Feels like home: Teachers at BC that used to be students at BC
A few students who formerly walked down the Bear Creek halls are now walking around the same campus — but as teachers.
Photography teacher Jane Somers graduated from Bear Creek in 1998. Somers was on the school’s first water polo team, chose the class color orange and created the renowned cheer, “Bruins got that, Bruins got that blueberry juice.” She also attended Bear Creek before it had a pool, theater or surrounding gates.
“I enjoyed all the activities and I liked learning,” Somers said. “As far as being [back] at Bear Creek, it’s like home to me so I don’t know if I would want to be at another school, because I have Bear Creek pride and I wouldn’t have that at another school.”
CP and AP Chemistry teacher Jimmy Nguyen graduated from Bear Creek in 2008. During his high school days, the building he currently teaches in — one of the A buildings — the theater, the weight room and the pool were nonexistent. On the other hand, Nguyen remembers the Asian Wall by the gymnasium as a place where underachievers and gang members gathered. Along with his current teaching career, Nguyen also volunteers with the badminton team, a role he’s taken on since graduation.
“[I enjoyed] the social aspects of it,” Nguyen said. “There were also a few teachers here that were able to challenge me academically.”
Spanish teacher Stephanie Calixto graduated from Bear Creek in 2010. Active in the AVID program for all four years of high school, Calixto says she was guided into the proper classes, given the deadlines for important information and ultimately prepared to succeed in college. She was also president of BC Latinos her junior and senior years. Today, Calixto is the faculty advisor for Arab Club.
“I love Bear Creek itself,” Calixto said. “It’s so diverse, and I think that’s what makes it so fun.”
English teacher Jasmine Flores graduated from Bear Creek in 2010. Flores was not only Drama Club president, but also participated in every theater production; her name can be found on a plaque in the theater display. Flores said she was able to experience the formation of the theater program in her junior year, which became her second home.
“I lived, breathed and drank theater,” Flores said.
Across the board, all of these former Bear Creek students never saw teaching as their plan after high school. Somers planned to be an animator, while Calixto planned to attend law school. Despite teaching being their plan B, C, or D, most met with obstacles before they were able to have a classroom of their own.
From being recruited by their former teachers to simply seeing a better teaching opportunity, these teachers have once again become part of the Bruin community, and they have something to say.
“If one of my former students became a teacher, I’d like to give them the heads up that I wish somebody gave me about how expensive it is to become a teacher and how little you get paid,” Nguyen said.
“I didn’t realize the work that goes into teaching,” Calixto said. “As a student, you come in and do whatever the teacher tells you, and you don’t really think about all the work that is put [in] in order to create that lesson, in order to create that day for you.”
Stressed and overloaded by the incessant flow of work, students are oftentimes too preoccupied with their grades, friends, and social lives to consider their teachers’ backgrounds and social lives outside of school. In addition, many teachers’ goals are not to solely educate students in the curriculum, but rather to teach students about life and how to apply certain skills for when they enter the real world.
“In the long run, I teach English, but I’m trying to teach people that they matter,” Flores said.
“We’re still learning and a lot of teaching…has nothing to do with teaching,” Somers said.