School Welcomes Fifteen “Freshman” Teachers

Alicia Araneda
In her first year as a full-time teacher, Araneda is reaching Photography I, Crafts/3D and Painting I. She is no newcomer to multitasking. At San Francisco State, Araneda earned degrees in Interior Design, Graphic Design and Art. She enjoys creating art for both pleasure and exhibits, and is also perfecting her technique as a ceramicist.

Araneda is happy to be teaching among a student body that shares her passion.

“The kids are really motivated,” Araneda said.

Pete Bjorklund
Bjorklund ‘99, has ten on the roll of full-time teacher this year; he was a student teach last year. Bjorklund, World Studies and Global Connections teacher, said he is glad to be back at his former school.

Although he enjoys the classes he teaches, he hopes to teach more history classes eventually. In addition, Bjorklund would like to coach either football or track, but not right away.

“I have to get the teaching thing down first,” Bjorklund said.

Matt Chaffee
Chaffee has seen some different climates over his lifetime. From growing up in Sacramento to teaching in San Francisco then Santa Cruz. He is getting his first taste of the suburbs of the South Bay in his ninth year teaching. So far, Chaffee likes what he sees.

“Everybody’s been very friendly and welcoming,” Chaffee said. “It’s a whole different attitude. The kids are really great.”

Chaffee teachers Algebra II and Calculus BC AP.

Lizzie Duemig
Duemig has had some unique teaching experiences including a stint in China.

A World Studies and World Studies SDAIE teacher, Duemig will also be a Freshman Class Adviser.

She would like to get involved in sports, as she was an assistant athletic director at another high school.

While she enjoys teaching and “seeing the light bulb go on over students,” Duemig hopes to eventually pursue a doctorate degree and work on education reform.

April Fritz
It took her friends and a job at a newspaper to draw Fritz out to the West Coast, but her love of teaching made her stay.

A North Carolina native, Fritz teaches United States History, Government AP and Civics SDAIE.

Fritz took a job writing for “The Wall Street Journal” in downtown San Francisco, but her heart belonged to education.

“It was the same thing every day,” Fritz said. “That’s why I love teaching. You have no idea what’s going to come up in class or what the students will say.

Krista Greksouk
Greksouk, who is teaching all Latin classes, is just setting out in her career in education.

“I think public school is important and I’m glad to be at one,” Greksouk said.

Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Classics, Greksouk will also serve as the adviser of the Junior Classical League, a club already on campus.

While she hopes to “foster a sense of community with Latin classes,” Greksouk, a former cheerleader, also hopes to help out with the cheer team.

Lindsay Hern
Hern has always had a special place in her heart for art. In college, the Photography I and II teacher sought another outlet of creative expression. Hern found photography allowed her to have a new perspective.

Hern moved here from Missouri in January both because her husband works here and because she wanted a warmer climate. She likes California so far.

“It’s a laidback environment. People get along but they come here to work,” Hern said.

Julie Hsieh
Algebra I teacher Hsieh is beginning her first year of full-time teaching. In the past she has been a substitute teacher in the district and tutored students for the SATs.

To make time for her teaching credential classes at San Jose State University, Hsieh currently teaches only three morning classes. When her credential program ends next year, Hsieh might be interested in advising a club like marching band or cheerleading, both of which she enjoyed during high school.

John Humphrey
Humphrey, a former history teacher at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, will be teaching social sciences classes like World Studies, Contemporary World Issues and Modern European History AP.

Humphrey said he chose to leave Wilcox for two reasons: the opportunities available and the support offered by the administration and students. Humphrey will be a Freshman Class adviser and also wants to get involved with the school’s Speech and Debate Team.

Laraine Ignacio
Algebra and geometry teacher Ignacio arrives in her third year of teaching. Ignacio previously spent a year teaching in Los Altos and a year in Richmond. Ignacio hopes to be in for a longer tenure at Los Altos.

“I’m hoping this will be permanent,” Ignacio said. “I hope this is a place where I can stay.”

Currently, Ignacio is trying to “focus on teaching” and getting settled into the new environment before getting involved with clubs.

Michael Kanda
Kanda, who taught English at Monta Vista High School for 11 years and was the department coordinator for 7, teaches Language and Composition AP and American Literature Survey.

From growing up in Sunnyvale to getting his teaching credential at Stanford University, Kanda has been in the Bay Area all his life. Los Altos itself is still relatively new to him, but he is adapting.

“I’m having a good time,” Kanda said. “I love the students here.”

Jacob Larin
Larin, previously a counselor at John O’Connell High School in San Francisco, grew up in the Bay Area. He has lived in Sacramento and El Salvador but Larin was drawn to this school for the enthusiastic student body.

“There is a lot of support for students,” Larin said. “People have been very welcoming.”

Larin teaches Study Skills during sixth period. He hopes to get involved in the Latin Student Union as well as coordinate a new lunchtime soccer tournament.

Theresa Nesmith
Geometry teacher NeSmith brings to the school a little Southern charm from her home state of Alabama. Having previously worked in Loudoun County in Virginia, NeSmith is new to the Bay Area and has been in this district for two months. She moved here to be close to family. She said so far she loves Los Altos.

NeSmith hopes to get involved with the girls basketball team and the Debate team.

“I like the logic and intensity of [debate],” NeSmith said.

Veronica Palma
After joining midway last year, Palma is excited for her first full year of teaching Spanish at the school.

Palma got her teaching credentials and master’s degree at Stanford University. After teaching at four other schools in the past seven years, Palma is glad to be back at the school where she interned while attending Stanford.

She said she enjoys the school’s diversity and being able to teach instead of break up fights or settle rowdy classrooms.

Heather Silverstein
Before French teacher Silverstein arrived at the school, she taught English in Africa for two years. She was also a student teacher at Mountain View High School.

Silverstein has had plenty of experience in French—she traveled abroad in France for a year and majored in the language as well.

So far, Silverstein feels that the environment at the school is exceeding her expectations and is excited to be working with her students.