A Word with New Hires

Ali Elmalky and Annie Qiao

Teacher: Katie Wi

Subject(s): Modern World History and Honors American History

What made you decide to accept a job here at Portola?

“I accepted a job at Portola because it’s hands down the best school around! There’s really no other school quite like PHS. It is such a unique campus in that every single aspect of the school is structured with learners in mind. From the “bell” schedule to the set up from the learning spaces, everything about the school is set up to help foster a welcoming learning environment. The teachers and students are so supportive of each other, and the culture at Portola is something I definitely wanted to be a part of.”


Teacher: Anthony Pham

Subject(s): Physics in the Universe and AP Physics 1

What are some fun/interesting facts about you that you would want students at PHS to know?

“I love building and designing stuff. My favorite recreational activity at the moment is doing escape rooms with my friends. I also hike, ice skate, kayak, boulder and play video games (I own a Switch, PS4 and a PC). I also play Fortnite on PC. I’ve also been on Ellen’s 12 days of Christmas.”


Teacher: Caroline Aldemir

Subject(s): Spanish 2 and Spanish 3

Why did you decide to teach Spanish?

“I actually began my career as an English teacher but wanted to teach Spanish because I always loved Spanish class and found it so fun, engaging and critical to learn a second language.  It’s fun to teach a class that allows you to help your students develop a crucially important life skill and also to learn all about the world around us.”


Teacher: Jen Ochsner

Subject(s): Enhanced Math 3, Math 2 and Math 3

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

“I have always enjoyed working with students and helping them discover a passion for learning. There is no greater joy for a teacher than watching a student ‘get it’ for the first time and start to see math in a new light!”


Teacher: John Olivares

Subject(s): Physics in the Universe and AP Physics 1

Why did you decide to teach Physics?

“Physics is where we can unlock the secrets of the universe. Everything obeys the laws of physics. If it exists, it can be described with physics.”


Teacher: Desmond Hamilton

Subject(s): Literary and Language Arts

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

“My experience with caring and dedicated educators made me keenly aware of the power of education and caring educators to dramatically influence a person’s life. I think high school is an important stage in a learner’s development, and it should be a time when meaningful ideas and great thinkers are presented to young people for review and analysis.”