The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Staff changes: Retirements and new roles into the 24-25 school year

New World Language and English Department Leads are instated while Molly Guadiamos retires
Teacher Changes at MVHS
Guadiamos and her fourth period Spanish class pose in their classroom.
Guadiamos and her fourth period Spanish class pose in their classroom. (Riya Murthy)
Molly Guadiamos

After 30 years of teaching Spanish within the FUHSD district, including serving as a World Department Lead for over a decade at MVHS, Spanish teacher Molly Guadiamos has decided to retire at the end of the 2023-2024 school year. 

With a long bucket list filled with places she wants to visit post-retirement, Guadiamos feels the pay she currently receives makes this year the ideal time to retire. As a part of the State Teachers Retirement System, teachers get a multiplier on their pay, which is dependent on two factors: their age and the time they have served in the FUHSD district. The highest possible multiplier is at 61.5 years old and 30 years of teaching  — and recently having reached this multiplier is one of the factors behind her retirement. Though the pay teachers get is constantly changing, oftentimes going up due to base salary increases, her pay multiplier has already reached its highest value. 

“I think I'm ready to retire now so that I can still get out — I have a lot of really active plans for my retirement,” Guadiamos said. “I like to go and do active things and I want to still be able to do that when I retire, to have my health and my fitness to go and pursue those adventures. So that's it. I think 30 years is a good run.”

Back in high school, Guadiamos had concurrently enrolled in French and Spanish, where she found a passion for foreign languages and culture. After graduating from college with a Spanish degree, Guadiamos landed at Homestead High School, teaching Spanish for seven years. Eventually, she settled into a twenty-three-year-long employment at MVHS. 

“I think each school has its own culture and when I left Homestead, there was a bit of tension between the administration and the teachers,” Guadiamos said. “Here, I just loved it right away because the administration was very supportive and worked with the teachers. Also, within my department here, we really collaborate and really communicate — we're very much on the same page.” 

Guadiamos believes that teaching encompasses a lot of small challenges., Ffor example,  she often experiences the challenge of having to adapt and constantly create new content. However, she finds that figuring out the best and most efficient way to teach challenging subjects and helping students discover their own ways of learning, their “little keys to be unlocked,” are aspects of teaching that, while at times is challenging, in the end, is rewarding. 

“You're just kind of just barely scraping by as a new teacher — you're having to create everything from scratch instead of just being able to rework it or tweak it, so it's really kind of frantic to be a new teacher and just learn your craft,” Guadiamos said. “Whereas now it's more settled in and I have a lot more tools in my toolbox than I did then. But I'm still creating new things and still trying to try new things also. So there I think that aspect never goes away.”

Zoey Liu

Chinese teacher Zoey Liu will be succeeding Sarah Finck as the World Language Department Lead in the 2024-2025 school year. A teacher at MVHS for nine years, Liu aims to bring her experiences and strengths in teacher training and social-emotional learning to her new position.

“I've been teaching workshops to teachers for years, so I would be thrilled to share some of my best teaching strategies with our department colleagues to see how their students respond to it,” Liu said. “Hopefully, it will encourage more people to come forward and share teaching activities or strategies that their students like so we can learn from each other.”

The role of Department Lead has shifted to a more instructional role as previous responsibilities have slowly become digitized. For example, in previous years Department Leads would be in charge of getting paper documents ready, including checking out books for the entire department. With the ability to scan barcodes to check in books, the responsibility of doing so has been removed from the role of Department Lead.

In her new role, Liu wishes to focus on the three goals outlined by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges: ensuring equitable grading policies, helping struggling students, with an emphasis on individuals with special learning needs and promoting students’ social and emotional learning. Viewing these goals as strongly student-centered, Liu aims to ensure teachers feel supported by emphasizing the importance of collaborating and streamlining classroom activities between teachers within the department. 

“I understand some teachers might have some concerns about adopting new techniques and new strategies in the classroom,” Liu said. “My guess is that adding new activities is adding more to those teachers' plates which are already full, so I would like to try to start with activities that are low preparation or zero preparation.”

Through changes such as these, Liu wishes to use her position as an opportunity to share her experiences in teacher training and continue developing the World Language Department and the activities they do with their students. 

“I feel very flattered that I got this position because I think there are other people who are more capable and experienced in our department than me, but because of personal reasons or because they want to focus more on teaching their program they're not taking this position right now,” Liu said. “So it will be a learning opportunity for me. And personally, I am excited to share my experiences.”

Lynn Rose

English teacher and AVID Coordinator Lynn Rose will be stepping into her new role as English Department Lead for the 2024-2025 school year. Rose will be teaching four periods of English classes, teaching American Literature and another subject that will be decided when course allocation is set in stone. This marks the second consecutive year MVHS has had a change with the English Department Lead position, as English teacher Monica Jariwala held the title for the 2023-2024 school year. Rose shares that Jariwala has been helping guide her through the process, including interviewing and searching for a new English teacher for the next school year. 

Besides getting accustomed to the responsibilities of an English Department lead, such as leading department meetings, managing orders for books and assisting with general conflicts, Rose feels one of the biggest challenges the department will have to handle the following school year is the rise in student use of AI in essays and other writing assignments.  

“It's hard to know the instances right because it's almost impossible to check,” Rose said. “AI detectors aren't that great and AI itself is getting even better every day. We're still sort of muddling through it. Mr. Shimazaki and I assigned this essay on American Born Chinese, and we added in a personal connection evidence requirement, and that was in response to AI use. Some teachers are talking about going back to handwritten pen and paper essays, but that's not a task students are going to be asked to do in their future, so different teachers are doing different things.” 

Overall, one of Rose’s main goals as English Department lead is maintaining transparency in the department. Referring to her time as a teacher in MVHS when she joined in 1997, she felt there wasn’t much collaboration between the teachers as the Department Lead would enforce their own decisions. Specifically, the absence of tutorial and collaboration blocks made it difficult for teachers to communicate with each other. Now, Rose highlights that the department functions as a team, and as a teacher herself she wants to make sure communication between the department is valued. 

“An important skill of being Department Lead is making sure that it's a safe environment and that everybody's voices can be heard and are valued,” Rose said. “As a veteran teacher, you’re continually working on that in your classroom to make sure that all students feel like they have a say in issues and they're important. I want to make sure in the department that our teachers feel that same way, that they feel like they could come to me if they're struggling with something.”

About the Contributors
Samika Bhatkar
Samika Bhatkar, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Samika is currently a junior and Arts & Entertainment editor for El Estoque. She loves listening to hip-hop and rap music and playing with her dog. In her free time, Samika watches NBA games or cooks Indian food with her mom.
Riya Murthy
Riya Murthy, Staff Writer
Riya is currently a junior and a staff writer for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing poetry.
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