OHS Welcomes New Physics Teacher


Erika Hedegard in her new classroom.

Jacob Reeves, Journalist

“I have been thanked more times in the last two weeks by students than I was the entire time I taught at Yelm,” Erika Hedegard remarks. Hedegard has recently joined the staff at Olympia High School as the new AP Physics and physical science teacher, replacing Mr. O’Leary. Hedegard, who previously taught at Yelm High School, has a unique background as an educator. She had worked for 29 years at Yelm, and became the longest working staff member at the school. She stated, “I always thought that I would retire there,” but followed up with, “I am ready for a change.” 

There are a few reasons why Hedegard did not continue teaching at Yelm, but she is overall happy with the decision to make the switch. One of the major reasons that she switched to Oly this year is because of her husband and daughter. “Family is a very central part of my life” she stated, and Hedegard was worried that if she continued to teach in Yelm, she would miss spending time with her daughter as she grew up. Additionally, she has lived in Olympia the entire time she has taught in Yelm. When asked about the long commute, she expressed that she, “didn’t mind [the drive] in the mornings, but the way home was always longer.” Finally, Hedegard has a unique certification, in that she is able to teach her AP Physics class for credit through Central Washington University. Only a select number of teachers have this certification, and the ability for students to receive this credit is contingent on the qualifications of the teacher. She feels that bringing the credit to Olympia High School is a great fit for the students here, and it is yet another reason for her transition.

Hedegard’s first impressions of the students were extremely positive, and she explained, “the students’ abilities, specifically the high mathematical abilities really impressed me.” She was also shocked by the extremely large size and spread of the campus compared to where she worked previously. She happily stated, “I see more students and faculty throughout the day, and it is amazing.” Her immediate attitude towards the students, staff, and campus of Olympia High School is that of optimism and excitement, and the opinions of her new students also seem to reflect this.

Simon Trobman, Senior, was surprised to see the name “Hedegard” listed next to his AP Physics course on skyward at the start of the school year. A few weeks into the school year, he describes his experience in the class as being great, saying, “it has quickly become one of my favorite classes.” Trobman states, “I really like the structure of the class, and it feels like every day we are working on a new lab or learning a new concept.” Asher Coppin, Senior, also feels very positive towards Hedegard’s teaching style. He explains, “she is very understanding, and makes sure that we have many opportunities to learn the material”. 

With her 29 years of experience teaching at another high school, she has taught many, many students. Her unique certification, experience, and distance from the school make teaching at OHS an obvious choice, and her brand new set of students are glad to have her.