2021 OUTSTANDING TEACHER OF AMERICA
E-Learning Coordinator & Multimedia Computer Technology Academy Director
Anaheim High School
Julieanne immigrated from Taiwan with her mother and her 3 older siblings to the United Stateswhen she was 9 years old, while her father stayed behind. Like most immigrants, her parents wanted a better life for themselves and a better education for their kids than they could ever have had in Taiwan. The family ended up living just east of Los Angeles. None of them spoke English and they did not have a very clear understanding of the American way of life or the cultural norms. When she was finally enrolled in school, Julieanne was immediately placed in an English as a Second Language Class. Slowly, but surely, she began to learn English. Julieanne’s mother did not have any formal education and never learned to speak English. Consequently, as she and her siblings became more fluent in English, the more they had to become their mother’s translator. They all shared the times to take their mother to her Dr.s appointments, shopping and other places, forcing them to miss a great deal of their childhood by becoming their mother’s caretakers. Because they were very poor, they moved frequently before eventually landing in Upland, California. Because her siblings were older, they each left home and went on to college, leaving Julianne to be the sole caretaker. When she was a senior in high school, her mother decided to return to Taiwan. Julieanne did not want to return to Taiwan, because, by then, she had friends and wanted to graduate from high school. She was left alone in the house her entire senior year, with her older sister, who was left to check in on her.
After graduating from high school, Julieanne went on to attend the University of California, Riverside where she majored in Business Administration. Upon graduation, she began working in the insurance industry, ultimately becoming an auto insurance underwriter. It was not long before she became completely bored sitting in a small cubicle, talking on the phone all day, arranging for people to get their cars repaired and finding body shops to do the repairs at a fair rate. So, she quit!
Shortly thereafter she landed a job in the entertainment industry with a post production company located in Hollywood. She worked in the Human Resources department and was a job she actually enjoyed. It was at that time when she met her future husband. After they were married, they moved to Orange County. Julieanne kept her job and commuted to Hollywood for a few more years.
As Julieanne interviewed more and more people for jobs at her company, and when she had to let people go, she began to see repeating patterns that seemed to be keeping people from being successful. Most people lacked confidence in themselves. Hardly any people they were interested in hiring knew how to interview. They did not know how to shake hands or how to dress and often were stumped by very simple questions. Most could not think quickly or clearly articulate an idea. She also noticed growing complaints from supervisors, who complained that the younger people who were hired did not know how to solve basic problems on their own and had trouble following simple direction. Julieanne then went to her boss and proposed a program that her company could sponsor with a local high school to teach basic skills that would be helpful for students when looking for employment and would improve their chances of getting a job. Her boss thought it was a great idea and offered to pay for her to take some classes that would help her develop this Life Skills class.
Julieanne says, “As I took the classes, and when I finally began working with students, I realized I was cut out to be a teacher more than a human resources director. So, I quit, completed the coursework to get my teaching credential and got my student teaching assignment at Anaheim High School. I loved it! When I got my credential, I was hired for one semester at a Middle School in Colton, CA to teach Math and oversee the Student Government program. I sent my application to Anaheim Unified School District for secondary teaching positions and was then offered a position at Anaheim High School for the following school year and have been here now for 16 years.”
Julianne’s 6 or 7 years in the business world prepared her well for a high school classroom. She came with more confidence and had a great deal of experience dealing with troubled workers, teaching adults how to get along in the workplace and keeping the work place a safe and warm environment. She transferred this experience to her classroom. She loved the challenge and believed strongly that to be successful with students she must first develop positive relationships with her students. She felt that if she was going teach them well, she needed them to learn they could trust her and count on her to be there to support their efforts and help them as much as she could to achieve success, regardless of the pathway they were considering for their life’s work. She found she could relate to her students on several different levels. First, she was an immigrant, just like many of them, but most like their parents and grandparents. She could share with them the difficulties she had fitting in to a new community and learning the culture and language. Her personal experiences certainly gave her an edge over most teachers and allowed her to make rather quick connection with her students.
Julieanne was later was introduced to the AVID program and taught a class every semester for several years, before eventually becoming the AVID coordinator. She found this was the right place for her. She enjoyed being a role model for her students and I found that she could play a much larger role in helping students find their way to college. She dedicated herself and her time to ensure her students were going to find success and to be able to support one another in their efforts.
After several years teaching and coordinating AVID, she was asked by her principal if she would be interested in putting together a Multi Media Computer Technology Academy in a partnership with the California Partnership through the California State University Department of Education, which would focus on at risk students in their sophomore through senior years. These were students who had less than 80% attendance, a GPA less than 2.2 and who were behind in credits for graduation. It was her dream job because these were the kids she enjoyed the most and it was going to be an opportunity to devote her time to see if see if she could also get them interested in going to college. For 10 years this program was very successful. They were able to send a large number of these students to college and she kept having students come back to thank her because, as they put it, her “nagging” paid off and they still live their lives hearing her “nagging” in their head to not give up and follow your dream.
After several years, the CSU system dissolved the partnership and that program went away at Anaheim High School. However, the Principal wanted to keep the Computer Science program as part of the Career Tech program. No one wanted to teach the class, so she accepted the assignment to teach AP Computer Science and Graphic Communications, which I have been doing now for the past four years.
Julieanne says, “Regardless of what I teach, my goal is to get my students to be curious, life long learners who can work independently or in groups and who think critically and can find solutions to problems rather than wait for someone to tell them what to do. I want them to know how to collaborate with others to problem solve and to take responsibility for being a contributing member of a team. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to help my students do well in college and to become contributing, kind young men and women. I look forward to many more years of this joyous job and all the challenges associated with it.