Stepping into the spotlight

PHS hires new theatre teacher


Photo by: Francisco Castaneda

Caitie Almond is drawn under a spotlight, about to take over former teacher Greg Shaw’s theatre teaching job.

Story by Francisco Castaneda, Photographer, Videographer

Walking into the theater room won’t be the same anymore for junior Mallory Womeldorff. She is about to experience a new legacy. The district hired Caitie Almond from Salt Lake City, Utah to take over former theatre teacher Greg Shaw’s teaching job.

The time has come to where there had to be a replacement for Shaw, principal Kelynn Heardt was one within the people in the hiring process for Shaw. It was an extremely hard and emotional experience for Heardt to find his replacement.

“The process for hiring a new drama teacher was challenging in many ways,” Heardt said. “Mr. Shaw and the legacy he built here at PHS and the community was something very special. “Attempting to find somebody to fill that position was not only extremely important, but also was emotional for us.”

Debate and Forensics teacher Julie Laflen was also one of the teachers in the hiring process to find the replacement for Shaw. Laflen felt like a chapter was over when the replacement for Shaw was found.

“Change is hard especially with the pandemic and everything. It’s been a very odd couple of years and so it will be nice just to have some normalcy with hopefully not being in a pandemic still and just being able to move forward.”

After reviewing all the candidates, Caitie Almond was selected as the new theater teacher. Heardt believes that Almond will fit in with the staff.

“Ms. Almond shared some fresh ideas for the program and shared a variety of experiences that we felt would fit well into the already established theatre program here at PHS.,” Heardt said. “Any new position brings new challenges for any educator.  Any time a coach or director takes over a program, there will be multiple challenges.  What was brought to light in Ms. Almond’s interview was the calmness and caring she displays in her demeanor.  Ms. Almond’s understanding and respectfulness of the theatre program’s loss, our school’s loss, and our community’s loss is something she will handle with compassion and professionalism.”

Almond was born and raised in Parsons, Kansas where she attended Labette County High School. During her experience she fell in love with theater., finding out later in life, she wanted to continue to share her passion for theater for others. Almond is currently teaching at Salt Lake City, Utah. 

“I attended Coffeyville Community College on a theatre scholarship and eventually transferred to PSU after deciding I wanted to teach theatre. I have spent the last four years living and teaching in Salt Lake City. I love traveling, snowboarding, animals, nature, and the arts.”

When Almond was hired, there was a mixture of emotions for senior Christopher Saman Saman began theater at the age of eight when he participated in a production of “School House Rock Live Jr” and met Shaw during the production of “All Shook Up.”

“When I heard that a new theatre teacher was hired, I was excited for the program’s future,” Saman said. 

Almond hopes to grow and diversify the theater program when she arrives at PHS. She wants students who have never taken theater to join and want’s to be there for students and encourage kids with other interests.

“I want for more students to be involved who maybe had not considered trying theatre in the past. I will also strive to expose students to new and different types of theatre experiences.” Almond said. “One of the most important things to encourage growth in the theatre program is to support students no matter what their other interests are. I want to support and encourage this by being flexible and understanding. Well-roundedness is important as an adult in our society and I believe our students should have the chance to explore their interests while in high school.”

While on the edge of a new era in the theatre program, Womeldorff is excited for what’s to come while still remembering how she got involved.

“I’m ready for next year,” Womeldorff said “I’m ready for a fresh beginning and I’m ready to live and perform through the legacy that Greg Shaw left.”