Meet some of UHS’s new staff

Home S&S Features Meet some of UHS’s new staff
Meet some of UHS’s new staff

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By SOPHIA HUO and ERIN KIM
Staff Writers

This year, UHS has seen an influx of new faculty. Sword & Shield interviewed the new teachers: Mr. Justin Davidson (Mathematics Dept.), Ms. Lynette Burnside (Science Dept.), Ms. Tasha Dockery (English Dept.), Ms. Alexa Stephens (English Dept.), Ms. Meredith Rubenstein (Social Science Dept.), Ms. Lourdes Balandrán (World Languages Dept.) and Ms. Andrea Gilles (Mathematics Dept.). The new staff members come from a variety of different places and backgrounds, but they all share a love of teaching.

Mr. Davidson: Algebra 2 and Precalculus

S&S: What was your previous career experience?

Before teaching, oh god, what haven’t I done? Right out of high school, I joined the military. I was in the Air Force for four and a half years and that took me around the world. I went to Korea, Germany, Italy, Kuwait and ended up back in Arizona. I was still in the reserves at the time. Then I started going to school, and while I was in school, I was a chef for a while. I did…a whole myriad of things. I did a lot of tutoring. I did just odds and ends jobs; I did some business stuff; I worked in a gas station for a while. I kind of just floated around and did whatever I could.

Favorite TV show: Big Bang Theory

S&S: What is your life like outside of the classroom?

Outside the classroom, I’m doing a lot of outdoor stuff, like camping, hiking and just traveling in general. I love to travel.

S&S: What is something most students don’t know about you?

I coach cheer; I did cheer in high school. So I’m coaching here as well. I’m an assistant coach with Mr. Shrake. I’ve done three different types of martial arts Hwa-rang-do, which is a Korean martial art, Brazilian jiu jitsu, which is ground fighting, and Tae-Kwon-Do. I also have a side job making voice-overs, so when a class sends me math lessons, I just record my voice explaining the concepts. I’ve done voiceovers on video games as well; I’ve done a couple different video games.

S&S: What is your favorite place that you have visited?

I really enjoyed Germany; it’s a bit chilly though. I love Tuscany, and my cousin lives in the Tuscany region in Italy so I got to visit her when I was stationed there.

Ms. Burnside: Chemistry and ESS

S&S: What was your previous career experience?

I worked as a geologist for a geotechnical engineering firm, then I left the industry to stay home with my kids to raise my little ones.

S&S: What are your favorite books, movies or TV shows?

I don’t have much of an opportunity to watch much of my own TV shows these days, with my kids at home. But when it was on a while ago, I really loved that show Lost. I like sci-fi type stuff, realistic fiction type stuff. And most recently, my favorite books were the Divergent series and The Hunger Games.

S&S: What is your life like outside of the classroom?

I love hiking, camping and doing all kinds of outside stuff.

S&S: What is something most students don’t know about you?

Well probably most of my students really don’t know me yet because I’m still new here…but…I had a huge rock collection.

S&S: What is your favorite place that you have visited?

Europe was pretty fun; my husband and I did a trip to Europe, and I think Switzerland was pretty awesome.

S&S: Where are you originally from?

I am originally from Southern California.

Ms. Dockery: English 1 and 4

S&S: Where are you originally from?

I was born up in Seattle, Washington.

S&S: What are your favorite books, TV shows and genres of music?

Being a mom of a five a year old and a three year old, I don’t have much time for my own TV; we watch a lot of Sprout at home. My all time favorite books are Catcher in the RyeThe Giver, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird and all the ones that you guys read in school are my favorites. For music, I love country music, but I’m pretty open to all types as well.

Favorite food: Sushi, shabu-shabu

S&S: What’s something interesting about you that many students don’t know?

I used to run marathons.

S&S: Of all the places you’ve visited, what is your favorite?

I love places like Yosemite where you can just be out in nature. I love going to the city too, like New York City.

Ms. Stephens: English 3 and English 2 Sheltered

S&S: What was your previous career experience?

