New Chemistry Welcomed To PHS

Cole Nash, Staff Writer

Flames, chemicals, explosions. A beautiful array of colors appear as a set of chemicals is ignited. This is what room 302 looked like on the morning of Sept. 6 as the “Flame Lab Test” took place. 

Labs are just one of the many ways chemistry teacher Priscila Ibarria keeps her classes engaging during her first year at PHS. 

Ibarria previously taught at Holy Names High School for seven years. She felt overwhelmed by her workload there, where she taught five different subjects, all of which she said were “math and science intensive.” 

“[Piedmont has] a much happier and balanced schedule than I’m used to having,” Ibarria said. 

Ibarria teaches Chemistry and Honors Chemistry this year. Although she said that she is challenged by her larger class sizes, positive student behavior has compensated for this difficulty.

“This year there is a larger volume of students that I am dealing with,but I am enjoying how engaged and active students at PHS and MHS are with their classes and classmates,” Ibarria said.

Ibarria said her teaching philosophy is founded on patience, the ability to be understanding of a situation, and the ability to adapt. She tries to give her students the resources that they need and provide help if they get left behind.

According to Vice Principal Irma Muñoz, 12 teaching positions were left vacant at the end of the 2021-22 school year. The administration had to hire numerous new faculty members and integrate them into PHS. Ibarria was one of these new hires.

The teacher mentorship program at PUSD pairs new teachers with Piedmont veterans. Ibarria is currently partnered with Honors Chemistry teacher John Savage.

“[Ibarria’s] experience is large. She’s been teaching chemistry for a long time… [I’m] helping her navigate a lot of the paperwork, staff meetings, and fire drills that comes with being a teacher at Piedmont High,” Savage said.

According to PMS librarian Jennifer Gulassa, the mentorship program is divided into two parts: The Teacher Induction Program (TIP) and Teachers Engaged in Active Mentoring (TEAM). Experienced educators like Ibarria are placed in the TEAM program, a tailored support plan for teachers during their first year at Piedmont, while teachers who are new to the profession are placed in the TIP program, a two year hands-on training course required by the state of California. 

“For TEAM in particular, we meet for an hour every week and offer guidance when requested. It could be anything logistical, from how to do Schoology or what to do at back to school night, to something broader, like helping to set goals for an evaluation,” said Social Studies department chair and TEAM mentor Allison Cota.

With the aid of the mentorship program, the administration, and eager students, first year Piedmont teachers like Ibarria are able to support their classes to the fullest extent and truly enjoy their time at PHS.