Navigate Left
Navigate Right
Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Venice High Welcomes New Teachers For This School Year


The Class of 2027 isn’t the only thing that’s new to campus this year. Learn about several of the new teachers Venice High has welcomed into the Gondolier community.

History Teacher Isabel Cortes

History teacher Isabel Cortes grew up in Santa Monica with a lot of family that worked in education.

“My grandfather and sister were the first teachers in my family,” she says. 

Cortes’ grandfather and sister both taught in Oaxaca, Mexico, going to pueblos or communities and would teach people Spanish and arithmetic. Her mother also works as a preschool teacher.

Here at Venice High, Cortes teaches U.S. History. In the class, she is especially interested in focusing on teaching different stories by people of color, Americans, and Historians. She describes teaching and now having her own classroom as “such an incredible experience.”

Cortes got an undergraduate degree at UCLA and focused on learning history, specifically counter-narrative history and Chicana & Chicano Studies, which explores the Mexican origin population in the U.S., highlighting the U.S.-Mexico border and Latino existence nationwide. She studied while being a teacher’s assistant at Dorcy Middle School and Gala Middle (an all-girls middle school).

Now Cortes wants to support students and make sure they understand the content they are given as she is finishing her last year at UCLA. She will now begin working on what it means to be an Ethics Studies Educator. 

Education is a big part of Isabel’s family identity. 

“It’s definitely something I’m proud of saying when I come from a family of educators,” she says. “It’s one of the many dreams I’ve always had.”

Cortes says in her classroom she encourages her students to use “Ethnic studies and memory-based lenses” and figure out what it truly means to be a person of color living in the United States. She also emphasizes listening to the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian-American communities and their perspective throughout history in her class.

Cortes is very passionate about being a teacher.

“ I always learn something new from students,” she says. “I think that’s one of the most rewarding parts of education. Even though my name is on the door and this is my room number, I learn so much from my kids every single day and I really honor that space as well where students can also be the teacher.”

Biology Teacher Victoria Garay Rosales

New Biology teacher Victoria Garay Rosales is from a bordertown called Calexico situated on the Mexican border. She describes herself as an “extraverted human.”

“I like to talk, I like to laugh. If people were to describe me they would say ‘loud.’ I’m also very patient.”

Garay studied for two years in a UCLA teachers credential, specifically in the STEM Teacher Three Pathway Program, which involves either becoming a STEM teacher or a science teacher. This year, she is currently getting her master’s. 

Before having a full classroom to herself, Victoria Garay did internships, programs, and worked as a substitute teacher for a year. Last year she was a student teacher, but now this is her first year by herself as a teacher.

There are a lot of factors that inspired Garay to become a STEM teacher. Growing up, she saw how inequitable education systems often excluded Black and Brown students from academic spaces. She also says that students may not feel “feel smart enough or don’t feel like they are worth being in STEM spaces.” 

Garay claimed it wasn’t until she took an education course in her third year of college that she was “blown away with the reality.” 

“My lens was removed, the veil was removed, right? So I was hit with the reality of how messed up things are, and I feel like I could make a difference,” she says.

Garay’s goal is to now make sure students feel educated enough to possibly pursue science as a career or to have more of a respect for science.

So far, Garay’s fondest memories  as a teacher is “seeing students be into an activity, and just genuine joy in the classroom while engaging in science.”

“I’ll catch myself like laughing or smiling, you know,” she says. “It’s the little things, because I think for a long time science can be seen as such a sad space, and I think, it doesn’t have to be.”

Social Studies Teacher Emily Healy

Social Studies Teacher Emily Healy is thrilled to be at Venice High.

Although originally from New York, the Government and Economics teacher recounts her positive reaction when visiting the campus.

“I got a really good feeling about Venice High when I came to scope it out,” she explains, adding how she felt really welcomed by the staff.

Despite being new to teaching, Healy is not new to working with today’s youth.

“I’ve been working with young people for years now in informal education settings like after school programs and summer camps.” She goes on to describe her student teaching experience as “eye-opening.”

Healy also has many goals she wants to accomplish while at Venice.

She says that she wants to work towards “building strong relationships with her students and colleagues” while expressing that her ultimate goal is to stay at Venice High for ten years.

