Meet your Riverside Social Studies Department!

David Norman, Department Chair:

This is social studies teacher David Norman’s twenty-ninth year teaching at Riverside. 

Norman moved to Durham from Chicago in the 80s for college. After graduating from Duke, he started teaching at Riverside. 

After almost three decades here, Norman’s excited to have a new class to teach. 

“I teach AP Psychology, AP Macroeconomics, and a new course I’m piloting for the district, Economics and Personal Finance,” he said. “[Students will learn] how money works, how the economy works.” 

Norman hopes the course covers information students will use for the rest of their lives, such as banking, checking, insurance, investing, saving and compound interest.

“It’s something every adult I work with wishes they learned in high school,” he said. 

Norman’s favorite thing about Riverside is the diversity.

“The wide range of abilities and talents that the school brings in year after year,” he said.

Anna Allman:

Anna Allman has been teaching at Riverside for five years. She teaches American history and AP United States History.

Allman has lived in Durham all her life.

While she is excited about the new school year, she has some concerns. “I’m excited for… getting back into what normal high school feels like, but I’m nervous because of how low staff is,” she said. I’m nervous for those kids who go to class with no teacher.”

Allman’s favorite thing about RHS are the students and staff.

“A part of me feels like it’s the students, they bring a lot of really good energy into the day,” she said, “but also we have a really incredible staff and I get to work with really great people.”

Sarah Cade:

This is social studies teacher Sarah Cade’s first full year at Riverside. She teaches world history and AP Human Geography.  

She is also known as Coach Cade, as she coaches girls and boys soccer.

Cade moved to Durham from Charlotte for college, “I’ve lived in Durham since I graduated from UNC in 2011.”

“This is my first full school year at Riverside,” said Cade. “I taught at Wake County for eight years and switched over to Riverside for my ninth.”

Cade likes the community around DPS and Riverside.

“Being at Riverside, I just feel a big sense of community, living in Durham, working in Durham, having a kid who goes to [school in] DPS,” she said. “I’m really into that, it’s a nice little family feel.”

Rebecca Fensholt:

Social studies teacher Rebecca Fensholt never intended to be a teacher, but she is glad she was forced to try it in graduate school. 

“I’m grateful for my graduate program at the University of Kansas forcing me to teach. I never thought that I wanted to teach and they made me, and I realized that I loved it.”

Fensholt teaches Civics and ESL Civics. 

“I really enjoy teaching ESL classes,” Fensholt said. “I studied linguistics in college and I really enjoy thinking about language acquisition and how to adapt materials based on a language learner’s needs.” 

She used to teach at the University of Kansas. 

“I’ve been teaching for eight years, but I’ve only taught high school since March,” Fensholt said. ”I’m a college professor and I’ve taught college for eight years, I still teach college philosophy classes part-time online.” She used to teach at the University of Kansas. 

Her favorite thing about Riverside is the students. 

“The students are so wonderful,” she said. “I have so much fun in classes; the students get really into the material and playing games.”

She feels good about the new school year, and is excited for the rest of it. 

“I feel pretty great about it, it started off strong, and the honeymoon phase ended in October but we’re still sailing smoothly.”

Janet Heape:

Social studies teacher Janet Heape has been at Riverside for 10 years and has lived in Durham for 11. She teaches Civics and AP US Government and Politics.

Her school year is going well. 

“It’s going pretty good,” Heape said. “Students are awesome; the school is great.”

Her favorite thing about Riverside is the diversity of interests and ideas. She likes that there is something that appeals to everyone.

“I love that this school has so many different interests,” Heape said. “No matter what it is that you are interested in, there’s something for everyone.”

Tyerra Jones:

Social Studies teacher Tyerra Jones is new to Riverside, but no stranger to teaching. 

“I have lived in Durham for just over 2 years,” Jones said. “This is my first year at Riverside and my seventh year in the classroom.”

Jones teaches civic literacy and African American history. She is excited about this school year. 

