Samueli Academy has only been around for four years and every year new staff join the fire wolves. This year, we were joined by Matthew Bell, Norah Sarsour, Stephen Pink, Erik Pederson, Gina Gonzalez, Noah Palacios, Martin Dominguez Jr., Mariela Herrera, Isabel Saldana, and Hugo Jacobo. With all these additions, we are now a fully staffed school.
Every year the students get to know more about the new staff members, since they are the first ones to experience the way they make a difference at the school. For example, a student who is a senior now, has witnessed each new addition. “As a student it has been interesting to see how the firewolf staff pack has been growing,” said Mayleen Batres.
Mr. Bell is a freshman and senior teacher, who was born and raised in California, mostly a smaller town called Camarillo, just a few minutes from the beach. Growing up, he spent most of his time outdoors; although he loved watching just about every sport, he was never an athlete. He moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University and quickly found that his favorite thing about living in Utah is "the greatest snow on earth." Mr. Bell learned to snowboard when he was 14 and probably won't ever stop. As an undergraduate, he taught several introductory physics courses and realized that he loved to teach physics even more than he loved to learn it.
Physics can be hard it involves math and obviously it involves science. “I love the way he teaches physics, he makes it interesting and at first I thought physics was boring but all of a sudden I like physics more than I thought I would,” said Liliana Ortiz.
After graduating, he returned to BYU to receive his teaching license rather than attending graduate school, but he still went on to graduate school later and received a Masters in Technology. Outside of work, some of his favorite things to do are fishing for wild Alaskan Salmon, hiking, photography, wakeboarding, snowboarding, BYU football, and just relaxing on the couch watching a good movie.
Another staff member Ms. Gina Gonzalez, the senior & junior teacher also freshman advisor was born in Venezuela and raised in Dallas,Texas and according to her “99% of the time is spent at home.” She planned on becoming a teacher but her original goal was to be an elementary teacher but halfway through she changed her mind.
She decided to teach high school instead because she worked as a teacher assistant in an elementary school and she felt that it was too much to deal. “I love Samueli Academy and my biggest role besides being a teacher is preparing the seniors for adulthood or expose them to things that they will encounter in their future” says Ms. Gonzalez. Out of school Ms. Gonzalez likes to try new restaurants and She likes to go Salsa dancing and lastly I go to the beach a lot since that is what my backyard consist of. “I love Ms. Gonzalez, she is so fun and I love the way that she can relate to us and it just makes us have that connection,” said Andrea Antonio.
In addition, also a new staff member was Mr. Erik Pederson, the government and economy, film and criticism teacher and freshman advisor was born and raised in Sacramento, California and for the last 20 years he spent most of his time in San Diego but now when not in school he spends most of his time in Southern Orange County. Mr. Pederson has a great personality and loves to connect with the students. Also, he has a passion to teach his students and even when sick he does not skip out on the day and tries his best to teach even though he is not feeling good which makes him an awesome teacher. “In the beginning I did not plan on becoming a teacher until the age of 25 when I learned how to work with kids in Japan,” says Mr Pederson.
Since he learned how to work with kids that makes his concepts of teaching understandable and easy to follow which is convenient. “I like the way Mr. Pederson teaches and how he is so helpful when you don't understand something, he works his way out through it to help you, he also makes the concepts easier to understand,” said Abigail Martinez. His main goal is to facilitate students that continue to grow as individuals and see their potential to help them in their next steps on whatever they want to pursue in their life and their careers. “I love Samueli Academy it's a unique school with students and staff,” says himself.
Overall, Samueli Academy keeps on gathering more new fire wolves and the students seem to like the idea of having and getting to know more of the teachers. “I look forward getting to know the staff members throughout the years that I have ahead of me,” says Daniel Mendoza.
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