By Kaley Garrett & JR Gerber
Three Menlo-Atherton teachers, Alison Sundrstrom, Linda Shloss, and Steven Kryger, share their memories from their time in high school. We learn about their social experiences along with their aspirations as high schoolers.
Alison Sundstrom, English and drama teacher, attended Oakmont High School in Roseville, California. She says that she was a similar student to many of her current students, a “theater kid.”
After attending seven different elementary schools, Sundstrom was glad to remain at the same high school for all four years. She enjoyed staying close with all of her friends and having the opportunity to grow in a constant environment. In high school, her favorite class was advanced drama and AP Language & Composition. She enjoyed AP Lang because this was when she “grew the most as a student.”
Sundstrom claims that the biggest difference between now and then is the social media. When she was in high school, texting was just gaining popularity. She recalls students getting in trouble with their parents for texting over the limit. “Now everybody has unlimited texting.”
She also explained how today it is all about social media apps rather than texting. “It’s so easy to share with people what you are doing.” According to Sundstrom, today’s technology can hurt students because the constant electronic stimulation creates so many different distractions from studying. When Sundstorm was young, her biggest distraction was the television. Yet Sundstrom is not completely against today’s technology; she uses the app “Remind” to notify her students about their homework and various due dates.
Finally, Sundstrom understands that it is difficult and stressful to be a student. The most important thing is to “understand that there is life after high school. You will live through your math test or English essay. It’s not the end of the world.”
Linda Shloss, Western Civilization teacher, graduated in 2001 from Arcadia High School in Southern California. Shloss explained that she was a mostly a B student because she spent time participating in color guard, a spirit dance number with swords, flags, and guns incorporated in the routine.
Shloss knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was five. At first, Shloss wanted to be an elementary teacher, but after teaching kindergarteners for a short period of time, she realized that it was not what she wanted to do. Ultimately, Shloss found her passion in teaching high school history.
Shloss tries to apply her personal historical knowledge when teaching her students and is a big believer in empathy. “It’s hard not to apply your experience when being a teacher. Sometimes I hear students talking about things and it brings me back to when I was in high school.”
Shloss also sees a big difference in the comfort level between teachers and kids now. She believes kids today are a lot more comfortable asking her questions than she would have been when she was a student. As far as the current rigor level compared to her days in high school, Shloss shared, “I think the pressure that is driven by the students is much higher than when I was in the same situation.”
In 1982, Steven Kryger graduated from North Rockland High School, about an hour outside of New York City. When describing his school, he broke it down into three groups of people, the “jocks, the burn outs, and the nerdy kids.” However Kryger put himself in two groups, saying that he loved his academics and sports at the same time.
Some of his best memories of high school were when he won all three championships for football, soccer, and lacrosse for all four years. His favorite part though, was going to bonfires after games on Saturdays, and having huge parties with his entire class of 625 students.
Although Kryger explained that he did not know he wanted to become a teacher during high school, he knew he always planned on becoming a coach. In high school Kryger started a youth soccer group in his community and taught students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Kryger explained that he understands the difference between his high school experience and those of kids nowadays. He sees that the time commitment necessary to succeed in school is a lot more than before, and this has helped give him a larger perspective on how busy students are. He tries to give less homework and plays music to lighten up the atmosphere during his classes.
Kryger explained that kids, parents, and society create a lot more pressure nowadays, compared to the pressure he felt during his own high school days. When Kryger decided to go to college he explained that it was not stressful because he was the first one in his family to go to college, so anything he decided would please his family. He was recruited for athletics by the Naval Academy. The Naval Academy offered him a full scholarship if he decided to permanently attend the school. Kryger enjoyed his first couple of years at the Naval Academy but was injured during physical education and was sent to a preparatory school. After his injury, he was unable to join the military. However, at the prep school he did not feel comfortable and decided to drop out.
Ultimately, Kryger was incredibly lucky to be offered a spot at the University of Pennsylvania right after he decided to drop out of the prep school. After college he began working at Macy’s, but soon left to became a police officer. After three years as a police officer, he was shot while on duty and was forced to resign. From there he decided that he would teach high school students and has loved it ever since. Kryger’s biggest piece of advice is to “take control of your life and enjoy every moment you have. Life presents you opportunities, so take them while you can.”