The Daily Lives of Teachers
The PDF file of "The Daily Lives of Teachers" featured on "Unknown," the Accolade's magazine.

Story written by entertainment editor Michelle Buckley, staff reporter Hannah Jeong, photographer Chloe Lee and photo editor Megan Shin

All photos reprinted with permission from Helios.

Spanish teacher Gene Bordy

Gene Bordy

Q: What is something you enjoy doing individually outside of school that students aren’t really aware of?
A: I like observing or playing sports, especially when it’s a competitive match. I love getting exercise by either playing basketball or racquetball. I like going to the movies or reading a good book.

Q: What was the last movie you watched and what did you think about it?
A: The last movie was “The Mule.” It was alright, but I was hoping for a bit more in the story.

Q: What book are you reading now or have read recently?
A: I am reading Great American Speeches, which I am enjoying as I see how articulate some of the greatest Americans were in their writings that became speeches.

Q: What is something you enjoy doing with your family outside of school?
A: [My family] goes traveling. We went to Bolivia two summers ago to see family and friends there. I would really like to travel to Israel to see the places the Bible talks about. I just love getting together with them. Playing a game or just having a meal together is special.

Math and science teacher Chris Peoples

Q: What is something you enjoy doing individually outside of school that most students aren’t aware of?

A: I love to tinker and play with things. I like designing equipment, machinery and demos for labs. I try to figure out how to build things for cheaper. Healthwise, I swim a lot, and I’m trying to keep a cardiologist unemployed.

Q: Since you mentioned about tinkering and playing with things, can you tell us more about a specific project you’re working on right now or hope to work on soon?

A: When I tinker or play I am usually in the process of developing a piece of lab or demonstration equipment that is pertinent to what I am currently teaching. Since I am teaching fluids in Physics 2, I am in the process of designing a venturi tube apparatus for demonstrating the Bernoulli effect. For Physics 1, I’d like to build a Galileo (clock) escapement to show periodic motion and conservation of energy.

Q: What is something you enjoy doing with your family outside of school?

A: My family is a big water polo family (though I never played). Both of my sons play, one for University of California, Santa Barbara [UCSB] and the other for Long Beach Wilson High School. We support both teams, providing a meal for the UCSB team when they are in town and going to most of their home games. My wife and I are also on the boys aquatics booster board for Long Beach Wilson. I also tend to most of the equipment used for water polo and swim meets, performing maintenance and repairs when needed. As for restaurants, we have a few local neighborhood haunts we visit. For Mexican food, which everyone in the house loves, we usually go to a small local chain called Taco Surf, where I usually have cheese enchiladas and/or tamales. We also have a local pizza and Italian food places we like to go to, perhaps our favorite being Domenico’s in Belmont Shore. The big bummer is we are still looking for a decent Chinese food restaurant in Long Beach.

Math teacher Mariam Tan

Q: You just won the Dancing with the Staff trophy last year, so students might think you enjoy dancing. Are there other things you enjoy doing outside of school that students aren’t really aware of?

A: I love surfing, and I enjoy working out [at] boot camp classes and boxing classes. I enjoy reading and cooking enough to be in a book club and cookbook club, [which] lets me try different recipes and eat lots of foods. I also play softball on a league, but I’m basically a warm body because I can’t throw and because I sometimes strike out.

Q: What is something you enjoy doing with your family?
A: I like snowboarding with friends. With family, I enjoy [playing] games such as Chinese checkers, in which six people can play, so it’s really fun.

English teacher Jennifer Kim

Jennifer Kim

Q: What do you do after school as your “daily routine”?
A: My daily routine for the past 15 years has revolved around my children –– Hannah and Noah. They’re so busy with their after-school activities that I’m pretty much a chauffeur in my free time.

This year, since Hannah has tennis until 4:30-5 p.m., I’m usually in my classroom working, planning for the next day or grading and recording. It’s like there’s never enough time to do all that stuff.

Once Hannah’s finished, we usually head home to eat dinner. Then, depending on the day, it’s choir or baseball or tutoring or Girl Scouts or something. There’s always something.

Once I leave school, I usually leave my job at work. It’s all about family and “me” time after school.

Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies and why?

