August 17, 2020
As a high school student at LAHS, English teacher Perla Luna was not one to be the outspoken character in discussions. Instead, she enjoyed the quiet sanctuary of English and AVID teachers’ classrooms, which made her feel like she belonged.
“When I was a student, English was a subject that helped me find the power in my own voice,” Luna said. “I was very shy, hesitant and not assertive at all, but my English and AVID teachers helped me figure out the power behind my own voice.”
Luna is a first-generation college student whose parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico. At LAHS, while her peers competed to get into Ivy League schools and piled APs, Luna was focused on the sole task of getting through the college application process.
“At Los Altos, especially when you’re on the AP track, it becomes very competitive,” Luna said. “You feel this need to go to a certain school or your work is not valid somehow. I decided on Santa Clara and I felt like that wasn’t good enough for some reason because everybody was making me feel confused about my choice. But in retrospect, I realize that it really doesn’t matter what college you go to as long as you’re doing what’s best for you.”
After graduating from Santa Clara University with a bachelor’s degree in English and sociology in 2019 and later from Stanford with a Master of Education in 2020, Luna decided to come back to LAHS so she could help students like herself actualize their dreams and gain confidence in their abilities as she had done through AVID.
In her classroom, Luna hopes to pass on the lessons she learned through her high school and college journey to her students; that not everyone must conform to the academic and social pressures of our school environment.
“I wanted to come back to a community that I could see myself in,” Luna said. “I also want to be someone who can reassure students that it’s okay to follow their own path, even if their path might not look like everybody else’s. If students are feeling insecure or like they’re not fitting into their classes, I want to help them through that because I’ve been there.”
Despite falling in love with English in high school as part of her own academic path, Luna recognizes the dislike some students have for the subject.
“Some people hate it and wish that they never had to see another book in their life, but whether or not you grow up to be an English major or even just be a regular reader, you need [English skills] to function in society,” Luna said. “You need to be able to communicate well and to express yourself, which are important life skills that I want to make sure students walk away with.”
Especially during distance learning, Luna believes that English is a crucial subject for her students to be able to better navigate the uncertainty of quarantine.
“In terms of their lives right now, English is an important outlet for students to express themselves, but also to help them gain those critical thinking skills they need to understand everything that’s being thrown at us during this time,” Luna said.