Meet some of the new teachers at Franklin middle school this year:

Living up to a standard

Kyle Heuchan spent three years working with kids who were in legal trouble and housed at the county’s juvenile detention center.

He had a bachelor’s degree in history and wasn’t sure what he wanted to make into a career. His mom was a teacher, his dad a banker. At the juvenile detention center, he taught children programming and helped them learn the basics of writing a check, for example.

He thought he should explore a different career and wanted to experience life in the business world, like his dad. He worked as an intermediary between banks and insurance companies, but it wasn’t for him.

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“I just realized I needed to get into teaching, I needed to do this,” Heuchan said. “There was a calling there that I needed to answer.”

He enrolled in the Indiana Wesleyan transition to teaching program and finished his student teaching at Franklin Community High School in January.

Now he is a seventh- and eighth-grade social studies teacher at the middle school. He’s applying what he learned at the juvenile detention center as he starts the school year.

“Building a relationship with students is probably the most important aspect of teaching if you are going to get through to them.”

He learned it from watching his mom, Joni Heuchan, a longtime teacher at Creekside Elementary before her death in 2011.

“She was regularly calling students and parents, even after they weren’t in her class,” Heuchan said. “I’ve got a little pressure on me, to be honest. I want to try to live up to that, if that is even possible.”

Making education a priority

Presleigh Hobbs, a Center Grove High School graduate, has always loved reading and writing. Getting excited about literature has always come natural for her.

Now her job is to get her students, who will be eighth-graders in high ability language arts, just as excited. She’s looking forward to finding ways to get students to engage in discussions about what they’ve read and how they interpret it.

“I’m excited to see what these kids will have to say about ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ and getting their thoughts down on paper and watching them grow,” Hobbs said.

She’ll see about 100 students each day this year between teaching four classes daily and coaching volleyball, and she’s going to work hard to build relationships with the students.

“I want to made education for them a high priority,” she said.

The learning process

Justin Armbruster has had a little more than a week to put names with faces. His goal was to nail it right away.

He’s teaching seventh-grade math and prealgebra to the middle school students, but before they dig into numbers, they’ve got to get to know each other, he said.

“If you know their name, they will see that you recognize them as a person, as a student, not just another person in the classroom,” he said.

When it comes to the lessons, his goal is to connect math back to real-life and tackle the age-old question “why do I need to know this?”

He will show them.

“It’s the learning process, and the working through a tough problem and learning to be persistent,” Armbruster said.

“Those are the skills they really need to be learning, and learning math will really help them grow those skills.”

They will be his constant focus

Darren Sible attended a small private school and had the same English teacher for four years of high school. They became a close group.

“I could tell that she loved what she was doing, and that made me love it that much more,” said Sible, one of the new middle school teachers who is teaching seventh-grade language arts.

He knows his class might not be the favorite topic for his students, but he’s going to make sure they know that he loves it, that it can be cool, that it can affect them and why it matters.

His students will be the focus of his every step, and they’ll know it.

“Once you have that relationship built, everything becomes so much easier,” Sible said. “They trust me, I trust them.”

He is thrilled to be at the middle school teaching this age group because of how fast the students grow and change.

This is his first teaching job, and he’ll make sure the students know that he was in middle school not long ago.

“I want my students to know that I don’t know everything and that I’m a lot like them,” he said. “I’m young. My middle school experience was not that long ago. I remember what it was like. Everything that happens feels massive and new and you’re figuring everything out for the first time.”

“This year of their life is going to be crazy, and they’ll look back on it and realize how much they have changed,” he said.

Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2774.