Dance and chemistry get new teachers

Gaby Dinh, Asst. Web Editor

After many days without a proper teacher, the dance and chemistry classes at Diamond Bar High School can all breathe a sigh of relief with addition of Kari Simonson and Malinalli Cooke into the Brahma family.

Cooke is a new chemistry teacher replacing Jennifer Bravo, who recently became the Instructional Dean of English, Career Education, and the Arts for DBHS. Cooke is taking on Bravo’s honors and regular chemistry classes, while Bravo’s two Advanced Placement classes have been divided between teachers Carly Russo and Teresa Hebert respectively.

Before Cooke started on Oct. 23, a majority of Bravo’s chemistry classes were taught by a substitute teacher for three weeks. As an instructional dean, Bravo can only teach one period, which is her third period honors chemistry class.

Since Cooke transferred over in the middle of the semester, she plans to go over topics that the students were unable to fully comprehend.

“I’m just trying to get everybody on the same page and move forward as a class. It is hard because I have kids from different teachers and different positions in the textbook, so they’re used to the way their old teacher taught them,” Cooke said. “It’s definitely going to be a transition.”

Cooke is certified to teach chemistry, biology, and geoscience in high school. However, she says that her favorite subject to teach is AP Environmental Science, which she taught at her old school in Silver Lake. If the opportunity occurs, Cooke says would like to teach the class again.

The other recent addition to the Brahma staff is Kari Simonson, the new dance teacher. Simonson is replacing previous dance instructor Janna Van Horn, who has become the new Activities Director.

Simonson has over twenty years of dancing experience, having coached dance at Woodbridge High School for eight years as well as having toured internationally as a dancer herself. Aside from teaching, she also currently works as a teacher in the Jimmie DeFore Dance Center in Costa Mesa.

“Diamond Bar has always had a reputation of excellence and a high standard quality for the dance program,” Simonson said. “It’s the students and their passion for the art. That’s what drew me to this school.”

Simonson has found the transition here in the middle of a semester to be relatively smooth. She said that her first few days were enjoyable and that she is currently helping the dance students with the upcoming winter dance concert as well as the Dance Team and All-Male competitions.

“I think Mrs. Van Horn has done an amazing job getting the kids ready to where they’re at now for the concert and the competition,” Simonson said. “I have experience in producing and directing shows so I think the concert’s going to come off great. The kids are going to do a great job. I’m very excited to be here.”