“A teacher’s work doesn’t end outside the classroom” — it’s a statement many of us have heard, but not one that many people give much thought to. It’s easy to assume that teaching is just like another day job, just another set schedule and set work and duties to handle. It’s not. Teaching is much more than that, and the dedicated teachers of the Garden Grove Unified School District exemplify what it means to truly devote yourself to bettering the lives of others. To recognize the too often “unsung heroes” of the school district, GGUSD started up the #WhyITeach campaign: a campaign where teachers from schools across the district can come forward and share what it is that motivates them to help others.
Argolog and Yearbook officially brought the campaign to GGHS when they spent Wednesday morning posing teachers for campaign pictures. Each teacher held up a sign with the hashtag and their reason, and each teacher had a unique story and reason behind their decision to teach and their passion for making a difference in students’ lives.
“It’s truly heartening to see these stories,” shares Jenna Nguyen (11). “I think us students tend to overlook a teacher’s true contribution towards our well-being, and hearing all of this inspires me to put in the same amount of dedication towards my studies.”
Mr. Martinez, one of the teachers who makes up GGHS’ Art Department, shows that the inspiration goes both ways. “You light a little spark, and what you get in return is just phenomenal. You show them the light, and they just run with it, and it’s incredible.”
We’re incredibly lucky to be at a school with such dedicated teachers, and it’s high time that they get the spotlight they deserve. Below, GGHS teachers elaborate on their love for teaching and what got them to where they are today, and students share out about how the teachers here have changed their lives for the better.
Mr. Lam: The reason I love to teach is because of the students, I love working with the kids. I mean mathematics is great too but just knowing that I’m apart in influencing one of my student’s life goes further. Personally, high school for me was a pretty exciting part of my life and hopefully I can make their high school experience just as enjoyable.
Elijah Perez (12): Ms. Whiston definitely changed my life in that she helped me decide what career path I want to take. I took my first language class my freshman year of high school, and she made me absolutely love it! Thanks to her, I want to learn languages and become a translator or language teacher myself!
Ms. Jue: I just wanted somewhere that I could talk about history. I didn’t originally plan to become a teacher — I was planning to become a doctor, and I was going to get my PhD. But it was too expensive, so I got my bachelor’s and wound up teaching instead. I ended up loving it.
Jessica Lindsay (11): Ms. Ingram is my role model and second mom. She’s inspired me to become a serious actress and she’s always been there for me if I needed support or just someone to talk to. She care for all of her students like they’re her own children, and she has so much faith in every one of them.
Mr. Swann: To me, the best part of being an art teacher is just being able to spread the love of art, honestly — and getting to make art all day for my job.
Mya Shimizu (11): Mrs. Lazarony is one of my all time favorite teachers. She provides such a safe space for me and all of the students that walk through her door. She is the funniest, liveliest person I’ve ever met and she always puts a smile on my face. Her lessons were always my favorite part of the day because she is so passionate about everything she teaches.
Mr. Lou: My favorite part of history to teach is the Civil Rights Era, because it’s about trying to live up to the standards set by the Declaration of Independence — that all men are created equal. The issue of equality is very important.
Kayla Diep (12): I would say Mr. Luong changed my life — for the better and worse. My studying skills have improved, and I developed discipline for myself and for my grades.
Ms. McManus: Honestly, my favorite part of being an art teacher is working with my students. They’re really a lot of fun, and they’re wonderful people. Kids make me laugh — they bring a sense of joy to my day. I’ve been doing this for nineteen years, and I never go in dreading the day. I still love it, and I feel very, very lucky.
Mr. Girard: I like helping people and I love interacting with students.
Ms. Zahm: The most rewarding part of being an art teacher to me is when you see a student create a piece and they’re surprised at how good it is and proud of their own work.