Interviews by Audrey Kim
Photos by Dhruv Singhania
Jayson Estassi — Social Science
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I went to Mills High School. After Mills, I [studied] history and Spanish literature. I lived two years in Spain, and after that I taught English in the high school systems, then I went back to graduate school in the East Coast to get my masters in teaching. I decided after that I didn’t want to walk in snow drifts at 5 a.m. in the morning, so I came back to California … For the past three years I’ve been teaching in San Jose and I just came to Aragon.
What is your top priority right now?
For me, I think the most important thing is to have positive relationships with people and with my students, with my colleagues, to be a
contributing member of the community, whatever the context. Whether it be about school or my personal life or whatever else.
Michael Flynn — Health & Physical Education
What is the funniest thing that you’ve experienced in your teaching career?
I would always dress up for Halloween, and years back, I dressed up as Napoleon Dynamite. I didn’t have gray hair back then and my hair is very curly. One of my players came in to see me and she was laughing so hard that she had to run out of the classroom and was saying, “I’m gonna pee my pants, I’m gonna pee my pants!” and it was just so funny to see her do that.
Why did you decide to come back to Aragon?
A couple of reasons. One, I missed working with students because I was a full time administrator at the other school. I didn’t get to interact with the kids except when I was coaching so I missed that component. And two, I wanted to be closer to see my daughter. Being here, I get to go and see all of her sporting events. When I was at Crystal Springs … I had to be at the [events there] because I was in charge. She’s only got two more years and she’s a three-sport athlete and I wanted to come watch her play.
Jessica Valera — Science
What are the hardest moments of teaching that you’ve experienced?
When I was in Venezuela, there were a lot of challenges because the country was in complete political and economic collapse … some of the students’ parents worked for international companies. The employees were under orders not to leave the house because the protests in the streets were so bad. Just continuing on and keeping the normalcy of school in situations where it seems like the whole world crumbling around you, whether that’s literally or emotionally.
Why did you go to Venezuela [to teach]?
I had just finished a chapter in my life where I was competing in marathon open water swimming … I swam across Lake Tahoe, I swam between two islands in Hawaii, and I made a strong attempt to swim the English Channel … After that, I was ready for the next big adventure in my life. I was interested in Spanish as a language and I had traveled to South America before so I was just drawn there … I did my research to find the best international schools in South America because I didn’t want to move there with no plan.
Jessica Wong — Special Education
How did you start teaching special ed?
Out of college, I knew I wanted to teach, I just didn’t know what. So, that’s where the job as an aide kind of came into play. I was an aide for a special ed class and then from there I really enjoyed the challenges that sometimes come with special education. I enrolled in a credential program, got my masters and did the whole bit.
What is the funniest or weirdest thing that has happened to you as a teacher?
I get mistaken for a student all the time. I’m used to it now, but it definitely used to weird me out a little bit. A lot of people used to think I was a senior when in actuality, I was a teacher.
What is the best thing about teaching?
What I enjoy about teaching is that moment in students when something just clicks. A lot of times in special education, you have to find different ways to teach material or out-of-the-box ways to teach the material and so when it finally clicks and the student understands it, it’s the best feeling in the world.