Spotlight on Teachers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / March 1, 2000

The February Spotlight on Teachers shines on a math teacher at East St.

John High School and a social studies teacher at the Re-Direction School in Garyville.

“I always wanted to teach,” says Lorraine Pyne, an East St. John High honorsmath teacher. “Even when I was at St. Peter Elementary, I wanted to teach.”Pyne teaches pre-calculus, calculus, advanced math, plus statistics and probability.

“I’ve always been a math person,” Pyne says. “I had a math teacher in highschool whom I really admired, and he really inspired me to stay in math.”That inspiration led this native of Reserve to get ta bachelor of arts degree in math from Southeastern Louisiana University and a master’s degree from Loyola University. Her love of mathematics has also kept her in teaching for34 years.

She began her teaching career in the Orleans Parish Public School System.

“When I first started teaching, I didn’t want to go back to Reserve,” admits the former Leon Godchaux High graduate.

She taught in the Orleans system for 10 years, then moved back to St. JohnParish with her husband, the late Leonard Pyne, and has been teaching here for the past 24 years.

“I’ve stayed in it so long because of the children,” Pyne says. “We have somevery good students here, and then we have some you have give that extra push.”Pyne is a traditionalist when it comes to teaching and school activities.

“I believe in the standard lecture and problem-solving method,” Pyne says. “Ialso believe in athletics and extra-curricular activities because they are all part of the process of going to school.”She also tries to make math and school as enjoyable as she can for the student.

“I try to be as creative as possible,” Pyne says of her teaching method.” Ihate to be bored, and I know students also hate to be bored.”She is really concerned over the effects of society on today’s youth. Shesays all the outside influences on students make it particularly challenging for her to teach.

“Competing with all the distractions kids have today is the hardest part of teaching,” says Pyne. “Children have changed so much because of society,and they have so much to worry about these days. This shouldn’t be.”She says new teachers just coming into the system should try and work hard to understand the students of today.

“They have so many things to worry about,” says Pyne, “and a new teacher should try and understand their worries.”Pyne will be retiring June 1, but don’t expect her to sit around the house.

“I’m not going to stay home,” Pyne says. “I would like to find another career.”When not trying to solve math problems or teach, Pyne like to play tennis, do cross-stitching and reading mysteries and thrillers by Robert Ludlum.

“I am so glad I did decide to teach,” Pyne says. “I’ve really enjoyed it; It keepsone awake and alive.”For social studies teacher Stephen Ocmand, helping out troubled kids is what keeps him going. A 12-year veteran of the St. John Parish School System,Ocmand teaches at the Re-Direction School in Garyville, an alternative school that educates students who have been suspended from other schools in the system.

This is a particular challenge to teachers like Ocmand because students at the Re-Direction School are only there for 45 days, and in that time the faculty has to turn these kids around.

“I want to help kids out,” says Ocmand. “I want to help those kids with specialneeds.”This is Ocmand’s second year at the Re-Direction School, and he really likes the challenge.

“You’re dealing with a whole range of students and only have 45 days to help some of these kids,” says Ocmand. “And these kids are learning how to learn. It is a continuous process and a continuous challenge.”He wasn’t always a teacher. That’s a profession he came into late.”My grandfather wanted me to be a lawyer, but my grandmother wanted me to be a teacher,” Ocmand says.

After going to LSU, Nicholls State University and Southeastern, Ocmand got a degree in liberal arts. While waiting to get into law school he got a job as asafety consultant with an oil company.

After the oil business went bust in Louisiana, Ocmand went back to school and got his teaching certificate.

“I really enjoy teaching,” admits Ocmand. “I don’t regret it at all. I just wish Ihad gotten into it earlier.”He says his former career in the oil industry has made him a better teacher.

“It has made it easier for me to relate to the kids,” Ocmand says. “I can alsoteach them how to go out and get jobs, and how to get good skills to get those jobs.”His career outside of school also made him realize how important an education is.

“All these kids have got to understand how important it is to read and write and to be able to think critically,” says Ocmand.

The hardest part of teaching for Ocmand is getting parental support for the schools.

“When parents are involved, education is so much easer,” Ocmand says.

A parent of two high school children himself, Ocmand and his wife keep busy when he isn’t teaching.

“Gardening is a big thing with me,” says Ocmand, “my wife and I also like the arts. We go to museums, the theater and concerts. Plus, I do a little huntingand fishing.”The best thing about teaching for Ocmand is seeing the students after they get out of school.

“Seeing a former student and have them telling you how well they are doing is very satisfying,” says Ocmand. “Knowing they realize that discipline isimportant is good feeling. They got past all that childishness and are gettingon with life.”Back to Top

Back to Leisure Headlines

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

Internet services provided by NeoSoft.

Best viewed with 3.0 or higher