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Meet Los Altos’ New Staff Members

August 14, 2017

This year, Los Altos High School welcomed 21 new staff members. Read on to learn more about some of them and their summer experiences.

 

Staff Features

Photo courtesy Kristen Lastra.

Kristen Lastra will join Los Altos’ special education department as an instructional assistant.

Despite 11 years of experience in similar positions, Lastra believes that she will have to adapt in many ways.

“I’ve always done elementary school or middle school so high school is kind of like a new challenge,” Lastra said. “The curriculum is going to be more difficult.”

To meet the challenge, Lastra believes she will have to “tap into” the skills she learns as she works toward a bachelor’s in Human Services at Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont.

“It’s very useful for what I’m doing right now because a lot of my job is assisting with behavioral support,” Lastra said.

 

Photo courtesy Ariane Knapp.

Ariane Knapp, who will teach World Studies and Contemporary World Issues next year, didn’t originally plan on becoming a teacher.

As a history major at Stanford, she focused on archaeology, traveling to Belize every summer to excavate a Mayan city with the Mayan Research Program. The critical thinking skills she used to inspect artifacts as an archaeologist are often similar to those students must use when inspecting first-person accounts in history class.

“If you found a jar in the corner of the house that you’re excavating, you have to ask questions about how much can you learn from this jar and how much your guessing is reliable,” Knapp said. “The more you stretch your guess, the less reliable your guess is but the more information you learn.”

When she returned to Stanford during the school year, Knapp tutored middle schoolers, and she discovered a drive for teaching that she did not experience with archaeology.

“I really liked working with them and getting to know them, and I realized that I wanted to keep working with students and that my passion was really there,” Knapp said.

Now, she plans on adding small twists to history activities to share her passion for archaeology with her students.

“When we’re doing inquiries with documents, I try to… get students not only to analyze documents but also images and artifacts,” Knapp said. “I think it would be really interesting to work it in [the World Studies curriculum] somehow, so I’m going to ponder that.”

Staff Bios

Amy Goymerac

Instructional Assistant

Past Jobs: Office Assistant in LAHS College and Career Center

Summer Quote: “I performed in two operas and wake surfed for the first time!”

 

Neil Parry

Instructional Assistant

Past Jobs: Construction management, Saint Francis football coach, Big Brothers Big Sisters recruiter, short sale specialist, healthcare

Summer Quote: This summer we went to VidCon in Anaheim since my wife works in marketing for a tech giant. We also went to Disneyland. The rest of the summer I have been with my team trying to get better for this upcoming season. Any spare time I had I would go fishing at all the local lakes.”

 

Sarah Dalton

Spanish Teacher

Past Jobs: Spanish II, Spanish III

From: Coos Bay, Oregon

Summer Quote: “I went to Buenos Aires with my husband for two weeks. We danced tango every night, ate awesome food, and shopped for tango clothes and shoes!”

 

Sasha Jones

English Teacher

Classes: Survey English, World Literature

From: Santa Cruz, California

Summer Quote: “I moved into a new apartment found time to read a few novels, play some videogames with my husband, test out my new oven (many cupcakes were baked), and explore my new neighborhood. I also visited my husband’s family in San Luis Obispo and my dad in Santa Clarita.

 

Gus Wang

Speech-Language Pathologist

Summer Quote: “Some golf, some running and helped my parents move [houses.]”

 

James Mok

Science Teacher

Classes: Chemistry, Biology Honors

Past Jobs: Teacher at Willow Glen High School

Summer Quote: “A highlight for me this summer was when visiting New York City for a few days.”

 

Nicholas Borda.

Jacob Sproule

Math Teacher

Classes: Geometry Honors, Algebra II Honors

Past Jobs: Teacher at Egan

Summer Quote: “I spent most of it teaching Accelerated Geometry at Los Altos for summer school, but I did manage to squeeze in a trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Francisco Zoo and The Children’s Discovery Museum.”

 

 

Victor Nguyen

Math Teacher

Past Jobs: Algebra 1, Algebra 2

From: Oakland, California

Summer Quote: “I slept a lot and I moved from Sacramento. Spent a lot of time saying goodbye to the town and to people I met along the way, but I’m also quite excited to meet new faces here.

 

Nicholas Borda.

Heather Laederich

Science Teacher

Classes: Biology Honors, Environmental Science

Jobs: National history museum, biology research, non-profit sustainable development, outdoor school, high school science teacher

Summer Quote: “Moved to San Jose from Folsom. Spent a lot of time up at Lake Tahoe.”

 

 

 

Elisa Gruwell

Instructional Assistant

Classes: Algebra Enhanced, Math Essentials

Past Jobs: Middle-school math teacher

Summer Quote: “This summer I focused on spending quality time with my 2-year-old, Jordana.”

 

Andrea Seremet

Social Science Teacher

Classes: World Studies, U.S. History

Past Jobs: Worked at Massachusetts State House and World Food Programme, high school history teacher

 

Florence Wu

Math Teacher

Classes: Algebra 1 and 2

Past Jobs: Biomedical engineer

Summer quote: “This summer — in line with my hobbies, I went to Iceland with a few of my college roommates. We celebrated a couple decades of friendship while touring and hiking around Reyjkavik. I loved the geothermal pools, the waterfalls, the geological history and the glaciers. I also enjoyed photographing puffins in flight.”

 

Adriana Sanchez Hurtado

Math Teacher

Classes: Algebra 1.2

Jobs: Retail, LACF, executive and marketing assistant at pediatric clinic, board member of Elevate Tutoring

Summer Quote: “The best part of my summer was getting to relax and get out in the sun, including a great trip to Lake Tahoe.”

 

Michael Rasmussen

Science Teacher

Classes: Biology

Summer Quote: “This summer was punctuated by journeys. I had the honor of being part of both my brothers and a best friends weddings. I made a trip out to St. Louis for work and fun and a trip to Massachusetts to spend time with family.”

 

Dalia Gamez

Special Education Teacher

Classes: Life Skills, Study Skills

Past Jobs: Instructional Assistant at Los Altos

Summer Quote: “I taught English Language Learners in summer school, attended an amazing educational conference in St. Louis, spent time with friends and participated in one of my best friend’s weddings. The highlight of my summer though, would be having my 15-year-old sister Jackie visit from Mexico. This was the first time I had seen her in over two years, and we had a blast in Disney California Adventures and Disneyland.”

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