“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
This is one of several famous statements made by former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden. His grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman, collected his sayings and have made them available on his website, woodenswisdom.com.
Minhoh Han said he first embraced Wooden’s words about the value of “little things” after college.
“This quote makes me pay attention to every student and consider how every student is doing every day because if I see a student not doing well, there might be more reasons than just assuming that the student is lazy,” said Han, one of three new teachers added to the Math Department this school year.
Hired to teach algebra and geometry, the University of California, Irvine [UCI], graduate is also a Sunny Hills alumnus from the Class of 2009 — joining the other 13 instructors who also attended high school here.
It was at UCI where Han earned a bachelor’s degree in math that he developed a love for the subject and wanted to share his passion with high school students.
“Because of my math degree, I was able to get a job in finance so I got to work with numbers, data and interest rates,” he said. “I wouldn’t have had those skills if I didn’t study math in college.”
Han realized that he could make more of a difference by becoming a teacher rather than being in an office job.
“I realized that I could work with people more as a teacher and I especially wanted to mold the younger generation which is harder to do in the finance department,” he said.
In 2014, Han decided to quit his job as an actuary for an Orange County pension firm to go back to school at Pepperdine University for a teaching credential, which he obtained in 2015.
Han said his previous experience as a math teacher for two years at Warren High School in Downey has helped him grow as an instructor and that he considered a return to his alma mater as an instructor after hearing from some of his former classmates.
“I’m friends with [teachers] Mr. [Jae] Byun and Mr. [Chris] Ghareebo; both reached out to me when they heard that there was a position opening here,” he said. “It was an opportunity that was too good to miss.”
Beginning his new chapter at Sunny Hills, he said he looks forward to establishing relationships with his students.
“My goal this year is to help my students improve in their math skills,” Han said. “Also, for the students who are already good at math or even those who struggle, I want them to see that math can be fun and interesting if they see it from a different perspective.”
Before he got his start in teaching, he was questioning whether the career path he had been on was right for him.
“I wanted to do something more than just work at an office, and I wanted to work with people to use my math skills.” Han said. “I thought that being a teacher would be the best way to do that because I get to use math every day, and I also get to interact with people.”
His own high school experience here made him value his education more.
“I think Sunny Hills helped me see how using education as a tool can help me toward a lot of paths whether it’s for college or different careers,” Han said. “There were a lot of students who cared about their grades and future, which was very impactful on myself as well when I was in high school.”
Graduating from SH and experiencing the lifestyle at this school has made him connect better with his students, as Han has noticed some key similarities among students here vs. when he was a Lancer.
“The students here care about their academics and they care about their future, and that’s the culture that existed since I was a student here,” he said.
Science teacher and girls tennis head coach Ghareebo said he and Han have known each other when they were in high school, which is why Ghareebo (also the Class of 2009) offered Han the opportunity to help him coach the girls Junior Varsity tennis team.
“He has always been a hardworking, determined individual and that will make him a good teacher because the students will emulate his work habits,” Ghareebo said.
Even though the school year just started, Han sees the passion that his students have about their academics and school culture.
“I like to interact with students and just help them out with whatever they need, whether it’s academically or if they need advice on life,” he said. “I just enjoy teaching math and helping students learn.”
Freshman Olivia Haptonstall, who is in Han’s fifth period geometry class, finds him easy to learn from and trusts that he has his students’ best interests in mind.
“Mr. Han is very helpful and although I’ve only had him for two weeks, I can tell it’s going to be a good year,” Haptonstall said. “He allows us to make up tests and gives us a fair amount of homework and time to learn the material.”
Sophomore Arianna Amirthiah agrees, as she realizes that he’s very inspiring and shows that he likes to teach his students about math.
“Mr. Han is very understanding and tries to make sure all of his students understand the topic we are learning,” Amirthiah said. “He can also be relatable which can help us students relate as well and he’s overall a great teacher so far.”