New staff members fill the halls

KHS and KACC welcome new teachers and staff for the 2020-2021 school year

Produced by Brittany Mote


Keilani Gaillard

New counselor Brandon Jackson meets with a student. Jackson is just one of the new faces in the KHS halls.

Abbi Ankrom, Reporter

This year, Kokomo High School and the Kokomo Area Career Center have welcomed several new staff members. The new staff come from a variety of backgrounds. Several new staff members are coming back to KHS. Staff members Natalie Born, Austin Colby, Ramsie Hurlock, Brandon Bishop and Amy Roe all graduated from KHS. 

Amy Roe

Amy Roe works in the guidance department as a graduation facilitator.  She is married to her best friend, Kevin, and they have three kids and two dogs. She loves all kinds of music, and collects albums to listen to on her vintage record player. She enjoys traveling, and has been all over the United States, Haiti, Guatemala and Uganda. While she has been in education most of her life, she spent the last two years working with three different non-profit organizations. She really missed education, and she is so happy to be back. 

She is a proud graduate of KHS, so it is really cool for her to be back. Roe says that there are so many incredible additions to the school since she was here, especially in the KACC and the IB program. One of the biggest changes is that not everyone goes out for lunch now. Roe has  always had a heart for education. She loves being able to connect students to new thoughts and ideas, and help empower them to be the best version of themselves. She said that she knew from a pretty young age that she wanted to work in a school. 

While working at the Kokomo Crossing, she spent a lot of time meeting with Principal Angela Blessing and Assistant Principal Mike Susong. When a position opened in the guidance department at KHS, she said it seemed like a perfect fit. Roe says her first day was great. Of course she was nervous, but the guidance department is amazing and they welcomed her in with open arms.

Roe is really enjoying getting to know the staff and students at KHS, but she is working with mostly virtual students this semester. She is sad that most of her interaction with students takes place on the computer. Roe says that it may be cliche, but she loves the quote by Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” She thinks this is so important because we can’t always control what is happening around us, but we can control or create change in ourselves. That change can have an incredible impact on others and the world.


Missy Conner

Missy Conner is new to the Student Services department. She worked at Maple Crest Middle School for seven years as the athletic secretary. Conner has also worked at Head Start. She is a 1984 graduate of Maconaquah High School and has been married for 32 years. Conner has two children and three grandchildren. 

This school year is much different from her years in high school.  The first noticeable difference is the size of KHS; Maconaquah is a much smaller school. Conner had 139 kids in her senior class.  They didn’t have computers to use and they learned to type on a typewriter, not a computer keyboard. And of course, no one had to wear a mask or practice social distancing. 

Conner said that she didn’t always want to work at a school, but once she got started, she loved the opportunity it has given her a chance to make an impact on the lives of students.  Conners says that it is also nice to have the summers off, as well as Fall Break, Christmas Break and Spring Break. Conner is a people person and does not have trouble adapting to her surroundings, so it made the change pretty easy.  It also helped that she had already known a few of the KHS employees.  Conner says her  favorite thing about the year so far is getting to know the people she is working with. 

Conner enjoys watching high school sports like basketball and football. She has attended several high school games every year. She is also a HUGE Colts fan and has had season tickets since 2012 and goes to as many away games as possible each year.  This year she is sad that she has to watch most of the Colts games on TV due to Covid.  


Ramsie Hurlock

Ramsie Hurlock just graduated from The University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne so this is her first year teaching. She is a graduate of Kokomo High School so the school itself is not much different, but Hurlock says that it is different being on the other side of the desk. 

Hurlock says she could tell from a young age that she was meant to be a teacher. She says she was constantly helping others in class and helping the teacher whenever she could. Hurlock came across this job through Assistant Principal Mike Susong. Hurlock says her first day was great and she loved seeing her students. It was easy for her to get comfortable at KHS since she knew the teachers in her hallway. Hurlock’s favorite thing this school year so far is seeing the students get comfortable with each other even with the limitations.

