Meet the new UHS staff

Staff Writers
This year, University High School (UHS) welcomes its new teachers. To get to know these new staff members, Sword & Shield interviewed Mr. Leo Maldonado and Ms. Leslie To from the Special Education Department, Mr. Nick Brighton and Ms. Jennifer Bartlau from the Science Department, Mr. Jeff Colton, Ms. Courtney Mosey and Ms. Rebecca Van Guilder from the Math Department, Ms. Liane Grant and Ms. Andrea Wade from the World Languages Department and Ms. Erica Martin and Ms. Eliza Sussman from the English Department.
1. What made you decide to become a teacher?
Colton: I used to be an engineer, and I remember having many teachers who had a positive influence on me and helped me be successful. I want to give kids that same experience.
Grant: I love the French language and sharing that with others, and teaching is the best way to spread it. I want people to be open to other cultures and get to know new people, and learning a language really helps with that.
Martin:  I had a lot of teachers in the past that believed in me. Coming from a single parent home, I sometimes didn’t have the support I needed, but I had a lot of support at school from teachers, and that’s what did it for me.
Van Guilder: I like helping students learn and teaching students who have previously struggled with a math problem to understand the concept.
Wade: My seventh grade Spanish teacher was my mentor because she was so inspirational and enthusiastic about teaching Spanish that I knew that was what I had to do in life.
Maldonado: I wanted to make a difference in students’ lives and provide them skills to become life-long learners.
Bartlau: I really enjoy working with students and I love biology!
Brighton: I really enjoy working with high school level kids and being able to help them understand science and its applications to their everyday life.
Sussman: As far back as I can remember, I have always loved school. I had a teacher Barbie who came with her very own chalkboard and desks for students! My parents had instilled in me the value of education from an early age, so I was always the kid who offered to stay in at lunch and help the teacher.  I loved the idea of inspiring a love of learning, and showing people that there was a vast expanse of knowledge still undiscovered that was both fascinating and relevant.
To: I really wanted to help students and always loved being in a classroom.
Mosey: I come from a very large family of teachers, so I really feel that it is something I was born to do!
2. What is your favorite part of the curriculum to teach?
Colton: For engineering, something I like about it a lot is that it is different, and usually the kids are excited because they chose to take it. The students get to make things, and there is a physical object afterwards that allowed them to be creative. For math, I like to think logically and just follow the processes and procedures.
Grant: I like teaching about the culture and the different places you can travel and experience yourself. Things that aren’t in the textbook, like add-ons about the differences between France and America, are things that I really like.
Martin: I teach seniors in Career Prep, and we are going through the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Students are able to look at themselves and learn from their personal experiences. I want to see them grow and improve some of their habits.
Van Guilder: Reflections, which I’m teaching now, are nice to teach because students can visualize them and think of them as more of a physical object, which helps them learn it better.
Wade: For Spanish 2, my favorite part is when we talk about childhood. Students start learning the imperfect tense and talk about what their childhood was like. We get to sing some childhood songs. For Spanish 1, I love everything because the students are like a blank slate and start learning about every little aspect of the language, producing it from nothing.
Maldonado: I enjoy getting into the novels and engaging students in classroom discussions and projects.
 Bartlau: That’s a difficult question. I really like all of it. I suppose evolution and human body systems for biology and for APES I like teaching everything related to plants and ecology.
Brighton: My favorite part of the curriculum is the laboratory experimentation.
Sussman: I am an English teacher, so of course my favorite thing to do is READ! I LOVE reading novels and plays and poems aloud with my students, doing voices, and bringing the text to life. I guess you could say that comes from my many years both performing on stage and being a theater teacher.
To: Doing fun things like going out into the community with the kids, buying groceries to cook recipes that are a part of what we learn each week [are my favorite part of the curriculum].
Mosey: I honestly don’t think I have a favorite part. I love anything math related.
3. What do you most like about Uni?
Colton:  I like the students and the culture. I am really big on setting high goals and trying to achieve them and it seems like that’s really common here.
Grant: I haven’t been here long, but I love how motivated and enthusiastic everyone is. When I do activities, students get really excited about them and that creates such a great atmosphere.
Martin: I love the students and their enthusiasm for learning as well as the competition on the tennis courts!
Van Guilder: Football! I came from a small school where there wasn’t much happening, and Uni just has so much to do! You can go from event to event because this school has many sports and clubs to be involved in.
Wade: So far Uni has been amazing, and I love how ambitious the students are.
Maldonado: I enjoy working with the students and collaborating with the staff.
Bartlau: What I like most about Uni is the diversity and energy of the staff and students.
Brighton: I like the friendliness of the students and staff as well as everyone’s dedication.
Sussman: The people! The teachers, staff, and students are all so friendly. I am so honored to have been chosen to work at such a lovely school.
To: It’s very welcoming and feels like a family.
Mosey: The school spirit and all of the wonderful students and staff members.
4. What are you most looking forward to this school year?
Colton: I am really looking forward to getting to know the students and the teachers.
Grant: I’m looking forward to doing units that involve food, so I can bring in food and give students the opportunity to experience it even if they aren’t as exposed to French culture.
Martin: I’m new right now, like my freshmen, but I’m looking forward to getting used to this school and growing from this experience.
Van Guilder: I can’t wait to assimilate to this school and just fit in with the teachers and students.
Wade: I want to get to know the people by building new relationships and becoming part of the community.
Maldonado: I look forward in getting to know the students and helping them meet their goals.
 Bartlau: In general, learning and growing.  But also, the APES field trip to Joshua Tree National Park.
Brighton: I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the UHS family and helping the students through the material.
Sussman: Making new friends on staff and hopefully becoming the “favorite teacher” for some students here at Uni!
To: [I look forward to] seeing a lot of growth with my students.
Mosey: I look forward to all of the fun school events and just learning more and more everyday with my students!
5. Interesting fact about yourself?
Colton: I have a one year old daughter and pictures of her are on my wall.
Grant: I really love traveling, and I lived in France for two years.
Martin: This summer I did a F16 flight simulator, which simulates a fighter jet.
Van Guilder: I used to ballroom dance in college. I did it for seven years, but now I can’t do it as much because of my busy schedule.
Wade: I have a twin, but we are fraternal so we don’t look anything alike.
Maldonado: I’m an outdoor enthusiast and enjoy camping, hiking, biking and photography.
Bartlau: One year after high school I took an average of 17 dance classes a week as part of a dance scholarship program.
Brighton: I worked with the nuclear reactor as a college student at UCI.
Sussman: Making new friends on staff and hopefully becoming the “favorite teacher” for some students here at Uni!
To: [I’ve] been to Comic-Con the last 3 years in a row, and hope to go next year.
Mosey: I am addicted to coffee! I can’t go a day without it.