I was a teacher for ten years. So I worked at Buena Park High School, and then I worked at Fullerton High School.

Favorite book: The Great Gatsby

Favorite movie: 16 Candles

S&S: What is your life like outside of the classroom?

I’m with my kids. I have two kids, a two and a half-year old and a ten month old. I have two dogs and a cat, so I just hang out with them and my husband.

S&S: What is something most students don’t know about you?

I like to travel, and I ride motorcycles.

S&S: What is your favorite place that you have visited?

There’s a lot but probably the Caribbean. I like the sun.

S&S: Where are you originally from?

I’m from Mission Viejo, born and raised, so I went to Capistrano Valley High School.

Ms. Rubenstein: 9th grade Global and 10th grade U.S. History

S&S: Where are you originally from?

I grew up in Anaheim, but when I was a kid I lived in Florida for a little while.

S&S: What is your previous career experience?

This is my tenth year, so I’ve taught in Sacramento and then in Boston. I taught mostly middle school students, mostly eighth grade.
Favorite book: Murder Mysteries

Preferred TV shows: Chopped, Masterchef, The Bachelor

S&S: What is your life like outside of the classroom?

Well, I’m married…we don’t have any kids yet, but we like to travel, and I like to cook a lot outside of the classroom.

S&S: What’s your favorite place that you’ve been to?

Honestly, I love Washington D.C. I was a political science major in college, and I love learning about the government.

S&S: What’s something interesting about you that many students don’t know?

Well, before I went to college, I never lived in the same place for more than two years. I moved around a lot when I was a kid.

Ms. Balandrán: Spanish 1 & 2

S&S: Where are you originally from?

I was born in Cuba, and I came over when I was three years old. I came with my sister, who is three years older than me, my mother, my father and my grandparents. So there were six of us in total, and it was right after the Communist Revolution, so we were political refugees. We first went to Florida, and then we moved to California.

S&S: What is life like outside the classroom?

I’m very devoted to raising my kids, and I’m a single mom so that consumes all my time. I love to cook, and I enjoy traveling, I hope to do more of that as my kids get older. In fact, I want to take them to Cuba, especially before all the Starbucks go up, you know, it’s going to be very “Americanized.” Now is a very interesting time to see it. It’s like a relic from the past frozen in history without a lot of modernization. I love photography and I love spending time with my family and going places with my family. I’m kind of a home body. No parachuting for me.

Favorite places visited: Hawaii, Barcelona, and Paris

S&S: What is something interesting about you that your students don’t know?

I’ve made quilts. I made a quilt for my kids’ school, like as a fundraiser, and it was this big quilt and it went for like hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Also, I got an archery certificate because when I was at Irvine High School, they [students] wanted to do a club, and as part of the club, they thought it’d be a good idea if I had a certificate for it. So I went and I got the training.

Favorite books: Pablo Neruda’s poetry, Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel García Márquez

Favorite TV shows: Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead

Favorite Movie Genre: Comedy

Ms. Gilles: Algebra 2, Math 1CD, and Geometry

S&S: What is your previous career experience?

My first job out of college, I taught overseas in Japan. I taught English for three years in Japan. My first degree actually was Business Marketing. When I got back from Japan, I worked at an aerospace company. I did contracts for three or four years. From that, I went and did sales for about two or three years, but everyday I talked about teaching and how much I loved teaching.

Favorite TV shows: Football, Travel Channel

S&S: What is your life like outside the classroom?

I do triathlons and I love running. I also love to cook.

S&S: What is your favorite dish?

I love making Italian meatballs, and… gosh I like everything!

S&S: What is something interesting about you?

I love to travel. I’ve been to over 22 countries. I just love to explore the world and use the summertime to learn about different countries.

S&S: What is your favorite place that you’ve visited?

Oh that’s hard to say because they all have their unique characteristics…especially the food!

S&S: Where are you originally from?

I am originally from here, born and raised in Orange County.

 

A new feature on the DHH Department’s new principal will be posted soon.

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