Hurlock is currently coaching the volleyball C-team as well as being an assistant coach for the softball team. Hurlock hopes her students and peers look up to a quote from Demi Lovato. “No matter what you’re going through, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” 


Kathleen Sloan

Kathleen Sloan is new to the guidance department. She was born and raised in Southern California. She went to Ohio Wesleyan University for undergrad and after she graduated she moved to Washington, DC. Then, Sloan decided to go back to school and studied at Indiana University the last two years, getting her school counseling degree. 

When Sloan is not working, she’s watching tv/movies or spending time with family and friends. Sloan is  also a big Dodgers fan! Sloan says that last year she was finishing up her degree and worked at Bloomington South High School as their School Counseling Intern. Sloan says that the biggest difference between when she was in high school and now is the school layout. Everything is indoors at KHS. At her high school it was more outdoors and open. The school year has been very different from when she was in school because of the masks. 

Sloan hopes to be able to work with students in different capacities. She says she always knew she wanted to work at a school, but it took her some time to figure out what type of job she wanted. Sloan was a little overwhelmed on her first day, but it was still good. The counseling team has been very helpful, patient, and supportive! 

Sloan says that her favorite part of working here so far, is getting to meet and talk with students. She says that it has been hard recognizing students because of the masks. Sloan thinks that all the technology has been helpful because it gives her, and other teachers/staff, different options to connect with students. Sloan likes to participate, or watch, is Volleyball. A quote Sloan would like to share with her students and coworkers is “Take life day by day.”


Brandon Jackson

Brandon Jackson is in his seventh year working as a professional school counselor. He started working in education in the spring of 2003 when he started working in the Indianapolis Public School system. Jackson worked in IPS and MSD Wayne Township until 2014 when he became a school counselor in Lawrence Township in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jackson says he has always had a passion for making a difference in the lives of students. 

For Jackson, being a graduate of North Central High school in Indianapolis and then attending an HBCU in Atlanta, Georgia changed his life in a good way. He says that it molded him into the person he is today. Jackson says that it would later obtain his BS degree in Radio-TV Film in the spring of 2002, and later his Master of Education degree in School Counseling in June of 2014.

Jackson says that school is different from when he was in school because the technology is something they didn’t have back then. The internet was just starting out, so he remembers when everything began. Jackson thinks they actually talked and interacted more which was good. They didn’t have phones to distract them. 

Jackson loves being at Kokomo High School, and feels lucky to come to a place where he can work with an amazing team, interact with and help some awesome students, and do what he feels is truly a calling in his life. Jackson says his favorite part about being a school counselor is just being a team player and helping students to succeed academically and graduate from high school. It is also his goal to help students plan for the future and life after high school. Jackson hopes students take advantage of the great opportunities at KHS. 

One thing Jackson loves to do, and he encourages students to do, is read every interesting book they can find.  He loves reading because it helps you to evolve as a scholar.


Addy Gabriel

Addy Gabriel is the new Transition teacher and she just graduated from Butler University. Gabriel is originally from Kokomo, graduating from Northwestern High School.

Gabriel has always wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. Her mom is an elementary teacher and so is her older brother. Gabriel says she never knew she wanted to teach high school until this year though. Gabriel says that her first day here was the best. She says it was pretty easy for her to feel comfortable. Gabriel’s favorite thing about KHS is the people. She says that the staff is so caring and supportive, and the students amaze her every day.

Gabriel says that she thinks the technology is very helpful, especially during a year like this! It allows her to communicate with her virtual students and is a great tool for her in-person students. Gabriel loves to watch basketball, and she says that she is looking forward to going to the games. She hopes her students learn to live by the quote, “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”


Deana Wright

Deana Wright is the current Human and Social Services instructor in the KACC. She has been a Social Worker for over 20 years, working for Kokomo Schools prior to accepting this job. She is married to Eric and together they have a son, Blake. 

Wright says that this school is larger than the school she attended when she was in high school. All of the COVID restrictions make it a little different than what she is used to. She has worked at a school since 2012 and has always worked with teenagers. Wright loves the school environment. She says that her first day was great; there are so many helpful people at the KACC. They have really helped her adjust to the students. Wright says that some of the different technology is extremely helpful. It has been challenging to learn all of it and to make things flow smoothly. Her favorite quote is “This too shall pass.”


