School’s academic focus pleasant surprise for new English teacher

October 15, 2009 — by Karen Yang

As English teacher Valerie Arbizu stepped into her English 9 classroom on the first day of school, she was surprised at what she saw. Instead of having to quiet down the class, the students were not only quiet but ready and alert to learn.

“For me, coming into a classroom and having students ready to learn is a new thing,” said Arbizu.

Coming to Saratoga High after teaching for seven years at Evergreen Valley High School, which is located in East San Jose, Arbizu noticed a big change in the academic environment.

“Where I’m coming from, the kids were coming to learn, but they weren’t asready as my students are here.”

Arbizu decided to apply for a job at Saratoga to have a different experience. After finishing her master’s degree in educational administration this summer, she wanted to work at a smaller and “higher functioning school.”

While the student population at her previous campus totaled to almost 2,700, the Eastside district also had severe financial problems. In addition, many students from Evergreen Valley did not have support at home or from previous teachers.

At her prior job, the focus of the students was primarily on social aspects. As a result, the academic focus of many students here is “a new thing” for Arbizu, who is also teaching English 12.

“It’s kind of a shock to the system,” said Arbizu, “in a good way.”

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