for 34 years. His tenure is long enough for him to have seen a definite transformation in many aspects of the school. He has seen sweeping changes in everything from technology to architecture to student interactions.
The biggest change not just for Beverly, but for the world, has been the entrance into an age of information and technology, a change noticed especially by Hiatt, who embraces technology in the classroom.
“A significant change has been the integration of technology into the classroom. [When I started] the first Macs were just barely rolling off the assembly line,” Hiatt said. “There used to be very little computer equipment. What are now computer labs were typing rooms in the old days.”
A barrier to further the use of technology, however, is the issue of funding for the equipment and network, Hiatt noted.
“Over the years the challenges have become greater because the funding, ever since I first came, has been declining. So it’s become more and more difficult over the years to properly fund the system. It takes a lot more effort to keep the whole thing afloat,” Hiatt said.
Hiatt has also noticed changes in the way students behave and interact with each other.
“There’s less of a tendency for people to group themselves by their background. When I first came, it was like let the other students sit where they wanted, and we’ll clump the Persians over here. It’s much nicer now. It’s like people aren’t as conscious of the cultural differences,” Hiatt said.
Hiatt perceives increased pressure on students as well, with colleges as competitive as ever, and the pressure to succeed higher than it has been for previous generations.
“I think students need more encouragement than what used to be the case. You have to do a little bit more groundwork to get students to do things like homework,” Hiatt said. “I know that when I first started, UCLA was accepting 75 percent of its applicants and now they’re accepting 20 percent. So, I can see how that would be discouraging and we’re working on getting people to a better place in terms of attitude with the new college counselor and related programs.”
In terms Beverly’s direction, Hiatt sees many positive things taking place, such as the campus renovation that will be taking place in the near future.
“We are in a better place financially than we were a few years ago. We are going to renew most of our buildings over the next six years. And while I agree with writers like Ted Sizer who say if you’ve got a really inspiring teacher and students who really want to learn you can park them somewhere in a warehouse and learning will still take place, at the same time there are studies that rather persuasively say that if you’re in a run-down building, the attitude isn’t as easy to sustain,” Hiatt said.
Other positive things noted by Hiatt include the introduction of the STEM program into middle schools and a plan to begin foreign language immersion in the elementary schools. The integration of high school subjects with career opportunities through programs like the Medical Science Academy is also an important addition.
“I’m an optimist and I think we will continue to move forward, maybe not always straight forward, but I think we’ll get to where we want to be eventually,” Hiatt said.