Precalculus teacher joins school with 19 years of experience

December 15, 2022 — by Parav Manney
Photo by Parav Manney
Berkeley graduate and long-time math teacher Khan Criswell accepted a job opening as the new Precalculus teacher in September this school year.

The math department welcomed Khan Criswell shortly after the need for a new Precalculus teacher came to the attention of the school earlier this semester. Criswell, who is in her 19th year of teaching, has background teaching math classes from Pre Algebra up to Precalculus. 

“It’s an opportunity I thought I wouldn’t get again, so I took it,” Criswell said. 

Criswell said that her passion for teaching stems from her childhood wish of teaching at the university level. 

“I wanted to be a professor, but getting a Phd takes a long time, so the next best thing was to get a master’s,” Criswell said. “I also wanted to teach in high school. I started out as a volunteer at Berkeley and really liked it, so I went and got my official teaching credential.”

 Criswell taught at James Logan High School in Union City for 15 years, and spent part of that time working with math teacher Lisa Ginestet-Araki.

At Logan, they both taught Honors Precalculus and Algebra 1 together, collaborating between their classes. When the job opening here came up, Ginestet-Araki asked Criswell if she was interested. She readily accepted when principal Greg Louie offered her the job in early September. 

“I live here [in Saratoga] and have friends who have kids that have gone here, so it seemed only natural to accept the offer,” she said.

Even though she took the job out of convenience, her core reason for teaching math coincides with the experience she has teaching the subject. 

“I’m no mathematician, but I know enough math and have the qualifications to teach all the high school courses,” Criswell said. “It’s not the easiest subject to teach, though. You have to like it in a way to want to learn it.”

As a Vietnamese immigrant, Criswell feels that in a different world, her career path could have turned out differently.

“I think that if I had been born here, I would have probably taught English instead because I love to read,” she said. “I love literature, but  as an immigrant, your language is never going to be like you’re born here.”

Still, Criswell instills a passion for math and skillfully teaches the subject, according to her students. 

“Ms. Criswell teaches using notes that describe the lesson whilst being interactive with her students if they need help,” junior Issa Hyder said. “She has definitely developed a love of math in her students.”

Throughout this school year, Criswell has maintained her excitement for teaching her new students.

“James Logan and Saratoga High School are very far apart from one another, so I feel like I’m teaching at very opposite ends,” Criswell said. “I definitely think my time at SHS will be a good one.”

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