First-time falcons

In a world full of uncertainties, students know school is a constant. As leaders of the classroom, teachers have high expectations for students while simultaneously demonstrating empathy and support. This well-kept balance is especially prominent in teachers new to the profession.

“In third grade, I had a teacher, Mr. Redding,” Integrated Math 1, 2 and 3 teacher Annie Polan said. “I loved him so much; he was so kind and I remember from that point on think[ing], ‘I could be like Mr. Redding.’”

Polan, who has been teaching for two years, began her journey at the University of California Santa Barbara studying economics and accounting. An accounting job seemed to lie ahead. However, Polan did not find her calling on this pathway so a family member convinced her to go into tech. That also feel not quite right.

“It kept eating at me that I was not doing something I actually wanted to be doing,” Polan said.

After a few years in the tech world, Polan decided to take a leap and got her teaching credential from California State University San Marcos.

She began working under Kristin Sandy as a student teacher at TPHS the same year the pandemic broke loose. Through this obstacle, she kept her positivity.

“I knew that [virtual learning] was not going to [last] forever … I am not a quitter so I could not give up right away,” Polan said.

In her classes, Polan preaches the ability to think critically and push through adversities — life skills she believes will prove invaluable to her students even after they no longer need the formulas and mathematical laws she teaches.

“She very equally [values] academics and connecting with the students’ social life,” former Integrated Math 3 student Ava Wehlage (12) said. “This makes sure that the students are aware she cares about them but she also cares about their grade and passing her class.”

Polan’s professional path was not always clear, but the effect she has on others makes it clear she chose wisely.

“You get to make an impact big or small on a lot of people’s lives,” Polan said. “And it is fun. Teenagers are funny; they keep you on your toes.”

Switching the calculator for a pen, fourth-year teacher Olivia Bogert currently teaches AP English Literature and English 11 College Prep. As a former La Costa Canyon High School Maverick, she traded in her horns for Falcon wings two years ago. This was not the first time she has made a big change; she double majored in English and political science on the pre-law track at the University of Washington before realizing it was not for her.

“I knew I wanted to do something with reading and writing, but I was interested in the justice and legal system,” Bogert said. “I was always involved in helping [kids] learn different activities.”

Moving into education after graduating from CSUSM credential program, she began her first semester of student teaching at Escondido High School and spent her second semester at her alma mater, LCC.

“[Working at my former high school] was a unique experience,” Bogert said. “[I got to see] teachers in a different light”

Once in her own classroom, she continued supporting her students both inside and outside of school.

“I loved getting involved … going to sporting events and dances and really trying to get to know the community of the school I was teaching at,” Bogert said.

Bogert’s empathetic nature continues to inspire her students.

“She keeps her students engaged in the class and motivates them to succeed,” Autumn Bellenbaum (11), a current student said.

While some individuals found their way into teaching, others knew it was for them from the start. For Jeana Crossland, who has been teaching for four years and started working at TPHS this year, her destiny was set at age five.

“When I was little, I had a desk that my grandma and grandpa would let me play school at,” Crossland said.

This dream further crystallized as Crossland made her way through school.

“When I was in ninth grade I met my future basketball coach [who was then a] social studies teacher,” Crossland said. “I knew then that was what I wanted to do.”

Before starting her student teaching she worked as a substitute teacher, knowing she wanted to get her foot through the door as soon as possible.

“I just knew that was what I wanted to do,” Crossland said. “And even when I am stressed and tired, and worried about grades and lesson planning, I have the good days that make up for all the stress.”

Crossland’s authenticity inspires aspiring teachers such as Lillie Rietman (12) who takes Crossland’s sociology class.

“The connection she has with her students is really great and I hope to have that with my class,” Rietman said.

With their passion and fresh perspectives, TPHS’s newest teachers, especially, have a unique ability to inspire students to go into teaching. Just as Polan once knew she wanted to be like her teacher Mr. Redding, new teachers can become the role models for the next generation of teachers.

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