A: I think that, for the past years, as I get older, my favorite pastime is going on walks. I usually set aside two hours to myself to walk.

I try to do it a couple of times a week. I’m pretty lucky to live across the street from a state park and a regional park, so I usually head out there and have quiet time to myself.

I like to look at the scenery and be out in the trees and nature. I try to get in a few miles every time. It’s just peaceful for me — a time to reflect on my life, work, family, goals, what I’m going to eat and where I’m going on vacation.

Q: What are common misconceptions that students have of you?
A: I think I hear that I’m really scary a lot, but once the kids get to know my personality, they usually appreciate my style. I’m kind of blunt, and I can be a little brash, but I like to think they’re not afraid of me but more afraid of my expectations of them as students.

Q: What is your home life like?
A: I love my home life — well, I love my life overall in general. Home life is great. I have a wonderful, supportive husband. I have two very different kids who keep me busy. We enjoy life.

I like to travel and eat, so I base my vacation time around that. We travel and eat well. I think for the most part, though, what I love about my life is that it is uneventful. We live a quiet life.

We’re good citizens of our community and country. My husband and I try to raise our kids to be thoughtful and contribute something to life.

Overall, we’re just happy. That doesn’t mean life is always butterflies and roses, but I like to look at the positive in things and be thankful.

We have great camaraderie with a close-knit group of friends who we meet up with often. We have great fellowship at our church.

Overall, I think we live a pretty balanced lifestyle.

Social science teacher Patrick DeBacker

Patrick Debacker

Q: What do you do after school as a daily routine?
A: Nap. No, just kidding. During a work day, not a lot. I like to read a lot. My wife and I always watch the news together, and she works; she’s got college –– she’s going to school –– so I have to help her do that stuff. She’s working toward [a degree in] hotel management. I read everything. I like to read history,

Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies and why?
A: I like to read fiction and novels. I like detective novels, science fiction –– except romance. I don’t think I’ve ever read romance before. I just finished a couple of detective novels, a book about language diffusion, and I can’t remember anything else.

My biggest hobby is photography (photographs in classrooms). It’s been a thing that I loved since high school. And I’ve also always loved backpacking and hiking, so I like to combine the two. And traveling.

I collect music, too. I have a collection of over a thousand CDs. Albums and a pretty large library of books, too.

Q: What are common misconceptions that students have of you?
A: That I’m mean. I think some students think I am. But it’s because I sometimes have to be, but I don’t think it’s mean –– I think it’s just being somewhat strict. Just a little bit.

Because I don’t like kids to sleep in class, people just think I’m unapproachable. I joke that I have a baseball bat in my closet –– which I do have a baseball bat in my closet [in my classroom]. Somebody left it in here; he or she was doing an AP United States History project.

Q: What is your home life like?
A: My home life is absolutely wonderful because I am married to one of the most incredibly beautiful and wonderful women I’ve ever met. It took me a long time to get there, but we’ve been married seven years now, and it’s great. My wife is from the Philippines. She actually comes from a small village, so she never really traveled anywhere.

But she’s the only person in her family who ever got to go to college. She’s a licensed pharmacy technician, but now she wants to get a degree in hospitality hotel management, and that’s kind of our goal. It’s to retire somewhere and live out my golden years on the beach.

We’ve been able to do quite a few things. Her family is pretty poor. They’re farmers and fishermen, and they live in remote buildings, so we’ve actually been able to upgrade their house and fix it up. We dug a well. We’ve also purchased three fishing boats, so I actually own a fleet of fishing boats.

We’ve also been able to do other things for their family, like help their kids go to school. It’s really rewarding to me to see the difference that I’ve been able to make, not only in my wife’s life, but also for her family back in the Philippines. It’s been a big deal.

My wife sometimes comes up and says, “Darling?” and I know how much money I have to send to the Philippines. But I’m happy to do it; it makes me feel good.

We also send boxes. So we fill up these big, giant boxes filled with clothes for the kids and toys and candy and also stuff that they need. Like one year we sent a bunch of life preservers over because we were worried about the storms.

Math and AVID teacher Christian Bueno

Christian Bueno

Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I grade because it takes a lot of time. We only get an hour [at school], and it’s not enough, so I take it home. I grade on either Saturday or Sunday; the other day becomes a family day. I hang out with my husband and work on projects.

