The student news site of Potomac Falls High School

The Roar

The student news site of Potomac Falls High School

The Roar

The student news site of Potomac Falls High School

The Roar

New to the Craft: Teaching AP


Several returning teachers at Potomac Falls High School are teaching some AP classes for the first time this year. 

In August 2023, teachers returned to Potomac Falls to take on some more advanced classes for the first time, such as AP Literature, AP Precalculus, and AP Human Geography. 

Many teachers found that their inspiration for teaching the advanced class of their choice came from previous college experience. “When I started looking at the curriculum, it was very reminiscent of what I loved so much about college, where I could have these really in-depth intellectual discussions around a text, the beauty behind a text, and how it relates to the world around us,” said AP Literature teacher Sarah Nolan.

Personal interest in the curriculum was another large factor in the decision of adopting a new AP class. “I was inspired by the ‘human’ part. In school, you always learn about geography but you don’t always learn about the connections between humans and geography,” said AP Human Geography teacher Najrana Azad.

Navigating the waters of these AP classes comes with uncertain territory for most teachers. Still, the experiences so far have remained positive. “I mean, as a first year AP teacher, I’m still trying to get my feet on the ground, but my kids are great this year,” says Nolan.

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Many of the teachers report that their own teaching style in AP classes is based on the students and their individual desires to interact with the material. “Most of the students in AP are really engaged and have a lot of insightful things to contribute to class discussion,” said AP Literature teacher Holly Dobrynski. 

Having a strong relationship with their students has made a large impact on the way that these teachers have undergone the learning process for tackling their new AP class. “My kids show me time after time that they can rise to the occasion and it shows me that I can amp up my instruction,” said Nolan.

While still having experience teaching several other AP classes, one teacher has embraced another new AP curriculum because it is the first time that it has ever been offered at this school before. “I have always loved precalculus and this is a great opportunity to teach content that will allow students to potentially get college credit before taking Calculus,” said AP Precalculus teacher Jacqueline Sciortino. 

Most AP classes come with a different rigor than an academic, or even honors, course. “It’s a refreshing change from my other classes, where I have to give them a lot more leeway with deadlines and there’s very little discussion,” said Dobrynski.

In the process of developing new teaching strategies and habits for such advanced classes, some teachers find that the academic change extends beyond their AP classrooms. “I really have been taking a closer look at what I have been doing with my other classes and trying to freshen it up in terms of how I can take that higher-level thinking and apply it to my academic classes because I strongly believe that even though they are academic classes, my kids will rise to the occasion and will do very well,” said Nolan.

While all teachers are present to help guide their students on the familiar right path, these teachers are also exploring the jungles of AP alongside their students. “It is challenging because I am learning as I am teaching but, at the same time, very fun because you get to make those worldly connections that you generally don’t,” said Azad.

Currently, all four teachers express that they have plans to teach this class for another year. “The first year is always the hardest with anything new, so teaching AP next year should be a bit easier since I’ll be familiar with the curriculum and the demands,” said Nolan.

“I’m looking forward to what the rest of the year holds,” said Dobrynski.