English department hires new teachers, ending a competitive search


Carly Heltzel

After narrowing down the pool of English teacher candidates from almost 100 online applicants, the hiring committee announced in early March that Julie Song and Jose Rosario will be joining the English teaching staff next school year.

Both new hires will teach ninth grade Survey of Composition and Literature, while Song will also teach 10th grade Advanced Placement Language and Composition, and Rosario will teach some English Language Development classes. The school was prompted to start the search by the growing student population and positions left by teachers leaving at the end of this school year.

Administration started the hiring process by setting a criteria representing departmental values and expectations. Assistant Principal William Blair said that student voice on the panel carries a lot of weight in the interviews and the decision.

After being a student teacher for English teacher Steven Kahl, Song said she gained valuable experience by applying the teaching theories and concepts she learned from the Stanford Teacher Education Program to a real classroom. For the past six years, Rosario taught English at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, but before that, he was also a student teacher under Kahl. Rosario also mentored Song last summer through the STEP program.

Song helps students in Honors American Literature class

Song said she was hesitant when she first applied for the job because of the competitive salary and the little experience that she has. However, after submitting an extensive application to EdJoin, a teacher hiring site, and being one of eight candidates chosen to be interviewed, Song said she was encouraged by the supportive and accessible process. Twenty-four hours before the interview, candidates received the seven questions they would be asked the next day.

“[The administration is] trying to really test you on the person and the teacher you are going to be,” Song said.

Because she grew up in South Korea and was at one point an English language learner herself, Song said she comes with a better understanding and awareness of how students viewing themselves as “not an English person” can have detrimental effects on their motivation, and subsequently their learning.

According to Rosario, the comfortable and friendly nature of these interviews allowed him to present a complete and holistic picture of himself, including personal aspects of how he will contribute to the program.

After the eight candidates were interviewed, three finalists were selected to teach a demonstrative lesson for an MVHS class; the hiring committee of three students, three teachers, and three administrators watched the lesson. The committee debriefed with the prospective teachers after the lesson to allow them to explain their choices, methods, and what their plan would be for moving forward.

Rosario in his classroom at Sequoia High School

Rosario taught a ninth grade Survey of Composition and Literature class for his demonstrative lesson.

“It gave me the opportunity to showcase things that I value in the classroom, my personal teaching style, and how I chunk a lesson into parts,” Rosario said.

As both a ninth grade Survey and ELD teacher next year, Rosario said he mostly focuses on personal improvement in the classroom and believes the philosophy that “it’s not about where you start, but it’s about where you end.” He said he hopes this classroom mentality will encourage his students.

Rosario said he was most excited when he was told that he will read the books Frankenstein and A Christmas Carol in his class next year because of their classic reputation and the issues they bring up about human nature.

According to Blair, the administration consistently gets many high quality candidates from throughout the country because this is such a coveted school, and narrowing down candidates is difficult because of their quantity.

“I’m excited to work with Mr. Rosario and Ms. Song,” Blair said. “I think that they are fantastic additions to the team.”