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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

Chatting with Mr. Wall

International+Baccalaureate+coordinator+and+Conservatory+of+Fine+Arts+director+Brian+Wall+speaks+at+the+2007+Open+House.
The Accolade file photo
International Baccalaureate coordinator and Conservatory of Fine Arts director Brian Wall speaks at the 2007 Open House.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because The Accolade had already written an article in its Feb. 3 issue about art teacher Brian Wall’s decision to retire at the end of this school year, we decided to put together a Q & A instead of a feature story like we did with the other two retiring faculty members.

Question 1: Please share your journey of how you ended up coming to teach at Sunny Hills.

A: I lived in South America when I was in my 20s, and when I returned, I just needed a job. The first job I found was working as an aide in a second grade classroom, and I really enjoyed it, but I was in college and studying to get a degree in fine art. 

I ended up transitioning into graphic design, graduated, got a job in graphic design and realized I hated graphic design. 

I was looking for something that could connect that experience that I had in the classroom with art, so that led me back to school to get a credential.

Question 2: How did the hiring process go for you when you decided to find a teaching position on this campus?

A: As I continued my graphic design business that I had started just before my student teaching experience in Long Beach, the supervisor I had at Cal State Long Beach out of the blue called me and told me she had this job opportunity in a school named Sunny Hills. A couple of weeks pass, and she calls back asking if I called the school. So I asked my wife, and I ended up calling them. They asked me if I could come now for an interview.

I came out here, and apparently the teacher that was teaching here at the time or in the position that they were offering had left the school, so they were [using] subs. After the interview, the people asked me if I could come back the following Monday to interview with the principal. I returned on Monday to interview him, and he asked if I can start tomorrow. And that was 1991.  

Question 3: What classes do you currently instruct, and how long have you taught them for?

A: I currently teach special studies in drawing and painting, which is like the year two class; IB Higher Level [HL] 1, which is the year one [course] of higher level IB art; communication design, which is a graphic design class; IB HL 2, which is the second year where you actually test for IB art, and I also teach two periods of drawing and painting. I’m also the IB coordinator.

Question 4: Having spent most of your time instructing here at Sunny Hills, what do you enjoy most about your teaching experience, and what do you value most about the SH culture?

A: I would say number one, I like this community, and the students that I’ve had all through the years are just amazing along with my colleagues. I really do appreciate how between our administrations all throughout the years, particularly our Conservatory of Fine Arts [COFA] department – they aren’t just like colleagues; they are friends.

Question 5: In a past infographic we included in our Feb. 3 Issue, we mentioned that you founded the COFA department in 2010. What propelled you to do so?

A: How [COFA] came about was the principal and assistant principal [of that year] wanted to start an art program here that involved all of the arts, and that coincided with the retirements of several other teachers like the dance, theater and choir teachers. So we basically had all these new teachers coming in who were willing to help do the work to build such a program, which got me excited. That’s kind of how it began.

Question 6: At one point in your tenure, you decided to take over the International Baccalaureate [IB] program after then-science teacher Jeff Nelson decided to resign from coordinating this program. What was that like, and what does this position mean to you?

A: I was at first a little unsure about what my qualifications were [to be the IB coordinator], and so I thought I’d just do it for a year to help out; then they would find the right person. But as the years went on, I fell in love with the philosophy of IB and the kids that I work with. These kids have been the most amazing experience, and it’s cool that I get to have really interesting people in my life year after year. 

Question 7: What do you plan on doing after this school year comes to a close?

A: In the place I have out in the desert, there’s a big art community, and once a year, they do an open studio tour where you could sell your art. I’ve toured it for the past 10 years, and I go around looking at the art and meeting the artists. But now my plan is to produce enough work so that I can sell my art there.

Question 8: What will you remember most about your time here?

A: What I’ll take with me is my warm feeling for this community. … I’ll always remember positive memories of what the culture is like at this campus and the people that I work with.

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Jiwoo Han, Opinion Editor
Senior Jiwoo Han returns to The Accolade this school year as one of the opinion editors. Han served as one of the sports editors in the 2022-2023 school year and hopes to integrate his knowledge of working with a co-editor into this year’s staff as well. As a fourth-year member of the journalism program, Han received many accolades for his sports writing and spent the majority of his junior year writing sports recaps. Han clinched fifth place in sports writing for the Orange County Journalism Education Association competition, a journalism competition among students in the Orange County region, and he hopes to continue receiving merits for his writing this upcoming year as well. Besides working for The Accolade, Han leads the Hallelujah Club and does community service work with the CAL GIVE organization, as well as with his church members for a homeless shelter. Han also enjoys cooking, hanging out with his friends and listening to/playing music. With greater talent and composition, Han hopes to bring a positive influence and light to the campus.
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