The Evolution of PHS Through the Eyes of the Faculty

Abbie Hordon, Paper Clip Staff/Writer

At Portsmouth High School the age of faculty and staff varies. However, with longevity in the teaching profession comes experience. PHS is fortunate to have numerous teachers who have seen our Clipper Ship brave the storms of society. 


David Drukker, an English teacher at PHS, has been working here for 30 years. He says there have been positive changes over the last three decades. “I do find people are nicer to each other. I think in some ways students act more mature and talk more easily to adults than they used to,” said Drukker.  

Judy Butler

Judy Butler, another English teacher for 25 years at PHS, has noticed major changes in the trust in the students and the freedom provided to them, that they now need to be “monitored relentlessly”. She has noticed the decrease in time for passing periods and lunch, limiting the time to socialize and interact outside of the classroom.  


Doreen George, a Life Science teacher at PHS for 39 years, noticed that the revisions of graduation requirements has weakened the student body. “PHS has gone through a ton of changes, some for the better, some not for the better. I just think it is always a work in progress,” George said.

David Drukker

“It is important to have more voice as faculty on what the changes coming forward will be so we can be proactive in our approach, rather than reactive,” continued George.


Butler also agrees that the curriculum has changed substantially in her time at PHS and would like to see more diversity in the faculty, curriculum and the school as a whole. 


“When I first came here, there was a real commitment to small class size, writing across the curriculum and a deep trust in teenagers and the students and I think we’ve moved pretty far away from that,” Butler said. 

Doreen George

In regards to COVID-19, Drukker has found that the increase in technology use has distanced students from one another in the classroom. He would like to see fewer computers and cell phones in class that interfere with the now in-person education.


Also regarding the aftermath of this pandemic, George has noticed that students seem to be more fragile, have built resilience, and have a hard time taking ownership of their actions or lack of actions. 


On this topic, Butler has noticed that students are different and have higher levels and rates of anxiety. “It seems like there is a disconnection between digging in and getting the work done,” Butler said. “I think they need more support, emotionally and academically.”


When questioned about the increase of safety precautions and drills, Butler says, “It is a necessary evil, we need to learn how to protect your students and yourself. The walk out was a great start. We need change in this country. Stop making crazy guns and weapons available to people,” she continued. 


“It’s unfortunate. Except for at the very beginning, most schools have been doing these drills, [but] it doesn’t matter. Maybe it helps some [but] I think if somebody just comes shooting, everything falls apart, but I’m glad we do them,” said Drukker when asked the same question.


Regarding the PHS curriculum, Butler thinks that there is not enough change and diversity. She thinks that the variety of electives, different English classes and other creative opportunities are beneficial when it comes to moving away from more traditional offerings in an educational environment.


In the Science department, George has enjoyed the change to block scheduling, making more time available for hands-on labs more often. Although, she does not agree with the “buzzwords” constantly changing meanings.


Each of these teachers have spent a lot of time observing the constant changes in our school, and they all have something positive to say about PHS.


Drukker said, “It’s a great place to work, the students are great, and I think my colleagues are great. The town is supportive of education.”


Butler said, “Try and stay positive, embrace change and keep listening.”


George said, “You have to love what you do, if you don’t love what you do then you shouldn’t be [here] because your students will know and the faculty around you will know it. The reason you’re here is because of the kids.”