New biology teacher Jennifer Lee returns to SHS after 3 years at LG

September 29, 2023 — by Florence Hu
Photo by Bryan Zhao
Students in biology class peer into a microscope and record their observations.
Saratoga High alumnus hopes to ease student pressure with open communication.

From 7th graders to seniors, Jennifer Lee has taught a wide spectrum of students across a range of subjects including math, physics and biology in her 17 years as a teacher and mentor. She is now teaching four classes of freshman biology after spending the past three years as a science teacher at Los Gatos.

A 2002 graduate of the school, Lee came here six years ago to teach biology and anatomy and physiology for a couple of years, filling in an open spot. 

“It’s really hard to say no when positions open up in a territory and they don’t come up very often,” Lee said. “And because I was a student here before myself, the idea of coming back and getting to work at a school that helped raise me was super intriguing.”

When COVID-19 hit and class enrollment went down, she joined Los Gatos High teaching math, physics and biology classes. Although she wasn’t teaching at SHS, Lee remained the club adviser for SHS’s robotics teams. When science classes opened up this year, she returned once again to teach biology and also be the school’s WASC coordinator for its mid-year report. (WASC is the school’s accreditation process.) 

As a former student, Lee observed that the loyal campus culture fostered by the community at Saratoga High is still around — she is among several teachers who have returned to teach at the school they once attended. However, she’s also noticed that the pressure to perform well academically and be well-rounded has intensified.

“I think a lot of students feel the need to take on more,” Lee said. “Like the number of AP classes or how many summer internships we do— those weren’t non-existent when I was a student, but I think the pressure to do more of that has certainly increased.”

To ease the pressure, Lee’s message is straightforward: talk to her. She repeatedly emphasized that there are many ways she can offer support in helping students balance their schedules. Last year, she had students who started regularly coming in to ask questions because they’ve realized the benefits of actively getting their questions explained.

“We’ll answer all your questions and I will give you full credit because you made the attempt and you reached out and you let me know that you’re going to come get help,” Lee said. “Advocate for yourself, ask for things and oftentimes there’s a solution in there.”

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