Brandon Bishop

Brandon Bishop is a  2003 graduate of Kokomo High School. He and his wife live in Kokomo with their two children, Cruz (10) and Kannon (6). After high school Bishop played college baseball in upstate New York at Monroe Community College. His college career was cut short due to an injury which ultimately resulted in a chain reaction of events that led him to this career path. Bishop says that he entered the workforce at 20 years old with little experience and zero plan. Over the last 16 years he has learned many skills and developed valuable traits through on the job training, incredible mentors, and professional development books and courses. 

He is in a unique place in the education world. He actually teaches, or facilitates, part time. During 1st and 2nd period he is the facilitator of the Kokomo CEO program. His full time gig is being the Market Manager at Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Kokomo. He says that they are an independent franchise of The Coca-Cola Company in North Central Indiana. They cover approximately 14 counties where they sell and distribute close to two million cases of product annually. Bishop oversees the sales reps in the field and execution in the marketplace. He says that part of his responsibilities include local and regional marketing campaigns, digital engagement, community outreach, as well as being part of their executive team. Bishop has worked at Coca-Cola since 2006 in various capacities.

Bishop believes that Kokomo High School has morphed into a “destination” campus in Howard County. This has not always been the case. When parents and students were given the choice on what school to attend, the leadership at Kokomo School Corporation went on the offense to compete and offer amazing facilities both in the classroom and out. The resources for students and young adults has exponentially increased since the early 2000’s. Kids have a more customized learning environment now then they did 20 years ago. Bishop says that the reason he decided that he wanted to work at a school is because it is the one place that affords him a front row seat to witness the transformation of kids into young adults and students into leaders. 

Bishop says that being in education was not something that interested him early in his journey. As he has gained experience both in a professional sense and simply life, he says he finds himself gravitating toward environments and roles that help and uplift people. Schools and universities have become that connection piece for him to build into a specific generation which is what he enjoys. Bishop says that Kokomo CEO is unique. He has been a mentor with this program for the last three years and was privileged to speak to the class as well. He was part of KACC in the early stages of the rebranding efforts to the Work Based Learning program. In that program, he says that he was matched with a business student for a semester and was able to engage and provide mentorship with some incredible young adults. Bishop says that through his involvement with students and staff at KACC, he was able to get informed about Kokomo CEO. He says that like any position, when you learn of an opening and it is something you are interested in, you pursue it and seek more information. 

Bishop is looking forward to the winter sports season because, for him, there is nothing better in Howard County than a well-attended basketball game at Memorial Gym. Pep band rocking, crowd cheering, student section full as the Kats take the floor. 

Bishop would encourage students to read a book by Ryan Holiday titled, “The Obstacle is The Way.” Over the past few years it has become a book he visits often. 


Haley Cook-Peckinpaugh

Haley Cook-Peckinpaugh is a new PE teacher and head girls’ basketball coach. She went to Hamilton Heights and played college basketball at the Division II and NAIA level.

Before working at Kokomo, Cook-Peckinpaugh was a college basketball coach in West Virginia, and then became a Business teacher and varsity assistant coach at Noblesville High School for two years. Cook-Peckinpaugh decided to work at Kokomo because teaching PE has always been a dream of hers along with being a head coach at a 4A school. She says that Kokomo is the perfect fit for her basketball wise and teaching wise. She says that she couldn’t be happier about her decision to come to Kokomo. 

Cook-Peckinpaugh says her first day working here was tough because she didn’t get here until the end of August due to Noblesville holding her for 30 days. She says that fellow teacher Shawn Flanary helped her tremendously with getting caught up and explaining everything to her. She says that he is a great teacher and coach to work with. 

Her favorite thing about this school year so far has been building relationships with students and co-workers. She is the head varsity basketball coach for girls basketball, so that will consume the majority of her time. Cook-Peckinpaugh’s favorite movie of all time is Coach Carter because it shows that hard-work and determination can get you anywhere in life.