The first year for any teacher is always a struggle, but like cheese or wine, things get better as time progresses, and hopefully this is true for new Chemistry teacher Andrew Cho’s career. Mr. Cho will always be a student in life, but he is also quite literally a student at UC Davis pursuing his masters. He’s still chronologically young, “a zoomer,” in his words, which is one of the reasons students find him so engaging. Mr. Cho enjoys gaming, and he has great ‘chemistry’ with his “discord homies” playing LOL (League of Legends). In the time he has as a high school teacher, he wants to instill that “Even though you are some small thing (in this universe) it is important to value your life.” Swing by and suggest any games with decent soundtracks, as he used to enjoy music. With Mr. C, chemistry doesn't have to be so daunting: science can be immersive, so don't be afraid, the water is warm, dive in.
Allison Rafferty is a current Living Earth teacher at Washington High School. She used to work at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, educating youngsters and creating bonds with animals. “Rosa, one of our sea otters, was always friendly and good at training,” she says. “I did have a special fondness for the Mola-Mola as well.” WHS is lucky to have a person who’s so eager to teach students that she left her otter friends to work with high school freshmen. If she were an element of the periodic table it would be one that makes bonds quickly and doesn’t have a valence shell, as she can easily bond with folks and fauna. She creates a welcoming ecosystem for scholars and reptiles alike. If you visit her classroom, you’ll find a charming snake, Carmel. Contrary to snakes’ inability to love, she comes across as someone who adores what she does in every way, even the parts that others aren’t wild about. Ms. R hopes to add math to her lessons while still keeping them fun. Ms. Rafferty wants to remind her students to “Take advantage of every opportunity presented to yourself. It’s important to always make the best of what you’ve got.”
Andrew Dimock teaches peer resources, where seniors act as mentors for underclassmen, and English language development. British and American literature and history is his cup of tea. The love of language and working together is at the heart of his classes. His students learn skills in socialization and language development in both classes he teaches. His ELD class specifically integrates those who don't have a linguistic background in English. He knows firsthand how difficult being a second language learner can be from his experience in France. Teaching has always been a career option to Mr. Dimock, as he grew up in a college town near the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is not the only educator in his family, as his wife is a professor at Stanford. Mr. Dimock still has a few ideas to follow through with. He plans to coach a cross country team, and expressed wanting to write a collaboration, with his brother as illustrator, about “American writers who participated in war.” There’s no doubt that he should pursue these ambitions because it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
Melanie Maral likes to hop about throughout her travels and career. As an educator for four years, she's already taught three different subjects in two different countries. Ms. M is a resource manager in charge of core support, a laid back and lenient class. Prior to her present-day position, Ms. Maral once taught English in Thailand. She prefers working at WHS and doesn’t look back too often. “I don’t miss it all the time, not the weather… very humid weather,” she says. It is no surprise that someone that adores travel so much is interested in cars. She and her husband enjoy attending car shows and spending quality time together. It seems that her drive in her job comes from her own curiosity. Ms. M is both a student at heart and a pioneer (Since she graduated from Cal State East Bay). She’s a chill teacher, so feel free to check in with her and mention the weather.
Jimmy Phong Nguyen is a new counselor at Washington High School. This is his first year as a counselor, but he has a lot of experience in education. Growing up, Mr. Nguyen took part in community service for elementary and middle school programs. He loved to be a mentor to the students younger than him. When he was in high school, Mr. Nguyen gave a lot of advice to family, friends, and peers. However, some job ideas he had were to become a pediatrician or teacher because he liked to work with children and to help people. Mr. Nguyen grew up without a father and he did not have a lot of support, only having a single mother. Mr. Nguyen is big on mental health because of this, and he loves being a counselor because it makes him proud to be able to impact peoples’ lives. He grew up in San Jose, California and has lived in the Bay Area for most of his life. Mr. Nguyen is full Vietnamese and his family came to the U.S in 1993. Out of his family, he is the first person to be born in the U.S. One of Mr. Nguyen’s hobbies is playing video games such as Valorant on PC, Super Smash Bros, the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and many other Nintendo Switch games, and King of Hearts on Playstation. He also likes to watch various anime, for instance Haikyu!! and Naruto. Finally, Mr. Nguyen really enjoys watching basketball. He has always been a Golden State Warriors fan.
