The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The student website of Van Nuys High School
Van Nuys, California
The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

New year, new staff

The school’s newest educators share their stories and discuss their aspirations for the school year ahead.
The school’s newest teachers share their individual inspirations for pursuing a career in education.

English teacher Ms. Alexa Strassner

“My teaching is really grounded in mutual respect. I respect my students as people and they respect me as a person, not just as student teacher. My old high school teachers inspired me to pursue a career in education. I really loved my old high school English teachers. Five words that describe me are funny, energetic, creative, ambitious and kind. Outside of the classroom, I love fashion, sewing, crocheting and going to the beach. I watch a lot of movies and I love music. In my experience, the most rewarding aspect of teaching has been forming relationships and getting to know the students. It can be fun. So far, the most challenging aspect of my career has probably been staying organized. It’s tough for me, but I’m working on it. I want my students to realize that they can write and read, even if it’s hard for them or if they haven’t learned it in the past. I really believe in them and know that they have the ability. I’m excited to see what the year brings.”

PSA Counselor Jouse Reynoso

“I’m calm, laid back, kind, selfless, and family- and community-oriented. My high school counselor left an impact on me and inspired me to pursue a career in education. Working with families that don’t want to be worked with is challenging, but you get to have a positive influence on people’s lives and sometimes set a path for students. I try to relate to the student; if you ask enough questions, you get to know them a bit. Outside of school, my hobbies are playing with my son, taking care of my chickens and watching basketball. I’m big on not stressing over things that I don’t have control over or something that hasn’t happened. It’s almost like you go through it twice.”

Biology Teacher Ms. Diana Campos

“I love to train animals, to hike and travel and be outdoors. For example, this summer I just hiked to the top of a volcano. I’m open-minded, a perfectionist, evolving and an animal lover.  Being a TA inspired me to pursue a career in education. Getting to work with students and teaching them something new was really rewarding. Getting students excited about science and seeing their excitement is rewarding, although maybe getting every student to enjoy the class is the most challenging part of teaching. I try to get to know my students and get them to enjoy what they’re doing, even if it’s not outside of this class. It’s okay for them to be wrong because we’re all evolving and learning new things.”


Health Teacher Mr. Ross Spalding

“A few words that describe me are hardworking, early bird, and awesome. My interests outside of the classroom are working on my own car and spending as much time with my kids as possible. The most rewarding part of teaching is being able to connect with kids, get to know them better and hopefully have a little impact in their life. From my class, I hope that my students can learn time management and understand life expectations after high school. My teaching philosophy is to try to have as much flexibility as possible.


Special Education Teacher Ms. Willow Euless

“I had a really amazing history teacher in high school who inspired me to pursue a career in education. It rewards me to know that a student tells me  that they used what I taught them in a different class. I encourage my students to ask for help and own up to their mistakes. So far, the most challenging aspect of teaching has been cell phones. Five words that describe me are organized, colorful, excitable, bubbly and positive. In my spare time, I like to hang out with my dog, bake cookies and cook.”


Foreign Language Teacher Ms. Maria Ochoa

“My high school Spanish teachers encouraged me to pursue a career in education. Because of them, I wanted to be surrounded by a school setting. I’m positive, energetic, joyous, patient, and attentive. Outside of the classroom, I really love exercise. I go running a lot, and I exercise with my partner. The most rewarding part of teaching is when I see my students succeed and come out of their shell. I had students that were quiet and shy and they didn’t want to speak up in class, but by the end of the semester they had made new friends. I like to stand by the door and greet my students as they’re walking in so that they know that I am paying attention to them. I really want my students to not be afraid to communicate with others since they are learning Spanish. If they know Spanish, they will be able to connect with other individuals that they otherwise couldn’t.”

College Advisor Ms. Krista Lombard

“I love being able to connect with students when teachers allow me or invite me into their classrooms to do classroom presentations or through big events, Schoology and just being available. My job is to help students with their college and financial aid applications. I have a master’s in social work and I chose school social work because I always liked school and I wanted to help students. I felt like education was a really great way to help someone change their whole life. The most rewarding part of my profession is being able to help students, in a very specific way that can change the rest of their lives. However, sometimes the stories I hear can become overwhelming. Learning how to balance that desire to help someone with understanding that there are challenges outside of your control takes some skill. I’m enthusiastic, passionate, a cheerleader, a motivator and fun. I love good food, gardening and spending time with my family.”

Math Teacher Mr. Joshua Train

“I have a wide range of interests and hobbies, from sports to music to solving puzzles. Five words that describe me are motivated, ambitious, adventurous, creative and empathetic. The most rewarding part of teaching for me is not only helping a student overcome his or her difficulties, but also knowing that I inculcated him or her with the appreciation to become lifelong critical thinkers. As a math teacher, my philosophy is to impart an appreciation for students to become lifelong learners (not necessarily in math per se) but to use the ability to think critically to solve problems. To question oneself with words like can’t, will only handicap one from reaching his or her potential. Anyone can learn and do well if he or she applies themselves. Of course, the most challenging part of teaching is the paperwork, which comes with ANY job that is worthwhile.”


Social Studies Teacher Mr. Christian Valenzuela:

Down the street at a community college, I took a Chicano studies course and that just blew my mind and opened up all the possibilities that I didn’t know I had. That kind of got me in the door of teaching.  I use ethnic studies frameworks to question the production of history, to question dominant narratives. I want my students to think critically about the state of the world. I try to teach my students the history that we’re not taught, the history that’s not in the books. Five words that describe me are cunny, caring, optimistic, community-oriented and proudful. Outside of the classroom, I love nature, camping, and being with my family.”

Social Studies Teacher Ms. Jillian Rundall

“I grew up going to work with my dad and seeing him teach. I have also always loved school, so it made sense that I ended up pursuing a career in teaching. The most rewarding part of teaching is being able to connect with students through the content that I teach. The most challenging aspect of teaching is creating a work/life balance. My teaching philosophy is that, because I only have my students for an hour a day, I want to create a fun and safe learning environment that they can thrive in for that hour. I want students to learn to be understanding and empathetic towards other people. Five words that describe me are driven, empathetic, happy, creative and loyal, and my outside interests are cooking, baking, spending time with friends and being outdoors.”


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About the Contributors
Mia Ramirez, News/Features Writer
I never thought that one day I would sit and write news stories all the time. When I was little the only thing I liked to write about was fairytales and popstars. Now that I am older the focus of my stories have shifted. As a staff writer for The Mirror, I write stories that focus on real people and what they have to say.  I have written multiple stories for the paper and I continue to search for new stories wherever I go. Outside of journalism, I am the captain for Van Nuys’ cross Country team and am constantly looking for new ways to make people smile.
Olamide Olumide, Staff Writer
Olamide Olumide is a News/Features staff writer. She is a freshman, so this is her first, but not her last, year of journalism. Outside of journalism, she enjoys reading, dancing, and listening to rap and k-pop music. Currently, she is the Secretary of the Freshman Board. She owns her own Etsy shop where she sells handmade jewelry. She is hoping to attend college after high school and pursue a career in criminal law.
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