New Year, New Staff (2023-2024)

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Scott Bandy

Scott Bandy is one of the new Special Education teachers at Washington High School. Mr. Bandy grew up in East Oakland, California. His hobbies include competitive rock climbing, mountain biking in the summer months, and competitive snowboarding and surfing in the winter months. When he is not engaged in outdoor activities, he loves to play board and video games. After grade school he studied at Alliant International University. Before he became a teacher, he was an architect in the Bay Area and in Central Uganda and then a pastor for several years. His teaching career began when he taught Mattos Elementary School’s ⅔ inclusion class in 2021-2022, and later he taught at John F. Kennedy High School’s Special Education class in 2022-2023. He became influenced to teach at Washington High School, as most of his family members are Washington alumni and speak highly of this school. His job differs from a general education teacher’s, as he has to create individual lesson plans and find creative ways to adapt them to his students, who learn quite differently from each other. He loves teaching as he takes pleasure in helping others find joy in discovery and learning, and loves working with SPED students because they have a unique view of the world that is unlike any other. They see joy in the mundane, intrigue in the ordinary, and perseverance when others would fail.

Sara Buffey

Sara Buffey is a new Special Education teacher at Washington High School. Ms. Buffey grew up here in Fremont, California and graduated in 2019 as a Washington alumni. Her hobbies include playing and watching soccer, cooking, running, and cozying up to watch a good TV show. She was introduced to Special Education during her senior year of high school when she volunteered to cover the Special Olympics for the Washington yearbook. As she attended California State University, Chico, she observed different types of classrooms, grade levels, and subjects for one of her education courses. Ms. Buffey was drawn to the Special Education classes, which solidified her desire to start working as a “paraprofessional" inside Special Education classrooms. An important aspect of her job includes setting a daily routine that her students can clearly understand and follow. She loves teaching as it allows her to work with great kids and great people while exploring the world of education and learning something new everyday. She understands that her students face challenges on a daily basis, so one of her goals is to make sure they remain confident in themselves and learn how to not let the hardships of the world bring them down.

Michael Bigelow

At Washington High School, Michael Bigelow is a new Special Education teacher. Mr. Bigelow was born in Massachusetts, and has lived in Colorado, Nevada, and Oregan. However, he has spent most of his life in Nevada. His favorite hobby is running, but he also cooks and reads, more specifically fantasy and science fiction. After grade school he attended Portland State University where he received his masters in Education. He did not always know he wanted to go into the education field, but he had experience in teaching employees in previous jobs and several people suggested that he would be a great teacher, which planted the seed of his career. For two years he worked in Vancouver, Washington before moving to Fremont, California and starting teaching here at Washington High School. Throughout his work he has earned two teaching credentials in Special Education and Chemistry. He loves working with his students. He works with a small class so he is able to create deeper connections with his students, and he feels like he is improving their lives every day they come to school. He wants people to understand his students’ disabilities and to know them not as Special Education students, but as Washington High School students.

Shikha Sharma

Shikha Sharma is Washington’s newest Living Earth and Chemistry teacher. A true adventurer at heart, she goes hiking with her family every weekend and has been to over 15 national parks, with no plans of stopping anytime soon. Despite her daring nature, she has ailurophobia (fear of cats), and shudders at the thought of even looking at a picture of one. Though this is her first year teaching living earth, it isn’t her first year teaching science to high schoolers. Mrs. Sharma previously taught AP Biology in San Jose, and describes Washington students comparatively as people who are “very motivated and determined to succeed.” She is truly passionate about science, especially biology, and in her words is “a person who loves to motivate others and encourage their students to do their best.” Her current aim is to prepare her students for upper level science classes like AP Chemistry and AP Biology. Her hope is that her students will go into these advanced classes, and she actively encourages her students to embrace the challenge, and not shy away from pursuing these higher level courses.

Megan Thaler

Megan Thaler is one of the new Living Earth teachers that Washington has welcomed this year. Mrs. Thaler’s life has always been full of thrills, with her hiking adventures and experience as a SCUBA Divemaster. She has been all over the world to dive, most frequently in Australia. When she’s not going on adventures, you’ll find her at home doing puzzles and watching movies. She’s a huge animal lover, and has a snake and a dog named Percy. Other than her pets, she has two kids, Grady and Parker, whom she adores and loves to spend time with. Although she has taught at 6 other schools for 17 years all over the country, she believes that the students at Washington are the best, describing them as very sweet and always ready to learn. Mrs. Thaler is dedicated to providing her students the best education, and wants to not only teach them the curriculum but also provide them with the critical thinking skills needed in life. “I think it’s very important to put scientifically educated people in the world, especially with talk about the pandemic, climate change, and vaccines,” she says. “These shouldn’t just be topics that only scientists know about.”

Arathy Radhakrishnan

Arathy Radhakrishnan is the new AP Physics teacher at Washington, with a passion for her students to succeed. She is an avid enjoyer of hikes, and loves to explore national parks with her family. Her family is very important to her, and she loves spending time with them by watching movies and cooking after a long day of teaching. Though this is her first year teaching AP Physics, she has worked in all sorts of places, such as Evergreen Valley College, San Jose, and has even taught at an elementary school. Although she has made a big jump from teaching elementary school students to teaching high school students, she finds that thanks to the guidance of the district and her fellow staff members, the adjustment has been much easier. From a young age, Mrs. Radhakrisnan has been interested in space, which led her to pursue her degree in astrophysics. Following in the footsteps of her aunts and her mother, she decided to become a teacher, and hopes that her passion will motivate her students to similarly go into STEM.

