Written by Kaley Garrett and JR Gerber.
Claudia Cruz teaches Spanish II and III here at M-A. She decided to teach Spanish because she values bilingualism as a life skill. This is her fifth year teaching Spanish; before coming to M-A, Cruz taught at a charter school in San Jose. Cruz feels that the two schools are very different from one another, especially when it comes to student population. At her old school, there were about 400 students in the entire school; Cruz was shocked when she came to M-A with its student body of 2,200. Cruz came to M-A because she wanted to work at a more diverse school, with students who have a wider range of backgrounds and abilities. In this transition, she “went from teaching native Spanish speakers to non-native speakers.” Cruz says that she is happy at M-A and loves it when students come in to talk with her so that she can get to know them on a more personal level.
Adriana Oropeza-Gamez joined the Bear community to teach Modern European history and World Studies. History has been her favorite subject, ever since she was in high school herself. After attending San Francisco State University as an undergraduate and Santa Clara University for her masters in teaching, Oropeza-Gamez is happy to be at M-A for her first official year of instruction. She embraces M-A’s unique culture, with its familiar energy that reminds her of her own high school.
Pre-Calculus teacher Manja McMills has returned to M-A following a two-year break. Throughout high school and college, McMills focused on math, her favorite subject. Why math? Because “[she’s] good at it.” This year is McMills’ 13th year teaching. Before M-A, McMills taught at a school in Bakersfield for four years. There, McMills taught eighth graders for eight years and high schoolers for a year. However, she moved to the Bay Area to be closer to her friends who live in San Francisco. When asked about the differences between her old school and Menlo Atherton, McMills finds M-A to be a lot more intense because the students dedicate themselves so vigorously to school. Often, the students here at M-A are more motivated to learn. McMills loves working with teenagers and always wants her students to exceed in their lives, be it academically or socially.
Devon Mullane has been teaching math for four years, and treasures the subject because it “concretely builds on previous skills.” Mullane taught at Redwood High School the past two years, and was a student teacher at Sequoia Community Day School. Compared to Redwood, with its maximum student population of 300 students, M-A’s population has been a big change. However, Mullane explains that he enjoys teaching at M-A because he feels that the students at M-A are so focused on their academics. If there is one thing Mullane wants students to know about him, it’s that he values his family; he strives to bring this mentality to the classroom as well.
Kierstan Roush has also been teaching math for four years; she finds the “systematic steps and logic [of math] very concrete.” Although majoring in math was very challenging and frustrating, she found that it was worth it and very rewarding in the end. Before coming to M-A, Roush spent three years at Hiram Johnson High School in South Sacramento. After her third year there, Roush accepted a position to work on Google’s self-driving cars.
But after six months, she missed being in the classroom; this began Roush’s search for a new school, one that ultimately landed her at M-A.
Roush explained that “M-A has more opportunities for students to interact with their community. M-A has so many clubs! And so many different classes for everyone to take! I find it pretty awesome and wish my high school (Casa Roble – Go Rams!) had as many classes to offer as M-A does.” She believes that “every experience is a new adventure… I am always looking for the next one. I can’t wait to read the next book, taste the next food, travel to a new place, learn a new language, and meet new people. I have traveled to foreign countries by myself, gone skydiving, ridden a motorcycle for a few years, and became an aunt.” Roush brings her adventurous outlook to the math department this year, teaching Statistics, Algebra I, and Algebra Readiness.
This is Cody Owens’ first year teaching and is excited that his experience can be at M-A. Owens currently teaches Western Civilization and loves getting to work with students individually. He enjoys M-A because of its location and believes students are very eager to work on their academics. Looking to work with students both inside and outside the classroom, Owens also coaches JV football at M-A .
Shaheen Mohammed joined the M-A community this year to teach Study Skills and English I Intensive with Krystal Burns. She has been teaching for six years and prides herself on having taught all grades ranging from 3rd to 12th. Mohammed’s first year of teaching was at Seneca Center; the last four were with Hayward Unified School District. To her students, Mohammed explains, “I was not a model student in high school. But I always knew that I wanted to go to college and have more in life. It is possible, I did it, and I can show them how.”