For some students, a traditional public school just won’t work. Due to academic, behavioral, or social issues, they aren’t accepted or don’t choose to attend. In Phoenix, Arizona, those students can come to Hope High School, a small alternative public charter school where Chris Buehnerkemper ’13 serves as assistant principal.
With an interest in computers and education, Chris initially began his studies at Franciscan University in computer science. “Then I took the Foundations in Education course with Dr. Boury and said ‘Wow—I need to be in education!’”
Chris was inspired by Dr. Tiffany Boury’s passion for teaching and her expertise in middle school and special education and the way she adapted her course to meet the interests of those wanting to teach high school.
Chris chose a double major in secondary education with math as his content area. “The math department at Franciscan is very solid, with each professor passionate for the material and capable of adapting higher level material,” Chris recalls.
He was also impressed to see each professor begin the class with prayer. “They help you become a better student, a better mathematician, and a better person.”
Chris came to Hope High School right after graduating from Franciscan and taught math for several years before becoming assistant principal. He works with students running the gamut from low socio-economic backgrounds to those better off, with all ethnicities represented, though predominantly Hispanic.
“My last field experience was with Steubenville City Schools, and I had convinced myself that inner city schools were not for me,” Chris says with a smile. “But God laughed and put me here. That experience at Steubenville helped me to be ready for this.”
Chris, who is also enrolled in Franciscan’s Masters of Catholic Leadership Program, sees the value in the Franciscan focus on field experience reflections and data collection. “Now that I’m in a classroom, I realize how helpful this was. It’s so important to know your student body.”
The exposure to current educational technologies and tools was also very useful. But it is the Franciscan professors Chris cites as the core strength in the education program. “They take to heart your desire to be a teacher, and they support it.”