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The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

WELCOME BACK: Alumna finds way to alma mater as new English teacher

English+teacher+Jill+Lomheim+explains+a+creative+writing+assignment+to+her+fourth+period+English+1+class+Friday%2C+April+21%2C+in+Room+48+while+handing+out+papers+to+the+students+sitting+in+the+front+row.
Rebekah KIm
English teacher Jill Lomheim explains a creative writing assignment to her fourth period English 1 class Friday, April 21, in Room 48 while handing out papers to the students sitting in the front row.

Jill Lomheim was on the path toward law school upon her final year as an undergrad at California State University, Fullerton [CSUF], in 2000.

The Class of 1997 graduate would have never made an impact in the education field and in the classroom if it weren’t for her English professor

“At first, I was still planning on going to law school, but then my professor told me that I should consider pursuing English [as a teacher], which was a game-changer for me,” the English teacher said. “When I was in high school, I used to teach swimming at Janet Evans Swim Complex, and I knew I enjoyed it, so it was a weird moment where I realized I should just combine the two.” 

So she made the switch and enrolled in CSUF’s teaching credential program the following school year.

During the day, Jill Lomheim is a high school English teacher who takes care of freshman and sophomore English, as well as special education classes. However, at night, she lectures a group of college students at CSUF, where she works as an English education professor. 

PLOT TWIST

Having graduated from the Sunny Hills Class of 1997, Lomheim returned as a teacher and reunited with her former instructors and peers.

Not only is she an extremely knowledgeable English teacher, but she is also a Sunny Hills alumna who knows the history of Sunny Hills and is familiar with the campus as well as the teachers.

— principal Craig Weinreich

“Half of the colleagues I am working with now were my former teachers who have their passions and interests; they’re experts in their field,” she said. “I just want to have the impact that they left on me.”

After high school, Lomheim graduated from CSUF in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in English, in which she discovered new ways to view literature during this time.

“I realized in [my college senior year English professor’s] class that I had this uncanny ability to comprehend, write and communicate through literature in ways that I never thought I could do,” said Lomheim, who initially pursued a career as a lawyer but changed her mind senior year. “Overall, watching my professors teach in college made me want to have those conversations about life about literature with my students.”

Through the influences from her college professors and past extracurricular activity experiences such as instructing swimming lessons, it became clear to her that she loved English literature and teaching. Thus, she changed her path and joined the CSUF single-subject credential program in 2000 instead of going into law school.

“At first, I was still planning on going to law school, but then my professor told me that I should consider pursuing English [as a teacher], which was a game-changer for me,” the English teacher said. “When I was in high school, I used to teach swimming at Janet Evans Swim Complex, and I knew I enjoyed it, so it was a weird moment where I realized I should just combine the two.” 

TEACHING ORIGINS

After being mentored and completing the single-subject credential program, she started working at La Puente High School in 2002 as an English teacher. While teaching there, she also worked on her master’s degree in English from Azusa Pacific University, earning it in 2006.

In 2010, she stopped teaching to become a stay-at-home mom to raise her son, now 12 years old, and daughter, now 10 years old. While taking care of her children, she earned her doctorate degree in English from Claremont Graduate University in 2014 and remotely taught at Western High School from 2016-2018, until she received an offer at CSUF to teach the single subject credential program in person.

She then returned to Sunny Hills as a CSUF professor to observe and supervise her English education student teachers. In October 2022, she was informed about the potential opening of a teaching position by one of the faculty members.

“I talked about wanting to be a part of the high school curriculum again, and then I was given the opportunity to interview,” said Lomheim, who was hired in October. “I did not think Sunny Hills would take me because it is expensive to hire someone with a very advanced degree.”

Nevertheless, principal Craig Weinreich said her advanced degrees and past teaching experiences would offer more depth as an instructor.

“Not only is she an extremely knowledgeable English teacher, but she is also a Sunny Hills alumna who knows the history of Sunny Hills and is familiar with the campus as well as the teachers,” Weinreich said. “She [challenges] the students and [teaches] them the things they need to be successful in their life after high school because she knows what’s expected of them when they get to places like Cal State Fullerton.”

GOING THE EXTRA MILE

Even with her taking up a SH job, she has been able to continue teaching at CSUF. She instructs at Sunny Hills every school day from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with additional work at CSUF on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-6:30 p.m.

“I am grateful to have had modifications allowing me to work at both schools with a manageable schedule as I only lecture at [CSUF] twice a week,” she said. “But mainly, I am grateful to teach at Sunny Hills, as one of my main motivations and hopes is to be able to work in a space where I could see my kids every day since there’s nothing like being able to see your children blossom into who they’re going to be.”

Outside of the classroom, Lomheim said she enjoys participating in various outdoor activities such as snowboarding, camping and watching musicals with her children.

“Camping has always been a big part of my life, and now I am like a boy scout leader for my children,” she said. “I also enjoy spending time going to see art exhibits and musical shows.”

Freshman Kalani Lodrigueza, who is in Lomheim’s fourth period freshman English class, said she enjoys her dynamic teaching style that provides a comfortable learning environment and creates a smooth transition.

“She is very respectful, and I think her alumni status is what makes her so understanding,” said Lodrigueza, who joined her class in the second semester. “She gives us balanced work and also handles students pretty well because we have a bunch of crazy kids in her class.”

FLASHBACKS OF AN ALUMNA’S EXPERIENCE

Korean teacher Joe Ok, also a part of the SH Class of 1997, said Lomheim is a great addition to the school and will leave a positive impact.

“Starting from junior high to high school, she was always known as a very kind and considerate person,” Ok said. “ I think our school is very lucky to have her on staff, especially because she went to Sunny Hills as a student, and so she can relate well with the students.”

Having had insightful experiences and memories during her high school years from the current SH teachers, such as head aquatics coach Keith Nighswonger and English teacher Randy Oudega, Lomheim hopes her students can see her as equally inspirational.

“I have tremendous respect for the teachers in terms of the legacy of the years that they worked here,” she said. “They showed me what it meant to be dedicated, to have hard work and to be driven. I hope I can give what they provided me with back to my students.”

Oudega, Lomheim’s senior year English teacher, said she stood out as a student with the potential to become anything and was glad to see her again as a colleague, especially since they work in the same department.

“I believed she could do whatever she wanted to, and I’m just delighted that she chose the best thing, which is being an English teacher, as I remember her connecting with literature in a wonderfully personal way,” he said. “She brings wisdom and experience and deep knowledge of current issues and trends in education.”

With the remaining time left in the school year, the English teacher hopes to help students form their unique voices as writers and prepare them for a positive future in college.

“Since Sunny Hills now has a more diverse campus compared to when I was a student here, there seems to be a lot of meaningful conversations around social justice issues around these young people, whom I want to help as writing provides students with a voice,” Lomheim said. “I hope to modify that and explore that at the high school level, so I can set students up for tremendous success in college by making the transition smoother.”

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Aiden Park, Opinion Editor
Having been the arts & entertainment editor last year, senior Aiden Park is excited to continue his journey in The Accolade as he returns as the co-opinion editor. He hopes to make great memories and contributions to the staff. Outside of The Accolade, Park works part-time and runs in the cross country and track and field team.
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