Feeling butterflies on their first day, new teachers learn alongside students

Gabriella Backus, Editor-In-Chief

At the end of the past school year, Bear Creek began searching for teachers to expand its agriculture academic elective requirements. This problem was solved upon hiring Jennifer Garrett, who now teaches AG Government, AG Woodshop and AG Mechanics.
Garrett, who has been teaching for three years, said she took a position at BCHS because she wanted a job close to home in Lodi.
Garrett is no stranger to hands-on work. Growing up, her parents owned property in Jackson and raised farm animals. She also took Agriculture classes in high school.
“I love… anything I don’t have to sit still for the entire day and actually interests me,” Garrett said.
Looking to pursue AG work after high school, Garrett noted that there are only five colleges in California that offer agriculture-based courses: UC Davis, Chico State, Fresno State, Cal Poly Pomona, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Garrett attended Chico State and graduated in 2009. After her three-year teaching credential program in Manteca, she was hired in Stockton as a first-year teacher.
Garrett is enthusiastic about her classes for the 2018-2019 school year.
“I can’t wait to actually start doing projects,” Garrett said about her industrial mechanics class. “This is all brand new equipment. We are waiting for the final inspection. In woodshop, we are good to go!”
As a female teacher of male-dominated classes, Garrett is unbothered. However, she encourages female students to take the classes they want, regardless of sex.
“A lot of girls think… they shouldn’t be in there, but really, if you have an interest, you should be in there,” Garrett said. “Some of the best welders are girls; [their] hand eye coordination is better.”
She says that the separation of the sexes ends after high school.
“It’s only at the high school level that you have that stigma,” Garrett said. “Either you get over it, or you have to take it.”

Michael Del Carlo has come to the aid of Bear Creek’s special education staff as a new LS Math 1, LS English, and LS Science teacher.
Del Carlo grew up in Stockton and Lodi. Both his parents taught in Galt Unified, so he had an interest in teaching. He graduated from Chico State while simultaneously working with adults with special needs in Lodi. Ever since, he has been interested in working in special education..
Del Carlo is very familiar with the Lodi Unified School District. After graduating from Chico State, he taught K-6 special needs classes at Podesta Ranch Elementary School for 10 years.
An opportunity arose to transfer to Bear Creek at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, and Del Carlo accepted. Jeff Pepper, a fellow special needs teacher at Bear Creek, also encouraged him to transfer.
“I was friends with Mr. Pepper, so I knew a little bit about the school and the program here,” Del Carlo said.
So far, Del Carlo has enjoyed his decision to transfer.
“It’s great; it’s awesome,” Del Carlo said. “I like the program. It’s been fun, because at Podesta I taught the sports program, so I see the kids grown up here.”
Aside from his job, Del Carlo is juggling parenthood: his first daughter turned nine months on August 19.
“She takes up all our spare time,” Del Carlo said.

In past years, Bear Creek ceramics teachers have consistently left after only one year of teaching. Despite rumors of the position being haunted, Angela Brandow has taken up the daunting task of teaching Ceramics this school year.
Hailing from Sacramento, Brandow was unsure of what she wanted to do with her life. After taking an art class in junior college, she was reminded of her childhood love of the subject and decided to pursue an artistic career.
Having graduated from Sacramento Sac with an art degree, she tried to attend graduate school to further her artistic journey. After asking four professors to write recommendation letters, two told her she did not seem prepared enough for the rigour of graduate school. Switching her plans, Brandow was accepted to Sacramento State’s teaching credential program after applying twice, but had to prolong the year-long program after multiple anxiety breakdowns.
“The program was really hard and there was a point where I thought I couldn’t do it,” Brandow said. “I barely got any sleep, and I was really poor. I did an extra semester and it cost extra money.”
After graduating, Brandow substituted in grades 1-12 while waiting for a full-time job opening. She received offers of employment from two different school districts, but felt most comfortable at Lodi Unified School District, despite the other school district offering her ideal position, Art 1.
“When [Bear Creek] offered me the position, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it,” Brandow said. “This is an opportunity to expand my knowledge.”
Still, Brandow ran into personal challenges upon school starting.
“Even though I try not to drag my personal life into my work life, it’s there,” Brandow said. “I was feeling down and sad and depressed and I started to feel like I wasn’t a good enough teacher. I started to doubt myself.”
Fortunately, she was able to get back up on her feet after support from her fiancé and her teaching mentor.
Brandow said she tries to set a good example for students who feel scared about the uncertainty of their futures.
“I try to show students my humane side,” Brandow said. “In my room, I try to put [up] a lot of inspirational quotes; those are the kinds of things that the people who supported me told me so I posted them around to help people, but also to help myself.
Brandow doesn’t hesitate to tell students that she has struggled in her personal life.
“We need to work day by day and we don’t let [anything] stop us,” she said. “That’s how we make ourselves better.”