We also like to play board games; on Fridays, we like to go to board game night with friends. When I do have down time, I just spend time with friends, meeting family members.

I hate cooking. My husband cooks, but I like to watch TV. I like comedy and science fiction.

Q: Do you have any pets or kids?
A: I got a small cat in August and a dog in September; no kids, but maybe someday in the future, at least not yet; I can barely take care of a cat and a dog.

Q: What is your ultimate goal in life?
A: I haven’t thought about it that far. I think to just be happy. The year goes by so fast, we forget to cherish it.

Social science teacher and ASB co-adviser David Fenstermaker

Q: What did you do before teaching?
A: I worked at Disneyland for two and a half years. I worked in the parking lot directing traffic, telling people the spots to park in and selling parking tickets at the toll plazas. I also rode on the back of the tram giving the spiel about folding strollers, park hours and shows or parades. I also worked on the trains that travel around the park –– there you ride on the side of the train, load and unload passengers and do some help with parade guest control.

Q: What do you do after school?
A: I do ASB stuff sometimes. I go home and try not to think about school a lot of the time. I got a wife and two kids, so that occupies a lot of my time. I watch sports, and I play golf.

Q: What do you do on the weekends?
A: I go to basketball games and soccer games for my daughters [ages 9 and 13]. I watch TV and go to the movies.

Q: What type of cheerleading parent are you at these games? Do you shout and scream at the officials, or are you sitting in the bleachers quietly watching your girls? Or a combination of both?
A: I am a the worst kind of parent at these games. I will say that I am quiet, but I cannot sit still. I am pacing the whole time off to the side, muttering to myself. I am constantly trying to ref the game from the sidelines, and if I yell, it’s either at my own kid or the official.

Q: What do you do during winter or spring breaks?
A: We travel. I have a sister who lives in Washington, D.C, so we go there to see her. Last summer we went up the coast to Oregon.

Q: Since you enjoy traveling, what is one place that you would like to visit some day and why?
A: I think I would like to go Europe. Haven’t been there. Taught a lot about it and feel like it’s kind of important to understand the places we talk about in class.

Dance teacher and Dance Production coach Leiana Volen

Leiana Volen

Q: What is something you enjoy doing individually outside of school that probably students aren’t really aware of?
A: I love being crafty, so I do a lot of art and crafts, which is something interesting I do. I am also a big foodie and go out to dinner.

My husband and I go out. That’s our entertainment, going out to dinner and finding the best place to eat.

Q: What is something you enjoy doing with your family outside of school? On your free time?
A: Kind of like I mentioned, we love to eat. My husband is a professional poker player, so we go to Vegas a lot.

I love going to Vegas, and we go often. Our weekend getaway is Las Vegas, and it is really fun.

Q: Do you ever play poker with your husband just for fun? Or does it get too competitive? Do the two of you prefer to play video games or board games or something like that?
A: My husband and I love to play poker with our friends and family just for fun. We are definitely competitive though. We have frequent friend and family game nights, and we each LOVE to win. But of course, it’s all in fun.

We have a Nintendo Switch that he plays, but we enjoy playing board and card games together.

Q: What is your daily routine after school?
A: When I can, I try to go to the gym. Usually, I am tired, so I go home, make dinner and I watch TV. I decompress and go to bed. It is not anything exciting.

Q: What is a common misconception students have of you?
A: I think students think in general that teachers live these perfect lives, and I think that if they can understand that teachers are also human and that we make mistakes and all troubles and emotions that you guys go through.

We have the same things –– family problems. We have drama with friends. We go through the same thing and same exact things as you, so I think that if students understand that we are humans, too, and live normal lives that is a misconception that can be fixed.

I have a really funny story; it was Black Friday, and I was shopping at the Brea Mall, and I ran into some students while shopping at Gap. I was with my sister-in-law trying on sweaters, and my students could not stop staring at me trying on a sweater, and I was like, “You guys. I am a person, I go to the mall, and I try on sweaters.”

Students are amazed that I don’t spend my life in the dance studio. It was a really funny moment; yes, I am a person, and I go to the mall, and I go shopping.

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