“[The year is] so far so good,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working with the teachers and students at Riverside.” 

“I feel the most grateful for my children,” she said. “They are awesome and the best thing I could ask for. They keep me motivated and teach me a lot about myself at their young ages.”

Gabrielle Minnick:

Social studies teacher Gabrielle Minnick has lived in Durham her whole life. 

“The only time I left was for college,” she said. 

Minnick graduated from Riverside in 2011, then came back to teach. Her eighth year at Riverside, she teaches honors world history, psychology and American history.

Minnick is very excited about the new school year  . 

“I feel like it is our first year back in a way where we’re getting back into the swing of things,” she said. 

Elizabeth Moore:

This is world history teacher Elizabeth Moore’s first year teaching at Riverside. She teaches AP World History, World History Honors, and ESL World History.

This is Moore’s third year living in Durham and has been teaching since.“I taught 2 years at Vance County High School,” she said. 

Moore is enjoying Riverside so far.

“Every school has something different and unique about them,” she said. “I like it so far.”

Robert Paton:

This is social studies teacher Robert Paton’s 31st year as an educator. 

Paton is currently teaching American history and civics, and prefers American History over its AP counterpart. 

“My skill set has always been working with students who aren’t as motivated and giving them the motivation they need,” he said. “I’m much better with that level of students.”

Paton is originally from Virginia; “specifically Newport News Virginia, which is on the coast,” he said. “I’ve [also] been in Durham for about ten years.” 

Paton’s favorite thing about Riverside is its diversity.

“It is the most diverse school I’ve ever taught in, which is very representative of America,” he said. “America is the most diverse country, which is what has made us the great country we are.”

Rebecca Stone:

Social studies teacher Rebecca Stone has been teaching at Riverside for 15 years. 

Stone teaches Avid first period. 

“Avid is an elective class that supports students that can go to college and might be the first in their family to do so,” she said. Avid gives students “the support they need throughout the school day.”

Stone has lived in Durham her whole life. Her favorite thing about Riverside is teaching her students, and the school’s diversity. 

“Riverside lets me teach the kids in my hometown in all of the ways,” she said. “It’s a really diverse school and really great people come to learn and work here every day.” 

Stone is most grateful for all of her students.

Brian Strickland:

Strickland teaches world history and coaches the men’s varsity basketball team. He was born in Durham and graduated from Riverside in 2001.

Strickland’s favorite thing about Riverside is the community.

“The community that Riverside has built over the last 30 years is finally unique,” he said. “Also the diversity of Riverside, I love it.” 

Strickland also said he wants to make a difference with his teaching.

“I wanted a chance to impact lives,” he said. “Not just change them but give them the tools to change others.”

Allison Swaim:

Seven years ago, social studies teacher Allison Swaim picked up substitute teaching as a side gig while working in radio. Now, this is Swaim’s eighth year teaching full-time at Riverside.

“I was a long-term sub for Ms. Wilson, who teaches food science, in 2013,” Swaim describes in her class intro paper. “I enjoyed subbing a lot more than I thought I would.”

Now she teaches honors and standard US history, civic literacy, and ESL-sheltered classes. 

Swaim is very grateful for the relationships in her life and loves interacting with people and teaching.

Abigail Wood:

This is Abigail Wood’s first year teaching at Riverside. Wood teaches AP government and civics. 

“I have lived in Durham for just over a year now,” she said. 

Wood is most grateful for her friends and family. Her favorite thing about Riverside is the students. 

“Everyone in my classes has been so nice and I’ve also got to meet a lot of random students,” she said.

The Hook’s teacher profile series is posted individually on our instagram @thepirateshook and by department on our website. Stay tuned for the CTE department next…

One Comment on “Meet your Riverside Social Studies Department!”

  1. Looks like and epic staff! I love how personal each of your mini bio’s were! My kids aren’t yet in highschool but I look forward to them having a staff like you!

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