Last year, Spanish department members unanimously decided to sacrifice their prep period so students would not be uncomfortable with a long-term substitute after a teacher unexpectedly left. This year, they no longer have to worry about overtime: Daniela Burke has come to save the day as the new Spanish 1 teacher.
Born in Los Angeles, Burke moved to Stockton when she was 15 years old. She attended Stagg High School and, upon graduating, attended Sacramento State. She grew up bilingual: her parents spoke Spanish to her while her five siblings spoke English.
Burke is now married with two boys and a stepdaughter. Despite being a native Spanish speaker herself, her children are learning Spanish in school because her husband is not fluent in Spanish and the family speaks English at home.
Burke decided to pursue a teaching career because of her fascination for Hispanic culture; it was also easier because of her native fluency. She also strongly believes in the importance of learning multiple languages.
“I think bilingualism is very important, and so it’s an honor for me to spread [my] knowledge and share it with others,” Burke said.
Burke began teaching Spanish at Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento, but only taught for one year before she was forced to take four years off due to her son’s medical needs.
“When I got my first job, my son started having seizures,” she said. “It was really hard because I felt I had to stay home with him.”
She started searching for another teaching job when her son began to improve.
“I took a job that was much more flexible,” Burke said. “I decided to come back to teaching. The timing was right.”
Although she has only been back teaching for a month, Burke is very excited for the future.
“I’ve had nothing but fun,” she said. “I’m having a great time. The kids are fun, my team is awesome. [They are] very helpful, and they make me feel very confident and comfortable. Every day I’m learning something.”

Last year, the Spanish department found itself short a teacher, and its members unanimously decided to give up their prep periods to teach 120% capacity, so students would not have to deal with rotating or long-term substitutes. Fortunately, new Spanish teacher Juan Carlos Rangel has come to the rescue of both Bear Creek students and teachers.
Rangel was born and raised in Toluca, Mexico, but his family moved to Patterson, California in 1998. He attended San Joaquin Delta College to learn English, and then decided to complete his general education by transfering to the University of the Pacific.
Before seeking a job as a teacher, Rangel worked in the California Mini-Corps, a statewide program that provides instructional services for transitioning migrant K-12 students, for four years. He had the opportunity to work with migrant students and their families at a variety of elementary schools across Lodi School District.
Although he always had an interest in becoming a teacher, Rangel was encouraged to apply for a teaching job when he heard about the open space at Bear Creek upon attending a job fair at the University of the Pacific. He accepted the job because of the good things he had heard about the Spanish department, and because of his passion to share his culture with others.
“I chose to teach Spanish because it is my first language and I want to share it with everybody along with my culture,” Rangel said.
This is Rangel’s first year working full-time as a teacher, and he has only experienced positivity.
“My time here has been great,” Rangel said. “Everybody has been super supportive and I feel welcome. For my students, they all are great! I couldn’t have better students for my first year teaching here.”
Apart from teaching, Rangel likes to collect “Catrinas,” a Day-of-the-Dead doll-like collectible, and spending time with family and friends.