In With the New: Meet Two of UHS’s Newest Staff Members


A new staff member, Mr. Groh, is now teaching English II and English IV (Ryan K.)

One of the new staff members, Mr. Groh, is now teaching English II and English IV (Ryan K.)

Staff Writer
At the end of the 2015-16 school year, University High School bid farewell to a few staff members but fortunately, there have been several new additions to University High School’s staff. The Sword & Shield took to learning more about Mrs. Esther Rogers (Counseling Dept.)  and Mr. Kevin Groh (English Dept.), two of the newest staff members this year.
Mrs. Esther Rogers is the new counselor for students with last names beginning Gun-La, in replacement of Mr. Ryan Itchon, who transferred to work at Portola High School at beginning this current school year. This is Rogers’s second year working in the state of California, but collectively, she has had over thirteen years of experience as a counselor in Alabama, where she attended university and began her career.
A remarkable fact that highlights the extensity of her experience is that prior to becoming a school counselor, Rogers first worked as a world history and psychology teacher for four years in order to earn her counseling certification. The reason she chose to teach these subjects correlates directly with one of the main reasons she enjoys working at University High School: “I’ve always loved learning about different cultures.”
Rogers cites the diversity in the student body at UHS as something that differentiates it from other schools she has worked at in the past.
Additionally, she has noticed that the rigorous nature of the school is a characteristic very unique to UHS and said, “I found it kind of different in dealing with students and the discussions we have.” She elaborated, “There’s a lot more foresight on students’ part. They’ve really thought about what their plan is for after they graduate, which is always a nice discussion to have.”
The fact that students at UHS generally seem to have an intrinsically goal-oriented state of mind has certainly made some aspects of Rogers’s job easier; however, she spoke about one of the main challenges of working here thus far, “I would like to be able to get to know the kids a little bit better. That’s been the hardest part right now, that I’ve been stuck in my office. I’d like to be able to get out more and get to know everybody and get involved in some other events and things.”
Since Rogers acknowledges the difficulty in finding opportunities to speak with her students, she has given out a piece of invaluable advice she would like to communicate to each and every student at school:
“I would encourage kids to expand where they search for schools and open that circle a little bit more. Even if [students] did the top 10%, that’s 200 schools. If you think about it that way, kids are usually looking at the top 10, 20, maybe 50 schools in the country, and that’s so unrealistic. I don’t think they’re giving themselves good fits. They’re just looking at brand names.”
She jokes with the metaphor, “We don’t all wear Gucci, but our clothes still fit and they look nice.”
Emily Ho (Sr.), one of Rogers’s students, can attest to the grand help Mrs. Rogers has provided in the midst of the college application season, stating,
“She is  patient and really hears what I am trying to say… She explains colleges well and helps clear any confusion I have.”
This sense that Rogers has been of any help to her students is a large part of what makes her job fulfilling to her. She states,  “It’s cool to watch kids transition, and I love when kids come back later and you seen what they’ve done. If their life has improved some and you feel like you’ve had some part in that, it just feels very rewarding.”
Rogers also shares that her time in high school was one of her favorite experiences and played a large part in her decision to become a counselor.
Her most thrilling memory from high school was toilet papering the school principal’s house, and she reminisces,
“That’s a bad thing, but I did it. It was just for fun, and partly because we were a group of all good kids, it was one of those things where they’d never suspect it was us.” However, another slightly more unconventional fun fact is that she ended up marrying her high school sweetheart, though she acknowledges, “That’s not reality for most people.”
Another new staff member is Mr. Groh, who now teaches English II and English IV. An interesting fact about Groh is that he actually attended University High School himself, before returning to teach this year.
Though Groh does not recall any specific favorite memories of his high school career, spending time with his friends in general is something he remembers enjoying fondly.
Prior to teaching, Groh had been in the military for several years before deciding he wanted to pursue a different career.
While it may seem like an uncanny transition,  he explained his reasoning for choosing to be an English teacher, “I wanted to still be in a service oriented profession. I’ve always been a big fan of literature and writing, so it just made sense given my background.”  
During his time at UHS, Groh had Mr. Chinn (English Dept.) as both his English II and Journalism teacher and said that he considers every English teacher he’s had in the past to be influential in his decision to become an English teacher himself.  
When a student really starts getting into it or has that “Aha!” moment or when they have a philosophical idea that they pulled from a book that I hadn’t thought of before,” are some of Mr. Grohs favorite things about his job. However, Groh stated he has not yet narrowed his favorite part down to just one thing in particular.  
JaeHoon Song (Soph.) considers the class discussions the most enjoyable thing about Groh’s class stating, “The books we read and discussing them in class is always really interesting.” When asked to describe Mr. Groh using only a couple words he said “too nice” and further elaborated that,
“He’s really generous. When students get loud, he doesn’t really shout or anything. He’s just very easy going.”
Similarly, Renee Warouw (Sr.) thinks Mr. Groh has a “good, fun personality” and enjoys the way he teaches the class the most.
When Groh is not in school, he stated his hobbies include travelling, reading, and more recently, surfing; however, he has not found as much time as he would like to pursue these due to the demands of being a first year teacher. He explained, “I mean, the first year you’re building all your lesson plans and stuff from scratch and getting used to things, so it’s a lot of extra work outside the classroom. It takes up time, but that’s fine. It’s a part of the fun.”
Both Groh and Rogers said that they are enjoying the experience of working at UHS thus far and that as their time working here progresses, they look forward to attending more school events and getting to know their students better.