The Return of the Trailers

The Return of the Trailers

Will Hamilton, Staff writer

The new school year has brought many changes to Chamblee Charter High School. Chamblee has new administrators, new teachers, and lots of new students. In fact, the student and teacher population has grown so much that the school has run out of class space. The solution to Chamblee’s dilemma has come in the form of floating teachers and the return of the infamous trailers.

Chamblee’s new assistant principal, Clifton Spears, is the coordinator of school facilities. Spears believes that the trailers are the best short term solution available for the rapidly growing student body. However, Spears made it a priority to try to minimize the actual number of classes that had to use trailers.

“We have a situation where, with increased enrollment, the county felt the need to add those trailers,” said Spears. “What we tried to do was switch some classes around, and opposed to having all [the trailers used for] classes, we actually put ISS in one trailer and then a trailer for the [school] psychologist.”

The other two trailers are occupied by math teachers Claudius Guynn and Rodney Brydson. Guynn’s move into his trailer was delayed due to broken air conditioning, but he has been in trailers before.

“The first school I taught at, I had a trailer,” said Guynn. “Also, when I first came to DeKalb County, I was in trailers outside of Lithonia.”

While Guynn was waiting for his air conditioning to get fixed, he was a floating teacher. This means that he did not have a classroom of his own, and used other teacher’s rooms during their planning periods to teach. Not having a room of his own has its upsides according to Guynn.

“I don’t miss some of those things about having to decorate the board,” said Guynn. “I hate that stuff. But I do miss being able to go to one place and being able to say ‘the book is right there’ if a student needs a resource.”

Guynn does not have access to resources like textbooks if he is floating in a history or science class. The only resources he can carry have to fit on the cart that he moves from class to class.

Guynn was more optimistic about being in a trailer. When the administrators asked if he would move into a trailer, he said yes because he knew it would guarantee a maximum of twenty eight students in each class, a considerably smaller number than in normal classrooms. He also looks forward to the freedom that comes with being in a trailer.

“The nice thing I have always had about trailers is I get more freedom,” said Guynn. “If I don’t have a class, I can crank up the music and no one will hear it. If I want to take a class outside, it’s right there.”

Guynn is still disappointed he “got thrown out” of his classroom and had to float. He believes that new teachers should be the ones floating, not him.

With Guynn and Brydson moving into trailers, the only floating teacher left is Angelika Otte, the new German teacher. Otte works part time here at Chamblee and floats between three different classrooms for her three class periods. She agrees with Guynn’s statement about new teachers floating, even though she may not like it.

“Yes I do [think it’s fair] and I think it mainly has to do with me being part time since I’m only here for three class periods,” said Otte.

Otte has taught at the German School of Atlanta for four years, but this is her first time teaching in public school. She has experience with being in a floating situation though.

“The German School [of Atlanta] is a Saturday school,” said Otte. “We use East Cobb Middle School, so the whole school is kind of a floater.”

However, she has found acclimating to floating at Chamblee to be difficult.

“I’m still struggling with [not having a classroom] because I cannot setup the classroom before class starts,” said Otte. “There is always a delay because I have to log out and clean up one classroom and then I have five minutes to get to the other classroom, login and set everything up again”

Because she teaches part time, she cannot come in during the mornings to set up either. She uses a binder to carry the materials she will need for her three classes each day. Otte actually has a set space in each of the rooms she floats into where she can keep textbooks and other materials, so she does not have to push around a cart. Otte is not a huge fan of being a floater, especially when it is between classrooms from different departments.

However, the trailers and floating classrooms may not be here as long as many students and teachers thought. The school has a plan in place for an expansion that will give Chamblee growing room for years to come.

“The goal from what I hear is we are going to have another building built that will house 45 new classrooms,” said Spears.

The plans are still being worked on, but according to Spears, the expansion could begin in the near future, possibly even as soon as the coming spring. But until then, teachers and students will have to be patient and accept that trailers and floating classrooms will be part of our everyday lives at Chamblee this year.