This is part of a continuing series of Q&A interviews with the people of Lake View and Amundsen high schools.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your career so far?
What college did you attend?
A: I took the long route through college. I started at Clark University in Massachusetts and after two years dropped out. I moved back to my home of Los Angeles, where I attended a couple of community colleges before transferring to University of California Los Angeles, UCLA. After I finished college I attended grad school twice, at Long Island University Brooklyn in New York and at California State University Dominguez Hills in California.
What did you study?
A: At UCLA, I was a Women's Studies major with a concentration in LGBT Studies. At Long Island University Brooklyn, I received a M.S. in Adolescent Special Education, and finally at California State Dominguez Hills, I got my M.A. in Educational Administration.
Why did you choose teaching?
A: I chose teaching because at a time in my life when I was trying on many different careers, a good friend suggested I could be good at teaching. She set me up with a day at her school to visit multiple classes. I had a really meaningful experience, and it was during that time that I decided to be a teacher. I had never considered it before, and I am grateful for having had that opportunity.
Q: What classes do you teach at Lake View High School?
A: I teach English I, II, and IV; they are for grades 9, 10, and 12.
Q: Do you sponsor or coach any clubs or sports?
A: I sponsor SAGA, the Sexualities and Genders Alliance. It is a space where all students are welcome and everyone is accepted for who they are. Recently, in honor of World AIDS Day, we had a presenter come from Lurie Children's Hospital to give a lesson on the history of AIDS activism, education, and prevention. The young people were really excited and turned the event into a Health Education Service Learning Project.
Q: How do you see your students' high school experiences as similar to or different from your own?
A: It can feel very different because of technology, but also feels just the same. With social media, everything just happens so fast! When I was in high school it would take a minute for rumors to spread; now it takes like a nano second. Aside from the technology, though, I will say, it feels the same because both to me in high school and to a typical high school student today, what's most important are friends, friends, friends! I cared about school and college, but mostly I just wanted to be with my friends.
Q: What do you like best about teaching at Lake View?
A: I really like the students the most. They are a really fun group of young people; they make me laugh all the time. I also really enjoy working with the other teachers. Everyone is so dedicated to their students and the school. It's great to work in a community like Lake View.
Q: What are Lake View's greatest strengths?
A: Our greatest strengths at Lake View are the students. They work hard and are caring and compassionate.
Q: Can you describe one particularly great moment you've had as a teacher at Lake View?
A: A great moment I had as a teacher this year was when we were discussing the main character from Flight, a novel by Sherman Alexie. The students were debating if the character was real or magical, and listening to them discuss the novel, I realized I had never thought about the character in the same way. I was blown away by their analysis of him and by their constant referencing of the text to debate one another. The students are really the center of my classroom, and on that day (like many days), they taught me something new.
Q: What advice would you give to students just choosing Lake View? How can they get the most out of their high school years there?
A: My advice would be to keep an open mind and get involved with what the school has to offer. There are a variety of clubs, sports, great music, and art programs, and there are annual international trips over breaks. I would also say, remember that high school is different, it takes a while to adjust to the expectations. There is a lot more independence and responsibility.