The Gaucho Gazette

The New Faces of Campus

As the start of the school year commences, so begins a fresh educational chapter for a wide array of faculty, all with varying levels of experience, unique perspectives, and distinct personalities that will not only elevate the quality of the learning environment but enhance the campus community. Some of the newest faces include first-time staff additions to the world language, English, compensatory education, music, campus supervision, and counseling departments. Below, new teachers share their work experience as a staff member, express their motivation for educating at our campus, and share their goals for the upcoming school year.

Emma Hughes, Sue Jacob, Aalyna Silva, and Kevin Sittner

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Sadie Sontag

I got into teaching, but it’s more like teaching found me. [My favorite thing about my job, is] when everyone gets excited about what we’re doing.  Since I was four, and as soon as I was walking and talking, I fell in love with [music]. I am hoping to really develop and invest a strong love of music in all of my students. I’ve been teaching music for close to twenty years now, [and] I’ve been into music all my life. I love it and I love working with all these kids — Casa kids are awesome and it’s really fun to be able to teach them, they’re a great group of kids. I’m an adrenaline junkie and [something I like to do out of school] is skate — [it’s something I’ve done since I was a kid], since I was in fourth grade. [If there is one thing that I would do in this lifetime] it would be to audition for America’s Got Talent.

Shana Friedman

When I first started school, I was planning on becoming a teacher. [After teaching a college course at Sonoma State University], I realized that I enjoy working with students one on one and I discovered that teaching was not for me. I have worked [ as a counselor] at an alternative high school for youth, aged 17 to 24 who were returning to get their high school diploma. [It was] a very small school of about 40 students in Santa Rosa. I’ve always worked as the assistant director of admission at Dominican University in San Rafael. If you’ve ever commuted to Marin Country [from Santa Rosa], then you definitely want to be closer to Sonoma County and Sonoma County is my home. I love the Petaluma community and [the school] is a wonderful place. I really do prefer working with high school students who are in the process of getting into college. I do want all of my students to know that my door is always open, so they are always welcome to come to me for anything they need, problems big or small. [The most rewarding aspect of counseling] is working with the students here. High school is a time where there is a lot of struggles, but there’s also so many triumphs and goals. It’s really exciting to work with young people when they are embarking on their new journeys after high school.

Renee Chaffin

I taught for two years in Argentina, and then I didn’t have a credential. I moved home and I got my credential at Sonoma State and I started teaching in Petaluma. I’ve been teaching for four years in California. I’ve only been here for three days, but the staff seems friendly, and I’ve only taught middle school so I’m enjoying teaching high school. My favorite thing about teaching is meeting students and that every day is different. I advise people who want to be a teacher that it is a very hard job, but once you get the hang of it, it’s worth it. The hardest parts [about coming to a new school is] getting to know the culture of the school, remembering everybody’s names, making all new curriculum and lessons and then dealing with a bunch of people’s behaviors, learning everybody’s behavior, that’s hard. I’m still learning. High schoolers seem much [calmer] so far. I’m told I’m in the honeymoon period.

Marisa Alvarez

I taught at San Marin High School, and prior to that, I taught at a private school for students with learning disabilities in Terra Linda. My first teaching job was [as a resource teacher] at Petaluma Junior High School, around ten years ago. Before that, I was an assistant teacher at Novato High School, so I’ve been in the classroom for about 14 years. All of my years formally as a teacher has been as a member of the special education department. I had been teaching private school, and I decided that I wanted to re-enter the public. I grew up in Novato, but as a kid, [my family] would always come to Petaluma [for] places like the Phoenix Theater. A lot of my friends that grew up in Novato have moved to Petaluma, so I’ve liked the city and the area. I think my professional goal is to get familiar with the campus, the campus community, the students and the staff. It can be challenging because this campus is the largest that I’ve ever worked, so I tend to think of myself as a freshman. For my students, I just want them to be comfortable with me so that we can work together on them being successful throughout the year. [The most rewarding part of teaching] has been the relationships I get to create with my students. I find it really rewarding to be able to establish ties with students who continue on after high school, so those kinds of things keep me going. The students make [my time and effort] worth it.

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The New Faces of Campus