Coming Back to The Nest: McCoy and Buchanan come home


This is a current as well as highschool picture of Ms. Buchanan. Current picture provided by Ella Peabody. High school picture provided by Ellen Buchanan. Abbey McCoy is posing for a picture at her high school graduation. (provided by Abbey McCoy)

As a new school year begins, many new teachers go back to their old roots. One of the new teachers here at Highlands High School is Algebra 1 teacher Abbey McCoy, who has claimed her spot in room 102. 

Walking into her space, it has many different colors and a lot of room to move around. The desks are set up in pairs facing the T.V.,  and in the back of the room, McCoy’s desk watches over all of the students.

When I was a student at Highlands, we still had off-campus lunch. So, I was able to leave campus any day I wanted to for lunch to go out to eat. My friends and I would often walk to the Subway or Convenient to eat lunch, or I’d walk home to eat since I live close,” said McCoy.

McCoy starts her day off by getting ready for work immediately. After she hits the snooze on her alarm for 30 more minutes, then she makes a quick breakfast for herself and lets her dog outside.

Although things are much different from when McCoy attended Highlands, she is quickly learning her way around the school. As a new teacher, there are many new things to learn. Such as what time to get to school, the names of students, and where everything is. 

 She leaves her house around 7:05 A.M. She lives relatively close to the school, which comes in handy. Her day is full of new freshmen faces.

“When I get to school, I unpack my things, make sure my technology is charged or charging, and make copies for the day. If it’s a good morning I’ll already have my copies made which gives me a few extra minutes to sit and drink my coffee.” 

Imagine teaching at the school that you went to for high school. McCoy has come back to her high school and is teaching new students at Highlands High School. 

“I remember so much of my time here when I was a student so it can feel kind of odd being in the same rooms/hallways but in a completely different role,” said McCoy.

Highlands High school looks very different from how it looked when McCoy was a student. “When I was in school, the entire “south” side of the building was still old and not renovated – so all the English classes, social studies classes, and the gym were part of the old building.” It might be hard adjusting to all the new rules and classroom changes but McCoy has a whole school to help her through it.

Since she is teaching at her former school some of her past teachers are still here watching her continue to grow.“A lot of my teachers are still here – I counted during one of our faculty meetings earlier this year and about 20 of the teachers from when I was in school are still here,” said McCoy.

McCoy is not the only blue bird that is finding herself drawn back to the nest. Ellen Buchanan is also flying back.

 As a new teacher, starting the first day of school can be just as daunting as it is for any student: There are new names, new faces, and the pressure of teaching pupils skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. But, most of all though, a cheerful attitude is needed to motivate both the teacher and her students throughout the day. Buchanan exemplifies all of these. 

 Buchanan, a new Spanish teacher at HHS, kicks off her busy and carefully planned day by waking up at 6:15, allowing time for her morning ritual of coffee and favorite childhood breakfast, cinnamon, and sugar toast. 

Once at school, she heads to her classroom, room 207, filling up her water bottle on the way in preparation for a full day of speaking Spanish. She then takes a seat in her comfy padded chair and sets an international mood by listening to Spanish/Latin music. 

After a long day of five classes, she is exhausted and ready for a relaxing, quiet night. She likes to take peaceful walks in her neighborhood to wind down, and if her day is particularly stressful, she pulls out her palette and brushes and does a bit of watercolor painting. Buchanan then sits down to dinner and starts planning or grading school work for the days to come, in preparation for the busy week ahead. 

For Buchanan, this year is quite a change. For the last four years, she was doing the reverse of what she’s tasked with now-–teaching English to students in Spain. She enjoyed the work; it tested her knowledge and challenged her, given the new rules and directions she encountered in a foreign country. 

Whether in Spain or here in Kentucky, Buchanan’s motivation to teach runs deep, coming back to her school days here in Fort Thomas. “I was inspired to teach by my own teachers,” she says, “and wanted to give that inspiration to others.” That teaching ethic is validated by Emily Haffey, an HHS Spanish teacher who taught Buchanan. “Ms. Buchanan brings an amazing amount of energy to her classroom,” says Haffey. “She’s so excited to teach Spanish because she loves the language. You can feel that when you walk by her classroom and talk to her students.” Buchanan is now back to her original home of Highlands, ready to pass along that inspiration to her current students. “It is surreal to be back at HHS. It seems like just yesterday I was painting my face blue for the home football games and now I have my own set of keys to the school.”