Science teacher takes on added leadership role

Al Wachutka becomes new Gifted and Talented advocate


Fahmo Jama

Science teacher Al Wachutka steps into his new position as the Gifted and Talented (GT) counselor. GT is a program for students who excel in various academic areas.

David Bryant

Science teacher and new Gifted and Talented advocate Alan Wachutka said becoming the Gifted and Talented adviser brought needed change for him to continue enjoying teaching.

“I felt the change would keep me teaching longer and get out of a rut. It has been a number of years since I have done anything but teaching five classes a day for a school year, and it is a little more refreshing and gives me a new outlook on things,” Wachutka said.

Junior Cailey Hansen-Mahoney said the Gifted and Talented (GT) program makes her a more diverse thinker and provides available resources.

“In GT we learn about interesting things and try to explore our minds more. We talk about what is going on at school and opportunities that might be available to us,” Hansen-Mahoney said.

Wachutka said the change will not only benefit his students, but him as well.

“I thought it would be good for me professionally, and it’s another opportunity for me to learn some stuff. Even before I interviewed, I signed up for a GT certificate course at Hamline and will be enrolling in courses this spring,” Wachutka said.

According to Hansen-Mahoney, one of the main takeaways from the program is its ability to stay in touch with other deep thinkers like herself.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say GT betters me as a person, but I think it’s important that I have a smaller learning community of people that I know and can connect with,” Hansen-Mahoney said.

Wachutka said the GT program helped him realize multiple different paths of success for his kids.

“As a parent, I had my four kids who were all in GT programs and after raising them, all very unique, I had the opportunity to see whole different pathways to what I would say is a successful outcome and being a functioning adult in society,” Wachutka said.

Junior Neil Walsh said the change of directors will be positive for the program.

“I think Wachutka will be a good change to the class as he will have a different stance on it and make it more interesting,” Walsh said.

Hansen-Mahoney said the change will be good despite the possible change in agenda.

“I think Wachutka being the new counselor should be a good change. It’s going to be fun and even though he’s going to make some changes, that’s OK,” Hansen-Mahoney said.

Wachutka said he needs more background information in order to contribute and help the program succeed.

“I have to find out from the students, parents and staff what needs they have. I have a perception, but my perception is slanted and tainted because it’s just the perspective of me in the classroom,” Wachutka said.

According to Walsh, the program will help him face the challenges of the college admission process and general college readiness.

“I think it does better me as we talk a lot about how to prepare for the rigors of college and the application process,” Walsh said.

Wachutka said he gains from seeing individuals grow throughout the four years of high school and has hopes the GT program will help prepare students for the future.

“In the classroom you have only been stuck with the academic piece and not the other pieces of a person’s life that exist, and by the time they leave me there’s so much more from freshman to senior year as far as college and really honing in on what you wanna do next,” Wachuka said.