As for her personal life, Healy is a full-time grad student, loves the show Succession, and her favorite animal is dogs. She describes herself as “energetic, friendly, and nice”. 

English Teacher Caitlin Kheang

For English teacher Caitlin Kheang, a goal is to be a teacher that students can depend on and connect with. 

“I really want each of my students in my classes to know that they are valid and seen and that someone at school is supporting them and just wants to be there for them,” she says. 

Kheang, originally from Orange County, attended Cal State Fullerton, receiving her bachelor’s in English, and went to USC to get her master’s in teaching.

During her four years as an undergrad, she tutored high schoolers in English, math, science, and history. When she attended USC, she was a student teacher at LAUSD. 

Since she was in the third grade, she had wanted to be a teacher. At first, her passion was to teach elementary school. However, as she got older, she realized the importance of high school teachers. 

When she first arrived at Venice, she felt scared of being a new teacher. However, since being here, the staff and students have shown her nothing but kindness. 

If she had to describe herself in three words, she would use compassionate, introverted, and passionate. She also aspires to eat at every American fast food chain.

Math Teacher Jessica Quindel Giovanna Szewczyk

Data science is “an incredible tool to change the world,” according to new math teacher Jessica Quindel. 

“It helps real life problem solving when it comes to political issues and just about anything, showing how things can be changed,” she says. 

In addition to Data Science, Quindel also teaches Algebra 2. She’s originally from Milwaukee, WI, and previously taught at Berkeley High School. 

 Her impression of her stay here at Venice has been amazing so far. It’s similar to Berkeley High because of its diversity. It’s something she values. 

“I love it—there is amazing staff and students,” she says. 

Growth mindset is the key to learning, Quindel said. Outside of school, Quindel enjoys teaching yoga and how to manage stress outside of school. She focuses on the ethics of mindfulness and actually incorporates breathing techniques a few minutes each day to ground her students. She finds it is a good way for her students to clear their heads and be able to get more proficient work done.

Something a lot of people might not know about Quindel is that she speaks Spanish. She’s also been vegan for twenty years and loves to cook plant-based meals. 

Spanish Teacher Nimsy Rivas Leiva

Originally from Guatemala, Spanish teacher Nimsy Rivas Leiva entered Venice High to live out all the happy moments she enjoyed during high school. 

Rivas Leiva teaches Spanish for both native speakers and non-native speakers.

She believes that teaching a language is not only teaching how to speak, read, listen and write in that language, but to also focus on the culture that all Spanish speaking countries have.

“Everything happened because I was looking for a reason to stay in touch with my country despite being so far away, Rivas Leiva says. 

So far at Venice, Rivas Leiva finds it very different from her last jobs but she likes the people here that are constantly giving the answers to her questions. 

From the very beginning, she knew that her biggest goal was to change people’s mind and make them realize that learning Spanish is not an extra subject. Learning a new language like Spanish can give students with the potential a lot of new opportunities.

“I want people to know that when I teach a language, I am also teaching about hispanic culture, and make students learn about their own culture too,” she says. 

When she was a little girl, she dreamed of being a chef because she always enjoyed cooking and baking. But after moving to Los Angeles eight years ago, she knew that being a teacher was a very good way to help others. 

English Teacher Elena Zhang

English Teacher Elena Zhang entered Venice High School to become more experienced, improve herself in every aspect, and to make connections with students and staff.

She loves the community in Venice. What she likes the most is that all the teachers and staff are being nice to her by answering her questions and accompanying her as she’s adapting to life on campus. 

“I want students to know that I’m very open and they can come to me for help and support,” Zhang said. 

Even though this is her first year teaching, she was a student teacher last year. Also, Zhang played pretend as a teacher when she was little and actually, her first student was her mom, who was an immigrant. She made sure that her mother learned English and that’s how she realized she actually liked teaching. 

“I like teaching my subject because I like hearing students’ stories, and also, I believe that reading and writing is a very good way to get to know a person,” she said. 

She entered Venice High School because the location was perfect for her to continue with her master’s program at UCLA at the same time that she works here. Last year, there was a teacher opening and she applied. 

If the English teacher had to describe herself in three words, she would describe as “empathic, positive and caring.” 

Other new teachers at Venice High this year include Jairo Cruz and Charlie Styrbicki.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Oarsman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *