New faces of West

Parkway West gained five new staff members in English, Math, History and Administration.

Kate Piffel, freshman grade level principal

1) What is your favorite thing about your job so far?

“Honestly? Everything. I am very excited to be at West. Specifically, I have very much enjoyed getting to know the staff and working with my freshmen class and Link Crew.”

2) What inspired you to be an assistant principal?

“I didn’t decide I was going to be a teacher until my junior year at Mizzou. My high school psychology teacher had a huge influence on me as a student. I thought I could be a psych teacher and coach. I graduated with my degree in psychology and transferred to UMSL for my certification. If you would have told me at 18 I’d be where I am now, I don’t think I ever would have believed you. I decided to get my degree in administration because I wanted to have options outside of the classroom. I am hoping to finish my doctorate in the spring.”

3) What did you hear about Parkway West before you started teaching here?

“West has a great academic reputation in the area, so I was well aware of the students and the academic excellence they have as a student body. I knew it was more diverse than the school I came from, which I was excited about. There are so many great opportunities here for students to get involved and I have very much appreciated the acceptance of differences the students seem to have for each other.”

4) How long have you been teaching? “I student taught and subbed at Rockwood Summit for a year before moving to Northwest High School in Cedar Hill. I taught AP Psychology, Psychology and American Government there for nine years before moving to administration. I served as an assistant principal there for six years. I also coached girls Soccer and girls Golf.” 5) What is an interesting fact about yourself that your students don’t know? “I am a huge animal lover and have three dogs at home. (I know I sound crazy.) Max is 100 lb. mastiff mix, Crash is a gordon setter and Gabby is a pug mix. I also love all kinds of music, concerts, and musical theater.”

 Mel Trotier, history teacher

1) What is your favorite thing about your job so far?

“I’m teaching history again, I used to teach English. I’m happy because I switched back to a subject that I’ve enjoyed more.”

2) What inspired you to teach this subject?

“My mom and my grandmother were both History teachers. So it’s how I grew up. It was either this or sell insurance like my dad did.”

3) What did you hear about Parkway West before you started teaching here?

“Everything. I have friends who work here, my mom works with Parkway and so I felt like I came here already having a pretty good understanding of the students, the building and other stuff.”

4) How long have you been teaching?

“This is going to be my 16th year of teaching. But I’m not that old.”

5) What’s an interesting fact about yourself that your students don’t know?

“I was once stranded on a Caribbean island and I survived for a month on a diet of shark hearts and fear. Just kidding. I do triathlons in the summer.”

Amy Thornhill, history teacher

1) What is your favorite thing about your job so far?

“So far, the department has been great. The staff I’ve known for a while from district meetings, so there was already that foundation of knowing each other. It’s been great being able to joke around with them and being in a new environment.”

2) What inspired you to teach this subject?

“I think History is like a gateway to things. It’s a good foundation for a lot of other subjects and you can apply it to a lot of other things.”

3) What did you hear about West before you started teaching here?

“West is best! Since I was in the district for 14 years at Parkway North, I hear a lot about the other Parkway schools. I heard about a lot of the obvious competition that happens between the schools. My husband is a teacher at Rockwood and he also hears a lot about West. West seems to have a high tradition for excellence, whether that be on the athletic field or test scores. Parkway West is just one of those schools every teacher would love to be at. So far the phrase West is Best has completely been fulfilled.”

4) How long have you been teaching?

“I have been teaching for 15 years since 2000. My first teaching job was actually a semester at Parkway South.”

5) What’s an interesting fact about yourself that your students don’t know?

“One interesting thing about myself that a few of my students may not know is that my son is visually impaired and I’m learning braille alongside him so that I can help him more with school.”

Patrick Troy, math teacher

1) What is your favorite thing about your job so far?

“I love how dedicated and hardworking my Algebra 1 students are. They’re really interested in the material and working really hard to be successful.”

2) What inspired you to teach this subject?

“I love math! I had amazing/inspiring math teachers in Pre Calculus and Calculus who taught me how to problem solve and work hard to get answers to problems. Math is like a bunch of awesome puzzles that you get to solve!”

3) What did you hear about Parkway West before you started teaching here?

“I student taught with Mrs. Knop years ago, so I knew a lot about West. I’ve taught in the district, so I know how great the teachers and students are at Parkway West.”

4) How long have you been teaching?

“This is my 4th year teaching. My first three were at Parkway North. Now I teach at West in the mornings and North in the afternoon.”’

5) What is an interesting fact about yourself that your students don’t know?

“I’m really into soccer. I coach soccer at Parkway North. My favorite soccer team is Tottenham Hotspur. They play in London in the Premier League.”

Chris Johnson, math teacher

1) What is your favorite thing about your job so far?

“My favorite thing about my job so far is of course the wonderful students. You guys rock.”

2) What inspired you to teach this subject?

“I love that math is a part of everything around us. Math can be used to better understand principles in sports, music, art, computers, cars, literature, science, architecture, and so much more.”

3) What did you hear about Parkway West before you started teaching here?

“Before I started working here I just heard how great the Parkway School District was. Now all I hear is ‘West is Best!’ A little cheesey, but I agree!”

4) How long have you been teaching?

“This is my 8th year teaching.”

5) What is an interesting fact about yourself that your students don’t know?

“An interesting fact about me is that I played lacrosse at Mizzou.”

Diana Fox, English teacher

1) What is your favorite thing about your job so far?

“My favorite aspect of teaching is forming relationships with all of my students. High school is such a pivotal time in a student’s life and I enjoy being a part of it.”

2) What inspired you to teach this subject?

“I believe that writing is one of the most powerful forms of communication. Writing allows one’s words, stories, and histories to live after their physical body has passed away. Literature has always been exciting to me. I love getting lost in a good book, traveling to a different time period or exploring a new world.”

3) What did you hear about Parkway West before you started teaching here?

“Before becoming a full time teacher at West I was a substitute for various school districts. What makes West stand out from other schools is the passion, excitement and eagerness to learn in all students and staff.”

4) How long have you been teaching?

“While I have been in various substitute and support staff teaching positions, this is my first year as an actual teacher with my own classroom. I am grateful that my first teaching experience will be at West.”

5) What is an interesting fact about yourself that your students don’t know?

“Something that many students may not know about me is that I am a figure skater. When I am not teaching you can find me at the ice rink coaching figure skating lessons to skaters of all ages.”