Trong Tuan Nguyen Tran, also known by his American name Sonny Nguyen Tran, teaches math at Washington High School. He enjoys coding/debugging, playing video and board games, watching anime, hanging out with friends and playing tennis. He hopes to coach a tennis club in the future or maybe even coach the WHS tennis team. Growing up in Stockton, California, Mr. Tran is full Vietnamese and speaks both English and Vietnamese. During his high school years, Mr. Tran questioned what he wanted to be when he grew up. At first he questioned what he wanted to study in college. He was pressured to become a doctor by his parents. However, he decided to opt out of that and study science at UC Berkeley. Asking himself repeatedly what he wanted to do with his life, like many other college-aged students, Mr. Tran got overviews of topics such as Anthropology, Artificial Intelligence, Psychology, Sociology, and Linguistics. After studying all of these subjects, Mr. Tran learned a lot but he felt like every day was repetitive. This is similar to how many high school and college students feel about school, although Mr. Tran decided to take control of the repetitiveness in his education. During his senior year in college, Mr. Tran decided to volunteer at a middle school in Oakland, CA and mainly helped 6th graders. He found enjoyment in how he was fulfilling these students’ ideas of how math worked, and with that, decided to pursue a career in education. He taught high school subjects for two years and then decided to go for his teaching credential, which brings us to today. Now he teaches math at WHS and is looking forward to having a great school year!
Rashel Wren is one of the many Spanish teachers at Washington High School. The 2022-2023 school year has been good for her (with the help of Señorita Danner-Vera), although it is her first year teaching at Washington. Growing up in Lima, Perú, Señorita Wren and her parents are full Peruvian. Srta. Wren graduated from high school and junior college in Perú. When she came to the United States, she went to Cal State, East Bay and got a single-subject degree in Spanish, a master's degree in education, and a degree in human development. Srta.Wren's mother was a teacher and inspired her to pursue a career in teaching. Señorita Wren loves to teach students that want to learn and loves that her students have the opportunity to learn the language that she grew up speaking. She loves to teach and learn about cultures from different countries. Srta. Wren also enjoys crocheting anything from dolls to clothes. She began this hobby in high school and has stuck with it ever since. Senorita Wren is very artistic and enjoys painting & drawing as well. Mrs. Wren is married and has a 17-year-old son that attends school at Irvington High School. She also is a mother to a 6-year-old Shiba Inu named "Chiyo," which is a Japanese feminine name for “Thousand Generations.” Señorita Wren is very excited for this school year, and years to come!
Having a lot of experience in math, Aruna Dronamraju is a new Algebra 1 and Common Core 3 math teacher at Washington. Mrs. Dronamraju was born and raised in South India, and is full South Indian. She has one college-aged kid, one sixth grade-aged child, and has a husband. Graduating from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, Mrs. Dronamraju has a degree in math education. Mrs. Dronamraju thinks one of her biggest accomplishments in life is her students’ success. From the students that she teaches, to the students that she used to tutor before becoming a teacher, Mrs. Dronamraju’s students have won international medals for math competitions. Before becoming a math teacher, Mrs. Dronamraju used to be a civil engineer and substitute teacher, all while tutoring students from 7 different states. She wishes more tutors and teachers would use technology. Mrs. Dronamraju enjoys teaching her students online using the website Desmos. She would like to get easier access to chromebooks in classrooms, since she has background knowledge about computers and technology. Mrs. Dronamraju’s hobby is playing chess. When her son comes back to visit from college, playing chess is one of the things that they enjoy doing while at home. Mrs. Dronamraju dreams of playing chess competitively one day, but for now she will stick to her online chess games and focus on her teaching career.
