MERCED -- There will be some new faces in front of high school classrooms in Merced, Atwater and Livingston next week -- and some of them were students at those campuses way back when.
The Merced Union High School District held an all-day teacher training workshop for 25 new teachers last week at its District Support Center at Olive Avenue and G Street, said Sandy Schiber, assistant superintendent for human resources.
Fourteen of the teachers are alumni of district schools.
"If I had to summarize the new teachers," Schiber said, "I'd say they are well-prepared and eager. The bigger picture of a high school is more than the classroom; it's about connecting students to school through athletics, clubs, tutoring or leadership."
Several of the new teachers will be coaches and advisers, Schiber said, and they have demonstrated strong relationship skills. She said Superintendent Scott Scambray is focused on getting more students engaged in extracurricular activities at their schools.
Austin Worden, 30, is the new activities director at Golden Valley High School in Merced. In his eighth year of teaching, Worden comes from stints as a teacher at Winton Middle School and with the Peace Corps in China.
Worden's parents were teachers, and he knew early he would follow their occupational path.
He is a 2000 graduate of Atwater High School who graduated from Merced College in 2002 and got his bachelor's degree in social science in 2004 from California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock.
School spirit 'contagious'
"I am very excited," Worden said. "This job is right up my alley. I think school spirit is contagious. This is my passion, not just a job. My goal will be adding new traditions and new spirit. My goal is to make every Golden Valley student part of the team. I feel confident and excited in the move I made."
Worden said if students are spirited, that will trickle into the classroom. He will teach student leadership as well as organize and implement activities on campus.
Jacqueline Arredondo, 23, will teach sophomore English this fall at Golden Valley.
Born in Merced, she's a lifelong Livingston resident and a 2006 Livingston High School graduate. She graduated from CSUS in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in English and is working on her credential through National University.
"I'm super excited; it's so rewarding to make it into my own classroom," Arredondo said.
A district substitute teacher for two years, Arredondo said hundreds applied for teaching positions last year. She hopes to influence not only students' academic aspects, but their entire lives, teaching them skills they can carry through life.
Arredondo plans to coach track and field as well as cross-country running. She admits to being nervous about giving the right perception to students.
"I want to be the best person I can be," Arredondo said. "I know I'm not perfect and there's always room for improvement. You live and learn."
She stresses that the teacher-student relationship has to be professional at all times. A teacher needs to help guide students rather than be friends with them. The transition from university to the classroom has been smooth and everyone at Golden Valley has been very helpful, she adds.
Marcia Carrillo is one of three Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program mentors working with the new teachers. She has been a mentor for six years, and taught biology and physical education before that.
"What I'm noticing is they want to know the expectations of the district and they seem to be receiving that well," Carrillo said. "It's a diverse group of teachers; they also seem to be in tune with the English-learner program."