Welcome new teachers

Redondo’s new staff share their values and beliefs on teaching as they start their careers at RUHS



Jennica Smith, Geometry and AP Calculus AB teacher:

What are you looking forward to the most this year as a teacher?

I used to work at a charter school in downtown LA and we were a really small school. Now that I’m teaching in a really big school, I’m really looking forward to all the school events. I love rallies; I went to a high school that was really similar to this. So I just really enjoy school spirit. I was a cheerleader, so I’m really just excited about all of it. 

What are your values as a teacher?

I’m a math teacher, and my biggest value is that I believe everybody can be good at math. And so that’s kind of how I lead my classes, so when I see a student kind of doubting themselves, I say “Hey maybe you don’t get it now, but we’ll figure this out.” I’m not someone who agrees with the idea that someone can be “not a math person.” I think it’s just maybe you haven’t been given the right approach.

Sabrina Bodine, Algebra 1 and Geometry teacher:

What made you want to become a teacher?

I know that a lot of students don’t like math, and I always hear people saying “Oh you want to be a math teacher? I could never.” My goal is to really help at least one student change their mind or at least not like math a little less. The larger motivation was that I had a science teacher when I was younger that made me want to become a teacher. The way she ran her class told me that it is possible for students to be in a good environment, and for students to be happy. I wanted to be that teacher for other students: someone students could talk to about things outside of school and math.

What does mental health for students mean to you?

I think it’s one of the biggest things, actually. A lot of my deadlines are very tentative mostly because I know a lot of students, especially now, struggle with that. I think mental health is honestly a little more important than I think school is most of the time. Like if you need a break, just take 30 minutes for yourself. I think mental health is definitely something that shouldn’t be ignored. And if you miss a couple points on something because you took a little break for yourself, it should be fine. I know that coming from a teacher it’s a little frowned upon to say that but I think it’s important that you’re always taking care of yourself, before you try to do anything math related or otherwise.

Cale Espinel, Biology, Physics and Chemistry teacher:

What are you looking forward to the most this year as a teacher?

I am looking forward to getting practice as a teacher being in a traditional classroom. After being on zoom last year, I was teaching but it’s not the same at all. Honestly, everything was harder on zoom. Doing everything for the first time in person and planning out longer class periods according to this schedule is so different from what I did online.

Why did you become a teacher?

I just like the kids, the population. I’ve taught English, math and science. I’ve taught at the adult school, I’ve taught a lot of classes here, so it really doesn’t matter what I’m teaching. I just like helping people, especially in special ed. I like the challenge that comes with teaching kids who may need more help or help in unique ways.

Dana Nomura, Algebra 1 and Geometry teacher:

What made you want to become a teacher?

I was deciding what I wanted to do in college and I had a math major already. I was offered education courses and as soon as I started there I’ve never changed topics. I’ve stuck with it and I’ve absolutely loved it ever since. I love working with young adults, students, young children, and whoever else.

What’s an experience this year that reminded you of why you love teaching?

I think a lot of the students love the idea that I feed them based off of the system I have in class. There’s currency involved in our class, so they can always buy food from me, and I understand that we’re all human and I just want to be as fair as possible. So the idea is like they’re going through puberty or they’re growing up or whatever right? I was in their shoes. I know what they’re going through and I just want to support them. It’s really cool to see that.

Lauren Lee, Algebra AB and CD teacher:

What are your values as a teacher?

My values include making sure that my students are successful. Not just in the classroom, but with any goals they have, especially their goals after high school. I think it’s important for students to realize that what they learned in the classroom is applicable after they graduate. I just want to make sure that they do well here so that once they get their diploma, they’re good to go and have a path they want to go down.

What’s a moment that reminded you of why you love teaching?

I think it’s those tiny moments when the “light bulb”, so to speak, goes off and they truly understand what’s happening in the classroom. What really makes a big difference for me is that they take this understanding from my class and they’re able to apply the things they’ve learned to real life.

Elizabeth Cohen, English 10 teacher:

What made you want to become a teacher?

I didn’t want to have a typical office job in a cubicle. I’ve always loved kids, even when I was a kid, and I knew I wanted to do something that made a difference and impacted people. So that’s my hope.

What’s an experience that reminded you why you love teaching?

This is my 13th year teaching, so I’ve had a lot of students. I remember one of my students at another school that I had for a third grade class, and I saw his continuum of being a student. I saw him when he was a child, and again once he graduated. I loved seeing the progress that he made, how he changed, and how he became a man. He was in the military, he was dating, and now about to be married. It’s amazing to see the impact you’ve had. Even if you don’t feel like you have an impact, I still get notes from him and his mom who still reach out to me which makes you feel good. It’s cool to know that I touched somebody and made a difference in their life.