Mariah McClellan is a new English teacher at Washington High School. This is her fourth year teaching. Ms. McClellan grew up in Hesperia, California, and studied in Arkansas at Harding College. She took her first teaching job in Lompoc, Central California. Afterward, she taught for two years back in her hometown. Ms. McClellan became a teacher because she loves to read and write. English had always been her favorite subject, and by combining everything she enjoyed, she was able to become a teacher. “I love my job, I think it’s the best ever!” Ms. McClellan says. She loves teaching teenagers because they are interesting, and fun to be around. Ms. McClellan loves to read 3-4 books a month, hiking, shopping and thrifting! When asked what she wished more teachers would do, Ms. McClellan said that she hoped to make everybody’s experience in high school more enjoyable. She wishes more teachers would “be creative in the assignments that they give and would really try to make things student-centered and fun” making things relevant to students. By not using traditional worksheets, high school students can experience something new.
Jane Selkye is the new librarian of Washington High School. After receiving a Bachelors in Spanish at Cal State Long Beach, she worked as a Par-legal in public interest law, went to UCLA for an attorney assistant program, and finally went to Cal State Dominguez Hills for a Spanish bilingual teaching credential and became an elementary school teacher for 13 years. Recently, she went back to school for a masters in library information science with an emphasis in information needs of youth through Florida State University. Mrs. Selkye is married to a retired Oakland City Attorney, whom she met in the 1990s back when she used to play in a band. She decided to become a teacher because she “didn’t want to live from just music. It's a hard life.” But throughout her career, Mrs. Slekye realized she wanted to help people because as she says, “what I noticed is...there are so many people [that] have life problems only because they don’t read very much. And because of that they don’t know what they have.” Despite her many studies, Mrs. Selkye manages to have some very unique hobbies. These include music (both writing songs and singing) and spinning wool and weaving! Mrs. Selkye wishes more teachers would, “come to me and ask about all the incredible research resources that we can be their co-teacher when they do any kind of project. Because it is a lot to tell someone, and teachers don’t have time to do all that!”
Travis VanderVelden is a new English teacher at Washington High School. Originally from Chico, CA, Mr. VanderVelden went to Pleasant Valley High School and studied literature in college. However, since there are, “not many jobs that pay you to read books,” Mr. VanderVelden taught abroad for a few years in the Philippines. He decided to become a teacher because, “even in high school if somebody didn’t understand something I could usually explain it really well,” Mr. VanderVelden explains. This is his 6th year teaching and he wishes that more teachers “understood what students were going through: it could be a lot of different things. Some students come to highschool and they are still learning English. Some students have jobs or sports everyday.” Mr. VanderVelen wants teachers to consider that some students cannot do 4-5 hours of homework everyday. Some of Mr. VanderVelden’s hobbies include running, playing the guitar, and he has recently been into computers.
Lena Barncord is the new Art and Digital Imaging teacher. Ms. Barncord grew up here in Fremont, and went to Washington High School! She became a teacher mainly because she comes from a long line of teachers. This is her first year teaching. She loves art and photography, and decided to teach others who enjoy art as well. Other than art, Ms. Barncord enjoys gardening, reading, learning history, and hiking. She wishes more teachers would “ask their students questions and actually listen to their response. I feel like there is an attitude that the teachers know better.” She wants teachers to give students a chance, and vice versa.
Aisha Tarakji is a senior at Washington High School who was born in Damascus, Syria. She spent most of her childhood in both Damascus and Jordan. Aisha moved to Fremont, California, five years ago, and this is her first year as a journalist for the Hatchet. Her main interests are Washington High School's history and literature in general. Her hobbies include writing, crocheting, and a large variety of other quiet activities. Aisha hopes to major in English literature to become a successful writer and English teacher.
Rylee Milnes is a freshman at Washington High School. She grew up in Fremont, California and this is her first year at the Hatchet. Rylee is very social and likes to interview people. Rylee's hobbies include, skating, surfing, snowboarding and any other outdoor activity. Rylee is the head captain of Washington’s JV cheerleading team, while healing from knee surgery. This recovery prevents her from playing sports that she enjoys such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, and softball, but is determined to get back at it. Rylee plans on getting a degree in kinesiology to become a physical therapist.
Noah Yonas is a senior at Washington High School. He has lived in Fremont for the most part but is a San Jose native. This is his first year at the Hatchet. Noah intends to cover the average student’s perspective on a variety of topics. Noah is a member of the academic enrichment program Kingmakers. Noah plans on studying at Stanford where he intends to become an anesthesiologist. Noah also intends to become a role model for the generations to come.