Teachers start new legacies


Giovanna Santiago (left) and Geraldine Chan bring their expertise to campus.

Following a mass departure of retiring teachers last year, Diamond Bar High School has managed to fill their positions just in time for the new school year. 

Seventeen staff members have joined DBHS this year include history teachers Katy Larson and Gizelle Hernandez, Spanish teacher Sergio Navarro, dance instructor Jill Riley, photography teacher Geraldine Chan, CTE Business Manager John Justine Pierce, SPED instructor Salem Robles, College & Career Pathway Advisor Giovanna Santiago, custodian Armando Luna, Attendance Officers Jennifer Chang and Maritza Bernal, English teachers Amanda Avina, Nicolles Flores and Kim Dalton as well as math teachers Jason Bae, Melanie Gonzalez and Damien Mair.

Prior to teaching at DBHS, Navarro worked as a student teacher at Ramona High School for two years where he taught both digitally and in-person.

“I was actually able to do my student teaching, at least the second half of it, in person. So I was able to do it in person so I actually do have a little bit of experience teaching with the masks and all,” Navarro said. “It’s been a great first few weeks and I feel like I’m already starting to connect with a lot of my students.”

One of three new math teachers, Jason Bae moved to America during his freshman year in high school. After some meaningful interactions with his ESL teacher, he chose to pursue a career as a teacher as well.

“She helped me out with getting used to the new environment, the culture and the language. I just really loved the experience of having a great teacher,” Bae said. “I knew I had my talents in math so I want to be the same person but teaching math instead.”

Graduating from Sunny Hills High School, Bae studied at California State University, Fullerton for his math degree. He went on to work for La Habra High School from 2015 to 2017 and Southland High School from 2017 to 2020. 

Bae moved to Diamond Bar High School because of its well-known engineering program, which helps motivate students to learn more about math. He felt that it would best utilize his skill set and help students find the right path for themselves.

“I know that students here are motivated to do well, and I just want to help with setting the right goals and taking the right steps,” Bae said.

Taking up the mantle from Bill Foley, Geraldine Chan has joined the staff as the new Photography teacher and has been assisting Rhoda Dizon with her animation class due to her background in the field.

She graduated from Walnut High School before studying animation at Cal State Long Beach. After receiving her bachelors, she completed her educational training at Sierra Vista High School.

This is Chan’s second teaching job after having served as a substitute teacher for Collegewood Elementary where she taught over Zoom.

“It’s pretty different working here because of the age gap, but it’s the same sort of environment where I like working with the people here a lot, even if they’re a little older,” Chan said. “I do really enjoy working with all the technology here because I have this computer lab that the kids get to work with.”

In order to move closer to home and become more involved in her local community, new College and Career Pathways Advisor Giovanna Santiago chose to leave her job at La Serna High School in Whittier and pursue work at DBHS.

“I used to work out of district but the job here and there are actually the same thing. The only reason I’m here is because I wanted to help students here because they didn’t have [career] services here,” Santiago said. 

Santiago graduated from Gladstone High School in Covina and went to Azusa Pacific University, where she graduated with a bachelors in political science. 

“Before moving here, I feel I didn’t get to build connections with students since everything was virtual. Students didn’t really stay around since they were just done with online [classes], nobody would stay after to talk,” Santiago said. “But it’s been really nice here, I really enjoy the interaction. Even if students don’t necessarily know where the career center is, or what it does yet, I’m trying to have an open door so that students feel welcome inside.”