Get to Know Portola High’s Student Teachers

Some people never look back after graduating high school, but at the start of spring semester, Yultzin Angeles, Kassandra Arias, Victoria Ghulam and Meghan Minguez-Marshall have stepped back into classrooms, now as student teachers. Each of them has transitioned from observing their mentor teachers to independently teaching social studies or literary and language arts classes for two periods.

Social studies student teacher Yultzin Angeles is mentored by social studies teacher Heidi Martasian and said that Portola High’s progressive attitude toward social justice is one of her favorite aspects of teaching students. Yultzin began college without declaring a major and discovered her love of education in a non-traditional manner.

“One quarter, I randomly decided to take an education course,” Angeles said. “I just thought, it’s so cool learning about the different disparities between different schools and different communities. And I thought, hey, this is super awesome. I would like to be a part of that change. I would like to make an impact on kids.”

I feel like working with kids and educating our future generation is one of the biggest ways to make an impact on the world.”

— Victoria Ghulam

Arias, who is mentored by literary and language arts teacher Brianna Rapp, said she strives to make her classroom a space where learners can balance working toward both their academic and personal goals. Her teaching philosophy stemmed in part from her own experiences as a high school student.

“I don’t think I really loved English when I was in high school, when I remember doing it, until my senior year,” Arias said. “But that senior teacher switched everything for me, made me love English. And it just felt like the best time I had was in his classroom talking about books with him. So I wanted to do that and give that to students.”

Ghulam teaches modern world history and American history and is mentored by social studies teachers Emily Sheridan and Jon Resendez. Her own education was transformed only after she explored a variety of academic interests at the collegiate level.

“I’m the daughter of immigrants and was expected to go to medicine or law or anything like that,” Ghulam said. “So I obviously went on that track, and halfway through, I just realized—I love history, and I want to teach kids about history. I feel like working with kids and educating our future generation is one of the biggest ways to make an impact on the world.”

Minguez-Marshall, who is mentored by literary and language arts teacher Katherine Hooper, is planning to teach both English and drama. Along with teaching, Minguez-Marshall is a graduate mentor for the Brown Bag Theater Company, a student-led organization at the University of California, Irvine that focuses on Latinx stories.

“We need the youth of our country to be educated so that they can make decisions about who they want to become,” Minguez-Marshall said. “I really wanted to work with adolescents. Not necessarily kids, but adolescents, when you’re grappling with a lot of those big social questions like, ‘Who am I?’ ‘What’s my identity?’ And also, ‘how do I learn?’”

All of the student teachers will continue to teach at Portola High until the end of the semester, when they will go on to graduate with their Master of Arts in Teaching degree and teaching credential from UCI later in the summer.