Titan Shield

Wide Breadth of Experience Characterizes New Staff

New staff members excited to experience reputation of excellence at SMHS.

Skyler Pak, Hannah Charity, and Crystal Wu

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San Marino Unified School School District announced the addition of seventeen new educators for the 2017-18 school year. Six of them, who introduced and embraced themselves in the welcoming support of the San Marino High School student body during the first week assembly on August 18, are Titans.

They’re experience is as varied as their titles.

With ten years under her belt, Michelle Harris brings her previous experience as a school psychologist at West Covina Unified School District to SMHS.

After four years at the Virginia Military Institute, she received her bachelor’s degree and later earned her master’s in psychology at Cal State LA. She has four daughters who are 20 months, three-, eight-, and nine-years old and a beta fish named Han after Han Solo from Star Wars.

Harris and her family engulf themselves in a love for sports. Along with her husband Ian, her family enjoys watching football, cheering on the Green Bay Packers, while two of her daughters participate in jujitsu. Generally, her family watches and cheers on any sport.

As a movie enthusiast, she loves a variety of movies including Good Will Hunting and Silence of the Lambs, but would pick Star Wars as her favorite.

Obviously! It’s a given right? I mean, just all of them.  It’s phenomenal.”

She had been impressed with the Titan reputation before arriving.

“I was just really impressed with the kids and the staff, she said. “The level of professionalism was just top, top quality, and I wanted to be a part of that culture.”

School Psychologist Serafina Palazzolo previously worked with patients for speech and therapy at Glendale Adventist’s Play to Learn Pediatric Outpatient Clinic, and at Huntington Middle School last year.

She originally earned her bachelor’s and master’s in business at the University of Michigan. Following several years of working professionally in business, she decided to return to college for a postbaccalaureate degree. She attended four different universities: Western Michigan University, University of Michigan, Chapman University, and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

She now works with students individually and in small groups.

She noticed the San Marino way as a student intern last year at Huntington Middle School.

“I loved the personal attention that the teachers gave students, and it just seemed like a good atmosphere to help give students a chance to learn as much as they can and start their educational career out,” Palazzolo said.

With over 14 years of experience teaching special education, Steven Brown previously established himself as a passionate educator at Montebello Intermediate School.

Brown was also a baseball standout. He played baseball as a catcher at San Diego State University during his first two years of college, and served as a coach for the minor league organization of the San Francisco Giants for three years before returning to college at UCLA.

He currently teaches Study Skills, U.S. History, and English.  He met his wife of 26 years, Belinda, at UCLA and they have three children, Zach, 18, and twins Aaron and Sydney Ellysse. 

“So far this has been one of the greatest teaching experiences that I can remember having because of the students, the environment, and the parents,” Brown said. “That’s a formula that I’ve rarely experienced with everybody truly involved in student success.”

English teacher Zachary Quiggle previously taught in Chicago, which in terms of the weather, school, and kids is completely different from the environment at San Marino.

“Although it was a rewarding job, I feel a lot more comfortable here,” Quiggle said.

He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri, and after working in advertising for some time, he returned to school to receive his teaching license. He will soon receive his master’s degree.

Having older triplet sisters, the Cleveland native was always outnumbered by girls in a household with his parents and a couple of dogs. After living in Chicago for most of his life, he and his girlfriend, Samantha, recently moved to Los Angeles.

“It’s been a great year so far,” Quiggle said. “I’m just looking forward to settling in, learning, and becoming a better teacher every day,” Quiggle, said.

Science teacher Kailin Duan grew up in San Jose in northern California, but is originallyfrom Iowa.   

After earning her Bachelor and Master of Biology at the University of California San Diego. She researched cyanide antidotes and cell signaling before attending MIT for her PhD in Applied Biosciences and Bioengineering to look at cancer stem cells.

However, not wanting to spend the rest of her life doing lab work, she decided to leave the MIT program and went to Cal State LA for her teaching credential.

She runs daily, and listens to alternative rock.

Duan echoes her new peers.

“Everybody’s been very supportive, and the community is definitely what everybody made it out to be,” she said.

Although not new to the district, Robert Chacon is new to the high school.

He teaches English Language Development, and is adviser to the Titan Shield. He lives close enough to enjoy a 10-minute commute to work.

He is passionate about the outdoors and spends a great deal of time hiking, backpacking and snowboarding in the Sierra Nevada. He’s come face to face with bears, buried in snow storms, and subsisted on the fish he’s caught in lakes and streams.

“I’m a type-two fun kind of person,” he said. “I have to experience some sort of struggle and challenge in order to enjoy what I’m doing,” he said.

New music teacher Denny Bui Vuong is a local boy. He grew up in Alhambra, attended Alhambra High, and eventually pursued a music degree in music education as well as his credentials at Cal State Long Beach.

He enjoys listening to all kinds of music, although jazz would be his go-to genre.

He enriches himself in music knowledge by reading topics ranging from the history and evolution of music to advice for conductors regarding rehearsing a band. He also played  football at Alhambra High School.

“I am really grateful to be here, and am appreciative of the support I’m getting from the parents and administration, and the culture here,” Bui said. “I love being a part of a culture of excellence.”.

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Wide Breadth of Experience Characterizes New Staff