Teacher of the Week: Ms. Ovington

Welcome back to Teacher of the Week! Each week, we’ll be highlighting a teacher or staff member here at KHS. This week’s Teacher of the Week is Ms. Ovington! Ms. Ovington is a math teacher and has been working at KHS for 6 years. Currently, Ms. Ovington teaches Algebra II and Calculus.

Who would you like to invite to dinner – dead or alive?

If I could invite anyone, then I would invite Janja Garnbret, Cheryl Strayed, and Barbara Washburn. Janja is an exceptional rock climber who won gold at the Tokyo Olympics. She is an incredibly motivated and determined person that I think would be wonderful to talk with and hear about her climbs and adventures. Cheryl Strayed wrote “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”. I backpack and hike frequently on the weekends and during vacations. I have romanticized the idea of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Something about Cheryl’s story has stuck with me since reading her book more so than any other thru-hiking memoir, so to speak with her would be an amazing experience. I read about Barbara Washburn’s story in The Accidental Adventurer: Memoir of the First Woman to Climb Mt. McKinley. Her life is just remarkable, especially given the societal expectations of her time period.

Honorable mentions: Christopher Knight (The Maine Hermit), Carine McCandless, and Chris McCandless


No names – describe your worst teaching experience.

I am surprised that I am having such a hard time identifying my worst teaching experience. Sure, I have had moments with students or parents that were less than ideal, but nothing catastrophic that immediately jumps out. I am really lucky to be able to say that.

I suppose my worst teaching experience would have been during my first year of teaching (not at this school). It sticks out in my memory because I had only been teaching for a few months and I didn’t have all of the skills necessary to manage a confrontational conversation. I had a student in Algebra 2 CP that had just transferred from another school. He was struggling in class and after checking his transcript, I believed he was in the wrong class, but being such a new teacher I didn’t quite know how to advocate for him to transfer. Both the student and the parents did not want him to get extra help 1-on-1 as that caused too much social anxiety, since the student was concerned peers would know he needed extra help. One day, I walked to my room from the copier and his mom was standing outside my door unexpectedly. She came into the conversation upset and accusatory, and I joined the conversation surprised and unsure of myself. All of this being said, the conversation did not go well, and a neighboring teacher joined the conversation and helped me end it. I was a little upset for the rest of the day. I worked with the parent and student throughout the year doing the best I could to help the student find success. Although our relationship was never perfect, we were able to work together to some extent. The conversation I mentioned helped me gain new skills and confidence. I have continued to develop these skills over the years, and am able to mediate difficult conversations today with much more success, albeit the conversations have never started at such an escalated level.


What’s the hardest thing about teaching?

The most difficult thing about teaching is trying to manage many different tasks and activities at once all day. During a given class, I will be running an activity in which I need to be facilitating and holding 1-on-1 conversations, all the while watching all students to gauge their current level of understanding and thinking of how I can adjust the activity for those that I see struggling, accelerating, off-task, bored, etc. Meanwhile, I need to be thinking of how I can adjust the next activity to transition best with the current learning that is taking place. Of course in the back of my mind are all the tasks that need to be completed once the class ends including grading, updating PowerSchool, attendance, parent emails, student emails, etc. There are a lot of plates all spinning in the air at once. It can get exhausting and overwhelming, but I have found being organized and well-prepared for all scenarios helps reduce these consequences!


What’s your teacher bliss?

Teacher bliss, for me, is when I plan a lesson that I think is really exciting and enjoyable as well as challenging and it ends up being so. The class is engaged with the activity; there is laughter and energy throughout the room. Students are challenged, but not in over their heads. My teacher bliss is when I hear “wow!” or “this is so cool!”. Phrases similar to those make all the difficult parts of teaching worth it.


Your Advice to Students:

Pursue what you are passionate about and excited about. Don’t overwhelm yourself with accelerating past courses or taking as many Honors and APs as possible. Challenge yourself academically in such a way that you still have time for the things that bring you joy, whether that is within academics or not. For me, I love staying active through rock climbing, hiking, working out, etc., and I make sure my schedule can accommodate those activities. This is what I wish I knew. I was overly focused on grades, and I wish I had spent more time doing the things I enjoyed and socializing with friends and family. Just make sure your schedule is balanced, and if not find a way to make it so.