Turning the tables around



Student teacher Jason La Meda helps enhance DBHS students’ musical skills.

Emily Jacobsson, Asst. A&E Editor

Every year, a new group of young college students begin a journey that is crucial to their future careers: student teaching. This year, Diamond Bar High School has several student teachers in various subjects who are learning their own lessons, while teaching students theirs.

Brianna Woods has been teaching under the guidance of English teacher Denise Mesdjian. Woods received her Bachelor’s Degree in English last May, and is now looking to earn her teaching credential from Cal State Fullerton. She hopes to teach tenth or eleventh grade English, as she feels the two grade levels seem to be a happy medium in comparison to the energetic freshman and exhausted seniors.

While Woods is enjoying working with the students and is learning many valuable skills from Mesdjian, she is still trying to find a way to manage her busy schedule.

“I have to find that balance between being a teacher and being a student too. I usually attend my classes right after school until 7. I have class two or three times a week,” Woods said.

As with every new experience, through student teaching Woods has learned things that have changed her preconceived notions about some aspects of teaching.

“I underestimated the amount of time it takes to actually make all your assignments from scratch and how much time lesson planning is. I thought it’d be easy, but at least for me, we have to write down every single detail, but it’s kind of fun to think of what you’re going to do every day,” Woods said.

Working with Mesdjian has offered Woods a unique opportunity to learn about the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation system, as Mesdjian is a co-writer for WASC .

A love for speaking and working with others is what inspired Fiona Rizzo to pursue teaching as an occupation.

She is currently working toward receiving her teaching credential at Cal Poly Pomona, for single subject math, while teaching under Math teacher Maureen Baiz.

“I didn’t choose teaching at first, but I realized that I liked teaching when I started tutoring people. I found out that I like helping people,” Rizzo said.

Growing up, Rizzo always found that math came easy to her, though it was never her favorite subject. As a 2009 DBHS alumnus, Rizzo remembers her math teacher, Michelle Hansen, as being dedicated to helping students understand each lesson. Now as a student teacher, Rizzo hopes to deliver lessons of the same quality.

“To be honest, my favorite part of teaching is when students get it. I try to break a very difficult concept into very simple ones, they get the simple ones and I can build on it. When students get what you think is supposed to be difficult, that’s my favorite part,” Rizzo said.

Also attending Cal Poly Pomona is band student teacher Jason La Meda. He is completing his teaching credential in single subject music, and hopes to teach music to high school students.

“On a personal level, I’ve always felt that through music I was the most useful for other people and that’s what it boils down to. For me, that means trying to create the most positive experience for students,” La Meda says.

Working under music directors Steve Acciani and Marie Sato, Le Meda has been able to observe all the aspects that he finds valuable in a music program at DBHS, including performance opportunities and leadership experiences.

Since he began playing instruments in fifth grade, Le Meda is no stranger to performing in a band. However, as he now finds himself on the opposite side of the conductor’s stand, Le Meda continues to learn new things.

“I’ve always known that as a band director the amount of work behind the scenes is a lot,” La Meda said. “But actually seeing it and experiencing it first hand, I underestimated the amount of work.”