Teachers don’t live at school?

Have you ever wondered what your teachers do in their free time?

Teachers at UPA have spent years getting to know each of their students, and now it’s time to get to know a little more about them.

Wall reads The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — one of the novels used in the 9th grade curriculum.

English 9 and current AP English Literature teacher Jessica Wall started reading as a hobby when she was younger. This interest carried into adulthood, motivating her to work as an English teacher to share her passion for reading.

Wall has watched several Chinese dramas, also known as C-dramas, and a variety of anime. She also formerly participated as the club advisor for the UPA anime club. She likes anime that are about coming of age.

“Coming of age anime about growing up tend to have more of that finished story arc. I prefer these, not stories that have no ending where the danger/conflict keeps escalating,” Wall said. “I like the satisfaction of a resolved conflict and seeing characters become better or more mature people, rather than more or less remaining the same and learning nothing from their experiences.”

Wall has seen a significant amount of the anime show “Bleach.” But, she also found an interest in watching woodworking and carpentry videos on YouTube, including how to build beds and tables. She finds it fascinating and enjoys learning about how furniture is made. She finds discovering people who are knowledgeable about their craft interesting. 

Something students might find interesting about her is that she enjoys playing video games such as “Pokemon Go.”

“I was big into playing ‘Pokemon Go’ but kind of paused for a little while, and I’ve just picked it back up. I’m like, oh, yeah, this is fun. I should do this, too,” Wall said.

Unlike Wall, Precalculus, AP Calculus BC and Statistics teacher Esther Chen chose to specialize in teaching math because she knew she wanted to be a teacher, and math seemed to be the best fit. In fact, Chen never enjoyed math; it was the most difficult subject for her, motivating her to pursue teaching in math. 

“Math was the hardest subject for me; I actually never liked math. It was a subject that would make me cry,” Chen said. “And I never really had a good math teacher growing up. So, I wanted to hopefully be a better math teacher than the ones I got.”

Chen coaches the boys varsity volleyball team.

She enjoys playing volleyball and typically does so on the weekends — either indoors or on the sand; however, she also coaches the high school volleyball teams at UPA, so it is often hard for her to find time to play volleyball for herself. 

Aside from volleyball, Chen also practices boxing and kickboxing three to four times per week at the UFC gym in Sunnyvale. Several of the coaches wanted to work with her to prepare her for fights and other activities, but Chen didn’t pursue that route since she believed she didn’t have the discipline required for such a demanding training regimen. 

She can also say “yes” in 12 different languages, which include Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, Russian, Korean, Japanese, German, Tagalog, Portuguese and English. Chen likes to teach a few German phrases in class for fun.

Vivien Chern, AP Biology, Medical Interventions, and Principles of Biomedical Science teacher here at UPA, took up her passion in the medical field, and soon discovered the joys of teaching. She was a pre-med student at UCSD, but she did not seriously consider teaching until her third year of college. However, she did aspire to become a teacher during elementary and middle school.

Chern posted about visiting the Mouse’s Tank Road in Valley of Fire state park on Dec. 14, 2022.

She has two Instagram accounts — one private account solely for school that her students can follow and a public account for her personal life and lifestyle page. Chern recalled a few sponsorships and paid collaborations, and she thought it was an enjoyable experience for her and her collaborators. 

“I got a few paid collaborations, which was nice. One was with an airline company that sent me to Las Vegas… In return, I had to create a video and photo content for them.”

She said that social media, specifically Instagram, offers a platform for her to express herself and her creativity. She has a part-time job on Instagram as a hobby, but all the creators she interacts with and follows work full-time jobs. Chern believes that social media is a great avenue for sharing things that are important to a person, like traveling and visiting new places, as well as for inspiring others. She believes social media is a really lovely and supportive community where one can meet others who share their interests and perspective.