Life Before Teaching at UHS

Vincent Tsai, Staff Writer

Have you ever wondered what your teacher did before teaching at UHS? What was their life like? Well, you are in for a twist if you know Mrs. King or Mrs. Garcia. 

This year marks Mrs. Garcia’s 16th year of teaching, all of which have been at UHS, and Mrs. King’s 30th year of teaching, three of which were spent at Trabuco Hills, one at Woodbridge and the rest at UHS.

Mrs. King

Though it might seem like AP English Language teacher Mrs. King was always meant to be an English teacher, Mrs. King originally attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in one of the boroughs of New York City, Manhattan, on a full scholarship.

Mrs. King developed a love for fashion from her upbringing. It wasn’t until the 11th grade that Mrs. King bought her own pair of jeans and was able to make her own stylistic choices. The thirst to make her own choices empowered her to study fashion. 

“I had five siblings, I am the youngest, and until I got a [part-time] job in high school at a bakery, I wore only clothes and shoes passed down from my older sisters,” Mrs. King said. “I went to high school in the 1980s, and Jordache and Calvin Klein jeans were all the rage.”

Because Mrs. King lacked access to fashion growing up, she became even more enthusiastic about pursuing a career in fashion design.

However, since she didn’t draw a lot, Mrs. King realized at FIT that her strength wasn’t in design. Instead, she decided to go into fashion merchandising and got an internship on 7th Avenue at a fabric house.

While working at her merchandising job on an internship, Mrs. King suffered a traumatic experience that ended her career in fashion. At the time, Mrs. King didn’t live in Manhattan, where her job was located, but in New Jersey, where her dad lived, so she had to commute by subway every day to get to her job.

“I worked in the garment district of NYC and was robbed [at gunpoint] while waiting on a subway platform,” Mrs. King said. “[After that experience,] I was scared to death about commuting to work and left my job in the city.”

Mrs. King left the big city and was tasked with finding a new job she wanted to pursue. After landing on teaching, Mrs. King enrolled at Rutgers University to make up about a year’s worth of credit to get a bachelor’s degree. 

“My husband, who at that time was just my boyfriend, was a football coach at a local college,” Mrs. King said. “He asked me rather casually what else I [enjoyed], and I said I enjoyed writing and reading; the English teacher part just kind of fell into place.”

Mrs. Garcia

Drawn by the allure of Hollywood, current English I and Creative Writing teacher Mrs. Garcia initially moved from her hometown in Michigan to attend the University of Southern California’s (USC) School of Cinematic Arts. After graduating from USC with a film degree, Mrs. Garcia spent just under two years pursuing a career in the film industry. 

“I directed an independent documentary feature, which I spent about a year making and then took around to film festivals,” Mrs. Garcia said. 

While Mrs. Garcia pursued her career, she encountered some difficulties, which put her on track for a new life.

“I didn’t enjoy the chaos and uncertainty of a life in [the film] industry, and I really wanted to get out of LA, so I knew I had to create a new path,” Mrs. Garcia said. “I have no plans to pursue my first career again, but if I ever finish one of the many screenplays I have started writing over the last 20 years, maybe I’ll throw one out there and see if it sticks.”

After considering her options, Mrs. Garcia decided to pivot to a career in teaching English; she recalled a happy moment in her life that influenced her decision.

“I had just realized that I was done with my very short first career when I randomly came across a project I had done in my English class in high school,” Mrs. Garcia said. “I thought back to how much that teacher, Mr. Kralosky, had positively impacted my ability to create and think critically, as well as to empathize with others and learn from people with different perspectives.” 

Mrs. Garcia went to bed that night planning to pursue a career in teaching English and was applying to universities the very next morning. Soon enough, she found herself attending UCI to attain a master’s degree in education. After graduating, she started her first job at UHS and has been teaching here ever since. Mrs. Garcia hopes to help students and benefit them with her expertise.