With the beginning of second semester, our school welcomed three new teachers. After teachers Susan Friedeberg, Robert Freeman and Kathy Chang took leaves of absence at the end of the first semester, the school opened up job offers for teachers to cover their classes. Now, these new teachers are a part of our faculty and community.
After Friedeberg left, Christopher Moylan took over as an interim substitute for her Geometry and Algebra II classes. Moylan, who studied at Princeton University and got his Ph.D from Stanford University in chemistry, taught for five years at Stanford, UC Santa Cruz and also briefly at San Jose State. While teaching, Moylan worked at a company called Serious Energy, but left his job as a scientist after the company crashed.
Moylan received his substitute teaching credential and began teaching soon after. Moylan enjoys sharing his knowledge with students and getting them ready for college and their futures.
“For quite a while I have been thinking of going into teaching, and I already hold a substitute credential,” Moylan said. “I have been doing a lot of substitute work in a couple of districts. Then this district asked if I would be willing to do a long-term job.”
Since Friedeberg is taking the semester off, Moylan was chosen to cover as a long-term substitute.
“They needed a substitute who knew how to teach effectively math for that long,” Moylan said. “Given my background in math, I would be able to effectively teach the students the subject matter over the entire semester.”
Moylan, like the other two teachers who joined midyear, was faced with some challenges and is still in the process of adjusting.
“As a substitute, I don’t have access to the web tools that teachers have, so I can’t enter my grades or post notes so students can see them online,” Moylan said. “It’s a little hard on my students and a challenge for me not having the full resources of a teacher, and so far I have been keeping track of grades on my own.”
Moylan said that he has had a great time so far with our school, and really enjoys working with students and faculty. During his time outside of school, Moylan serves on the Sunnyvale City Council, where he has been working on local legislation since 2005. During his free time, Moylan enjoys spending time with his wife and children. Moylan has also participated in community theater for many years, and hopes to get back to acting once he finds the free time.
“I hope when I get done with education classes and city council term I can go back to acting,” Moylan said. “I enjoy acting, that’s why I like [Assistant Principal Cristy Dawson] and her theater talents that we hear in the announcements every morning.”
Another new teacher we have this semester is Grace Ting, who teaches the Mandarin classes that were previously taught by Chang. Before coming to Los Altos, Ting taught Chinese at a bilingual elementary school for 10 years after getting her teaching credential at San Jose State.
Chang, who is a friend of Ting, informed her about the job at our school, since she would be leaving for second semester. Since Ting already had experience teaching Mandarin, she decided to continue her teaching here.
“One thing I know about Los Altos is that it is a great teaching environment,” Ting said. “I really like to teach high school students, and enjoy the experience of learning a lot back from them.”
Ting has enjoyed her experience here thus far and appreciates the active learning environment. Despite students coming in with different levels of fluency in Mandarin, she has adjusted the class to fit all her students.
“It is kind of a challenge because some students have a stronger foundation than others,” Ting said. “What I try to do is pair native speakers with beginner-level students so that they can collaborate and learn from each other.”
Ting found the transition to be manageable.
“So far everything has been great since I followed through from the previous teacher’s rubric and criteria,” Ting said. “I don’t want to change so that the class stays consistent and students are not confused.”
Outside class, Ting enjoys spending time with her kids, taking them to parks and museums and hiking with her kids.
Ting hopes to continue teaching Mandarin and eventually teach different levels of Mandarin classes here at Los Altos. Her long-term goal as a teacher is for the school to have an AP Mandarin class for higher-level students.
Sarah Michelet is the third new teacher at the school this semester. Since Freeman left, Michelet now covers his former World Studies and Economics classes this semester.
Before working at the school, Michelet worked in customer service while finishing her teaching credential. She also taught at a Chinese Learning Center, teaching English to young students.
“After getting my credential I was really excited to start teaching,” Michelet said. “I had heard great things about the Los Altos High community, students and faculty, and felt that it would be a great place to teach.”
Michelet says she has really enjoyed her experience at the school thus far, and has been working to adjust to the new semester. Unlike the other teachers, her Economics class also started this new semester, so her students don’t have teacher changes, but rather a new class. However, this is not the same for Michelet’s World Studies class.
“Coming in the new semester is tough,” Michelet said. “You only have a few days to prepare and set up. Teaching the freshman World Studies class is different because it takes a while for the students to adjust to a new teacher, but for the Economics class it is a new start for all of us.”
Outside of teaching her classes, Michelet also takes a class at San Jose State focused on various forms of teaching methods. Despite having little free time, Michelet enjoys the teaching environment.
“With all the time here and the class at San Jose State, I spend a lot of time in the classroom,” Michelet said. “It takes a lot of time but I really enjoy teaching, and so it makes the experience much more interactive.”
Michelet hopes to teach at LAHS long-term, and expand her classes.