Portola Pilot

How Do Other Districts Compare With IUSD?

Photo Courtesy of Kyle Traska
Instrumental Music teacher Kyle Traska, who grew up in Oregon, WI, later taught in Oregon School District and De Pere School District.

Tiffany Wu, Staff Writer

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On Aug. 23, hundreds of new students entered the iron gates, nervous for their first day. Simultaneously, dozens of new teachers waited in their classrooms with sweaty palms, excited yet nervous to begin teaching in a brand new school district.

Math teacher Amanda Welch is part of a military family and has four districts under her belt: two from Oklahoma and two from Florida. These two midwest and coastal areas differ greatly.

“In the midwestern area, not every single family is oriented to go straight to college,” Welch said, “whereas on the coastal regions that tends to be a more common exit out of high school: to go directly to college and then do something else.”

Though college is not in the immediate future for these students, math still serves as an integral part of their present learning and future occupations.

“I’ve had some students go to trade school, or some of their families were farmers, and so that was what they ended up doing,” Welch said. “So what I had to teach them varied, depending on what they would want to use the information of math with. It has been very unique and fun, being able to do that.”

Spanish teacher Caroline Aldemir previously taught in all four schools within Saddleback Valley Unified. In addition to the differences in student diversity, Aldemir notes the benefits of IUSD when it comes to teaching.

“In IUSD, I have a lot of better resources and support as a teacher than I am used to, so it’s nice, and I do feel supported,” Aldemir said. “I have the technology I need, and I have a beautiful classroom, and I have so many other teachers to work with and collaborate with, so that’s been a big change.”

SVSD’s biggest difference to IUSD, however, lies in scheduling, with Portola High’s block schedule offering an often unappreciated advantage to its students.

“Saddleback kids have to see all their classes every day, and they have a lot more homework than you guys do.” Aldemir said. “I like how you guys get to see just half your classes every day, so you can really focus on some things and get some studying done.”

Music teacher Kyle Traska taught in the Oregon School District and the West De Pere School District in Wisconsin. Located in smaller towns than Irvine, these districts offer an active band and marching band community that Portola High is aiming to model.

“I like the resources that are available, the respect that is given to teachers by peers and administration, the facilities, the equipment that is given to the music program,” Traska said. “I feel like out of all the schools that I applied to and looked at, this is the district that takes care of its employees the most.”

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How Do Other Districts Compare With IUSD?