Teachers Share Tight Bond

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Teachers Share Tight Bond

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It’s often apparent that teachers in the school share a common bond and friendship, but at times due to common interests, shared subjects, or time spent together, groups of teachers become close friends. One of these such groups is four of the English department teachers at Basehor-Linwood High School: Michelle Vielhauer, Aaron Schwartz, Tara Bowser, and Allyson Coy.    

The group is well known for their unique friendship, a type of brotherhood and sisterhood that is rarely seen, even within other departments. They described their relationship like a family, just like brothers and sisters that they didn’t know that they needed or wanted. With Vielhauer’s motherly disposition, Schwartz’s outgoing demeanor, Bowser’s listening ear, and Coy being the, “organized one,” according to Schwartz, the group works together rather well. But to understand why, one must first understand how they got where they are.

The first of the quartet to arrive at BLHS was Michelle Vielhauer, joining in the fall of 2006.

“Well I’m the mom,” Vielhauer said, smiling. Seated in desk, wrapped around in a circle, before the interview even started, it was easy to tell that she was indeed the motherly figure. Just watching their interaction, it was like Vielhauer was in charge, and she kept watch over the others (and by others I mean Schwartz).

The second of the squad to join was Aaron Schwartz, joining in the fall of 2008. It wouldn’t be until two years later that the first of the other two would join the family, and that gave Schwartz and Vielhauer enough time to make a connection.

“I was on the team that interviewed him [Schwartz],” Vielhauer stated. She was pregnant at the time, and still gets flak from him about it. “He describes me in such beautiful terms.” Schwartz of course defended himself, to no avail.

Schwartz described how their relationship started as more of a mentor and student kind of thing. He said that he would go to her for help, or when he had questions, but that through department lunches every day, he soon became better friends with her.

“I came to visit once,” she added, referring to the time during which she was on maternity leave, “And he looked really bad. He was walking out the door as I was walking in, and I was like, ‘Aaron, how are you?’ and he was like, ‘Ugh.’ It was bad.”

“Yeah, it was total nonverbal,” Schwartz admitted. But over the years they grew closer in friendship, as he learned from her the basics of survival at BLHS.

The next family member, Tara Bowser, joined in the fall of 2010. She said that she knew that Basehor-Linwood was the school for her because of a simple question. She had asked them why she should join the staff at BLHS, and she could tell from Vielhauer’s emotion that she cared about the school greatly.

“I really wanted to work with somebody who had that same feeling,” Bowser said, in reference to the care for students and love of the school. She knew that, out of all the schools that she’d been interviewed for, BLHS was the one for her.

Bowser and Schwartz had attended the same college, and even had the same class as each other, Women of the 18th Century. Bowser recalled him from that class, where he often read the books out loud for the class, but when asked if Schwartz remembered her from that class, his answer was simple. “No.”

The final piece of the puzzle, the last missing sister, was Allyson Coy, who joined in the fall of 2013. Allyson herself had attended this very high school, and was in Vielhauer’s class. She knew most of the administrators as well.

Fresh out of college, Coy knew some new teaching tactics that some of the others didn’t already know. Schwartz said that it was good to have someone who did all these new things. Not only could the new teachers learn from the older teachers, but the older could learn from the newer.

“I don’t know what piece of the puzzle I am,” Coy stated. “I feel like I just came into this, like, dysfunctional family…” Schwartz countered that the group is, “A well-oiled machine.”

But still, being the newest, it wasn’t the easiest to get adjusted. “You guys already had the puzzle established, and you welcomed me in, and made room for me, and that was cool,” Coy said. Bowser added that Coy is the organized one, the responsible one.

When asked what everyone else brought to the table, what pieces of the puzzle they could be, Vielhauer immediately mentioned Schwartz.

“He’s the inappropriate little brother,” Vielhauer said while nodding to Aaron. “Or big brother.”

“I think mentally little, but…” Schwartz suggested, met by a chuckle around the circle. Vielhauer disagreed, saying that he was definitely smart. Schwartz was beaming, throughout the barrage of compliments.

“He likes when we say that,” Vielhauer stated, pointing to the times when the others had complimented his intelligence.

The common consensus around the group was that Vielhauer had the experience and the wisdom to help them as they started out, and even now, seven, five, and two years later, with any problems they might have.

“She’s the common link,” Schwartz said. “Good leadership, lots of experience, open to new ideas, open to being challenge, even though sometimes that doesn’t always go well.”

“Well I think there is a genuine respect for each other,” Vielhauer added. She described how, even through the mockery that they make of each other, there is a respect that you don’t find in other places. “I’ve been in other buildings, and I’ve worked with other people, and you don’t find that everywhere.”

It was suggested that Bowser is the calming one, the one who listens when the others need to talk. She’s definitely the calming voice, the listening ear, the one who holds them together when they need to calm down.

No one member of this family is more important to the group than another. With Vielhauer as the mother, Schwartz as the annoying older brother (that being said with the utmost admiration), Bowser as the calmly spoken sister, and Coy as the youngest (and perhaps the most organized) sister, it’s easy to see that each of them hold the other three together. The BLHS English Department is home to one of the most tight-knit, strongest connections that can be found in any school, anywhere: a family was born here that will not soon disband.

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