Salvador Lopez

Washington’s new Spanish teacher Salvador Lopez was born in the rich, and vibrant neighborhood of Yahualica, a town in Mexico. The colorful streets and lively atmosphere made him feel the connection of community, which led him to have a strong sense of appreciation for his culture. Mr. Lopez did not initially plan on teaching, as he first pursued a career in environmental conservation. He soon realized while being involved with the National Park Service Youth Conservation Corps that he had the opportunity to connect with others culturally on a deeper level through teaching. During his years in community college, Mr. Lopez focused on completing general education while also learning whatever sparked his interest. He transferred to UC Davis after earning his associates degree, and majored in Spanish. There, he joined many extracurriculars and increased his knowledge of the general world, along with some tips on how to educate. After earning his Bachelor's degree Mr. Lopez sought out a masters degree which he earned at Stanford University. He says, “teaching has been a fulfilling and rewarding journey for me.” He enjoys watching his students learn and embrace the Spanish language and culture. He notes moments when his students grow and learn something new. “A cherished memory is the day I saw a struggling student grasp a challenging grammar concept,” he said. “Witnessing that ‘aha’ moment and the sense of accomplishment on their face was incredibly rewarding. It reinforced the idea that every student has the potential to succeed with the right guidance and encouragement.”

Brandon Green

Brandon Green, a Washington High School alumnus, is the new transitional counselor at Washington High. His experience working with other districts, including Dublin Unified and San Leandro Unified, was extremely helpful in aiding his transition to Washington. Mr. Green divides his time between Washington and Centerville, working primarily with eighth graders and freshmen. He studied at Washington in his junior and senior years! His upbringing to become a counselor was shaped by Mrs. Tseng, his high school counselor. As an IEP student, Mr. Green felt that he was struggling with school, and it was not until he came to Washington that Mrs. Tseng provided the support he needed. Passionate about counseling, Mr. Green focuses on building relationships with students, aiming to be a trusted “outlet” for support on anything students need. Beyond his counseling life, he has a background in playing football and volleyball and has even coached these two sports. If students need any advice about sports, feel free to stop by his office for additional training sessions for extra help! Mr. Green suggests to students “To try your hardest, the earliest you come to high school to learn how to advocate for yourself.” His most important advice though, is “Don't be afraid to ask for help.”

Raul Rodriguez

Eager to support students throughout high school and beyond, Raul Rodriguez takes on his first year at Washington as a counselor. This makes it his fifth year working in the counseling field, where he previously had worked at Castro Valley High School. Mr. Rodriguez pursued his undergraduate studies in psychology at UCSD and obtained his masters in counseling from SJSU. His high school counselor had a significant influence on him, inspiring him to become a counselor for older students. Mr. Rodriguez enjoys working with his students, where he ensures their A-G goals are on track and helps them identify their future goals, whether it involves attending a four-year university, community college, work, or military. He explains, “It just so happens that students are so caught up in their day-to-day business that they forget about the important things in life, and this results in them not knowing what to do as time progresses so I help them progress and work with them to achieve their goals.” Outside of work, Mr. Rodriguez is an avid runner, dedicating his spare time to running whenever he can. His advice for students is to “Try their best and reach out whenever help is needed.”

Daniel Edwards

Daniel Edwards is a new music teacher at Washington High. Born in Fresno, California, Mr. Edwards moved to Argentina when he was seven years old. There, he learned about the language and culture, while also growing his character. “The experiences I had there shaped my worldview and pointed me in the direction I wanted to take to make the world a better place,” he says. After living in Argentina for two years, Mr. Edwards moved to Utah where he became immersed in the outdoors. It was also in Utah where he found his love for music. After graduating high school, he sought to get a degree in musical education and become a band director. “I loved being in a marching band, and wanted to experience those feelings for the rest of my life,” he added. After Mr. Edwards did one year at Snow College in Utah, he did mission work in Guatemala, where he decided to take a break from college for a few years. He then studied and got a masters degree at the University of Missouri, and a doctorate degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mr. Edwards now leads the marching band and continues to guide his students to be the best version of themselves that they can, as he says, “I am grateful for their hard work and dedication, and for being an example to me of how much someone can grow and improve if they focus and apply themselves to meet their goals.

Austen Block
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Isabella Shimizu is a junior at Washington High School. She was born and raised in Fremont, California. This is her first year with The Hatchet. She hopes to cover stories about the arts and important events in the Washington community. Isabella enjoys playing badminton and tennis for the school. In her free time she loves to bake, read, play with her shih tzu poodle, and listen to Wave to Earth. In the future she hopes to attend a UC and pursue a major in the STEM field.

Sahar Naqvi is a freshman at WHS, and this is in her first year at the Hatchet. She was born in Texas, but grew up in San Ramon, California, Sahar now lives in Fremont. She enjoys writing stories and expressing herself through poems. She’s been writing stories since second grade and was encouraged by her teachers. She wrote her first poem during the lockdown at ten years old. Sahar looks forward to writing articles about anything. She plans on studying whatever she feels like, and dreams of becoming a successful author. Her work is inspired by her favorite author, Roald Dahl.

Viswatha Pamidipati is a junior at Washington High School. She was born and raised in Wisconsin, and moved to Fremont when she was 12. She is a first year reporter for The Hatchet who is interested in discussing topics revolving around the local community and social issues, as well as the environment. In her free time, she loves to draw, bake, read, cook, and spend time with her family. She hopes to go into a career in STEM.

Jenny Hsu is a senior at Washington High School, born in Xian, China, and raised in Fremont, California. This is her first year at The Hatchet. She is interested in covering topics related to music and psychology. Jenny has diverse interests including music, band, anime, and art. In the future, she plans on attending university and potentially majoring in forensics.

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