Irvington Teachers from Fremont

By Enya Kuo | News Editor


Ms. Chung
Marshall, Patterson, Mathis, Forest Park Elementary School
Horner Junior High School
Irvington High School

What has changed since you left and came back to Fremont?

“There’s a lot more vending machines and bathrooms now.”

What hasn’t changed?

“QUEST and WIP, except they got harder. Back then, people would choose something that’s more career-based, so it’s a lot easier to find a consultant and to do service. Now it’s only social issues. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it anymore.”

Why did you come back to Irvington?

“It was one of the three places that offered me a job. Irvington just feels more familiar, so I felt like I already knew a lot of the admins and teachers here, so it would be easier to integrate.”

How do today’s students compare to you and your high school peers?

“I feel like the honors kids nowadays are a lot more hardworking and a lot more driven to take AP classes and honors classes versus people back then, who just kind of went with it. I still see most of the kids as people relatively close to me in age, so it just feels like I’m talking to a bunch of little siblings. I guess maybe when I’m fifty, then I’ll think these are my kids instead of my siblings, so it might be different then.” 

Mrs. Cook-KallioCK
Grimmer Elementary School
Hopkins Junior High School
Mission San Jose High School

What has changed since you left and came back to Fremont?

“The buildings have gotten worse. I think that the pressure on kids may be more in the last decade than it was in the first two or so decades. There’s more hovering of parents now than there used to be. But I think less is different than people would think. We’re as crowded now as when I was in school. We’ve always been somewhat diverse, but we’re more diverse now than we used to be, and I think that’s a good thing.”

What do you think students will be surprised to know hasn’t changed?

“They think that 30 or 40 years ago was ancient history, and I don’t think that, in the minds of teenagers, much has changed. I think it’s kind of funny when a kid says, ‘Oh, you don’t know how we feel,’ when I can actually remember being in a particular room feeling that way.”

Why did you come back to Fremont to teach?

“I actually didn’t come back to teach, but a number of teachers of mine thought that I would be a good teacher and advocated for me. I think it’s an absolute honor to teach where you were educated. For years, I taught with people who had taught me. I thought that was really cool.”

What do you want to change about Irvington now?

“The building! It’s horrible. I used to laugh and say that the building was done by a prison architect, then I found out it was true. It’s called cold when it’s cold, it’s hot when it’s hot. The rooms are too small, and certainly in the last two decades, we don’t have enough technology; we can’t keep up with the stuff that we need. I think Irvington is a magical place to teach and be a student, but the building is horrible.”

How has having grown up in Fremont affected the way you teach?

“I make a joke about this but it’s probably somewhat true that to a certain degree I’m the institutional memory. There really aren’t many people left that are like me, that grew up here and also did their entire career in Fremont. I think that gives me a unique, different perspective. I think the image for you all is that Mission has always been the top school in Fremont, and it’s been this thing to which to aspire. But I don’t think that education should be a cookie cutter.”

 Ms. Smoot
Kennedy High School

What has changed since you left and came back to Fremont?

“I think your perspective as a student is very different from when you’re an adult looking at the whole system again, it’s so I don’t see a lot of the changes. It was a diverse community then, lots of school spirit. I don’t know how much Kennedy has changed since I went there.”

Why did you come back to Fremont?

“When I went back to get my teaching credential, I just wanted to go back to the place that had treated me so well. I wanted to try to recreate the same experience for students that I had. Irvington was the first phone call I got. I was interviewed by Ms. Antonacci, who was English Department chair that year. They offered me the job that day, and I accepted it.”

What would you have told high school self?

“What made me get up every morning was knowing that I had play rehearsal that night or swim practice, and I was in LEO Club. I did a lot of different things, so I would say to really make the most of your high school experience. You should get involved; we’re really fortunate that we have over 60 clubs at Irvington.”

How does Irvington’s student community today compare to your high school student community?

“We did the same kind of spirit weeks with skits and a Unity Day. Rallies were great, but we had all these different chants and cheers that seemed to have gone away. The crowds at football games were much more involved when I was in high school, and that kind of has gone away a little bit. But in terms of the energy and involvement of the students at school, it’s very similar. It was a good, positive, very spirited experience, and it’s still that way here.”

Were you expecting a drastic change in Fremont when you came back?

“I was pleasantly surprised that it was the same. Teenagers are basically the same. They listen to different music, although the 80’s fashion has come back now. Kids are wearing high-rise jeans and leg warmers, and now I’m seeing the cropped shirts again, so it looks pretty much the way it did when I was in high school, except we had higher hair back then. But it’s the experience that it should be.”