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The Campanile

2017-18 New and Returning Staff: Perspectives on Paly*


New Staff

[divider]Cristopher Bautista, English[/divider]

“Last year, I taught in a storage room. I’ve been in a classroom where ceiling tiles have fallen on children’s heads. [I’m excited to] be a part of a high school experience where there are all these opportunities, and to see students take advantage of that and be grateful for that.”




[divider]Vivian Byun, Science[/divider]

“I strive to inspire students to love science and engage in it in their future. Ultimately, they don’t all have to be scientists, but I hope that they will take what they have learned in my class and somehow find a way to apply it in their futures.”







[divider]Andrew Dakopolos, Special Ed.[/divider]

“Have fun. Don’t be one-dimensional in high school. It’s easy to become one-dimensional when there are such high stakes and it’s such a high-achieving school. Don’t let academics dictate your life. There’s so much more to life. Find some things that are interesting to you that are outside the box.”




[divider]Lizzie DeKraai, English[/divider]

“I love the fresh air [and] open campus. It’s really nice to work outside with students and to get sunshine during the day instead of just staying in the classroom all day. So that’s really nice. And I love the staff in the English department. Everyone is so kind and welcoming and supportive and my students are great.”






[divider]Christina Gonzalez, Spanish[/divider]

“ I love how diverse the school is, I love that there are people from many different countries, I love that there are people who speak another language at home. My goal is that I can maybe get them excited because language is very important not only to communicate, but culture and what you can learn from other people.”




[divider]James Hamilton, Counselor[/divider]

“It’s a pressure cooker,  and I’ve noticed a number of students seem pretty stressed, and I think a big part of my role here is to come in and bring in a little reality back. Enjoy being a teenager … have a work-life balance. That’s important for the rest of your life. Be a kid and also don’t get fixated on the college craze.”




[divider]Ching-Fen Huang, Chinese[/divider]

“Paly is very intense; we’ve already had two drills before the official practice drill. Since 1988, I’ve taught Chinese. There’s more variety in people here. I feel like the students here have a lot of energy, and as a teacher that’s very exciting. The teachers here are wonderful.”





[divider]Norma Hymes, Campus Supervisor[/divider]

I love seeing the kids a little older, a little more mature and [the] staff is really really nice. I’ve really been enjoying this year. [And] the dedication– I haven’t seen such dedicated kids in a classroom. They all look like they want to be really successful and that’s really nice.”





[divider]Angelina Michael,Wellness Center[/divider]

“I actually went to Paly a long time ago, so it’s kind of nice to just see so many familiar faces, to see teachers that I had and a lot of staff that I know. Also all of the students that I’ve worked with and met with have been pretty amazing so I definitely think the people at Paly are very special.”




[divider]Elizabeth Spector, Wellness Center[/divider]

“I hope to reach more students [and] to destigmatize mental health. I hope to make the Wellness Center a place where all students feel like they can come and feel comfortable, and I hope to build connections with students so that if they ever need support, they know they can reach out to me.”








Second Year Staff

[divider]Zachary Barnes, Math[/divider]

“There is the bigger career goal of trying to make mathematics understandable to students that find mathematics challenging. It’s different for every kid, and I think I am better [at that] than I was a year ago.”







[divider]Joshua Hinrichs, English[/divider]

“I think it’s probably more than I expected, in a positive sense. I didn’t have too many preconceived notions, but I did base what I thought it would be on my experience at Gunn when I was in high school. And there are some interesting cultural differences, and that’s probably because so much time has passed.”




[divider]Paul LeGris, Science[/divider]

“[What] I’ve come to appreciate is just how supportive the teachers are and how self-motivated the students are – it’s a wonderful thing to see. I’m looking forward to the ‘aha’ moments that I see in my students. Especially in chemistry, there are certain labs and things when you see the eyes go big and the excitement happen.”



[divider]Daniel Nguyen, Math[/divider]

“The biggest thing is get involved as much as you can. Like I went to prom last year. That was a lot of fun – to chaperone it. Go to sporting events; I was there when our boys team won CCS, with a buzzer beater – that was great. Just get involved [and] be out there; try to surround yourself with Paly culture.”





[divider]Hunter Reardon, English[/divider]

“I am really looking forward to helping these kids to not only be able to extract really strong meaningful ideas from literary texts, but also to help them build really strong writing skills,[and] really strong analysis skills that they will use forever.”





[divider]Diana Rivera, Science[/divider]

“Part of why I came here [was] because I wanted to try something new and have a challenge. It was great. Pace yourself, make sure to take time to balance and be kind to yourself once in awhile, because work can be your 24/7 so it is nice to take so time to do something good for yourself.”






[divider]Mary Sano, History[/divider]

“I loved it [last year]. I just loved it. I loved my transfer over from Jordan. I think that the age difference makes a huge difference. Tenth graders are a lot more confident, more fun, more opinionated, more dynmaic and more complicated.”





[divider]DJ Shelton, History[/divider]

“My major goal last year was to not really have any homework for the class, to not have busy work and to focus on writing. My advice to new teachers would be to follow your heart in the educational sense. Paly is very accomodating to teachers if they want to try something.”





[divider]Andrea Struve, History[/divider]

“One of my goals was to constantly try new teaching techniques and incorporate technology into the classroom. I have learned to incorporate tech in at least two out of the three classes that meet every week. I did achieve that goal last year.”







[divider]Tara Vereyken, Science[/divider]

“My goals for the first year at Paly were [to] really understand how Paly works, get to know my department and learn from other people. That’s what I really wanted to be able to do; collaborate, learn and just really be there to listen. I think it’s always a learning process; there’s always room for growth.”






*The Campanile chose a sample of first and second year staff to interview for this piece.

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