The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

BUILDING A NEW LEGACY: Ex-bodybuilder now Regional Occupational Program teacher at Sunny Hills strives to aid students in kinesthetic learning

Asaph Li
Regional Occupational Program [ROP] Medical Careers and ROP Sports Medicine and Therapy teacher Paul Linares points out parts of the human skull to his sixth period class in Room 24.

This is the first in a series of profiles on new, full-time instructors hired at Sunny Hills during or before the fall semester of the 2023-2024 school year. Expect more profiles to be posted soon.

It was his sophomore year of high school when Paul Linares bought his first Muscle and Fitness magazine with professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger on the front cover.

Linares, a new Regional Occupational Program [ROP] teacher, said he developed an interest in muscle development in sophomore year of high school during football season.

“I always wondered what it would be like to walk around with all of that muscle, so I started to take weightlifting more seriously,” said Linares, who continued to buy magazines for workout tips. “Two years after I graduated from high school, I was able to get a 24 Hour Fitness membership and was able to workout regularly [with] the same equipment I saw in my magazines that Arnold (my idol) and other bodybuilders would use.”

Ten years after he graduated high school, he went to Venice Beach and stumbled across a bodybuilding competition.

“I said, ‘I could do that’ and ‘I look better than that guy,’” the new teacher said. “This is what sparked my interest [in bodybuilding] and I set a goal to compete someday.”

I said, ‘I could do that’ and ‘I look better than that guy.’”

— Regional Occupational Program teacher Paul Linares

While participating in competitions like National Physique Committee [NPC], one of the largest amateur organizations that does not have strict drug testing, and World Natural BodyBuilding from 2014-2017, he was able to place first, second, third and fourth.

“My proudest finish was placing fourth in NPC [because it] means I was able to keep up with others that may have been using PEDs [performing enhancing drugs],” Linares said.

Though he was not able to reach his ultimate goal of becoming a professional and possibly getting into a muscle magazine, he managed to get his college thesis project about performing a repetition at a traditional pace compared to a slow pace published in the same magazine he first bought.

Linares spent the last 13 years as an educator and he is now a ROP Medical Careers and ROP Sports Medicine teacher at Sunny Hills.

He teaches medical careers during second through fourth periods and ends his day teaching sports medicine for fifth and sixth periods, replacing former ROP Medical Careers teacher, Lauren Wukadinovich, who is now a full-time athletic trainer. In his classes, he tackles certain parts of the body and teaches how to manually assess an injury.


Linares, who graduated from Saddleback High School in Santa Ana in 1994, said he discovered his interest in human anatomy and physiology when he sustained an injury during his junior year.

“I pulled a hamstring my junior year in track,” the ROP teacher said. “But, when I went to the athletic trainer, who, for some reason didn’t really help me out, that’s what kind of sparked my interest [and I realized that] I need to [figure out myself] how to assess and rehabilitate my leg.”

He graduated from Orange Coast College in 2000, majoring in general education and continued his education at California State University, Long Beach [CSULB], graduating in 2003 and received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a focus in kinesiotherapy. 

After graduating CSULB, he worked at a Veterans Affairs Hospital in Long Beach and gained firsthand experience working in the field of kinesiotherapy.

At this hospital, Linares assisted the orthopedists and the other therapists by helping out with weights and exercise for the veterans, understood how slow the therapy process is and how patient he needed to be with his patients’ progress.

In 2003, he moved to San Francisco and worked at a physical therapy clinic called Action Therapeutics for two years.

Through working at this clinic, however, Linares realized that he didn’t want to pursue the path of becoming a physical therapist.

“I realized that there is a lot of repetition in physical therapy,” he said. “I needed something a little bit different, so I think that’s when I became a personal trainer after I came back down to Southern California.”

I needed something a little bit different, so I think that’s when I became a personal trainer after I came back down to Southern California.”

— Linares

Between the years 2005-2010, Linares worked at a gym called Equinox as a personal trainer and was inspired to start his own fitness business.

“Starting a business taught me that it is actually possible, as I never thought that I could,” the ex-businessman said. “As small as it is, it’s something I can call my own and it was definitely an accomplishment of something I didn’t really think I wanted to or could do.”

Linares decided to start this company after realizing that the compensation for his work at the gym was not very high. However, he knew that this business wasn’t going to be forever.

“I knew it was temporary, so I knew I needed to eventually venture off into something else,” he said. “That’s when I went back to school [for my master’s].”

Several years later, Linares graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with a master’s in kinesiology and a focus in exercise physiology in 2014.


While Linares ran his business, he said he wanted to find a different way of earning income and made a decision he thought he would never make.

He went on Craigslist, a website that provides local advertisements and forums for jobs and more, applied for a “Health and Fitness” position at a technical school and got the job..

“It’s so funny because I never thought I would teach — ever,” the ROP teacher said.

This kicked off his teaching career at Careers Network Institute in Santa Ana, where he instructed health and fitness from 2011-2015 for students ages 18 and older.

“Classroom management was a struggle,” Linares said. “I think [through] trial and error, I figured out what worked and what didn’t, like seating order and cell phones; ultimately, whatever rules you are going to use, you have to start from the beginning and be consistent.”

Through working at the Santa Ana school, Linares learned that teaching is a work in progress.

“I learned that I need to study and I don’t know everything,” he said. “There are certain times where a student has a question and I might not have an answer, so I don’t like to make anything up because I don’t have all the answers.”

After teaching human anatomy and biomechanics at Stanbridge University in Irvine from 2015-2016, Linares taught medical careers and sports medicine at Whittier High School in Whittier from 2016-2017 and at El Modena High School in Orange from 2017-2023.


Following his position at El Modena, Linares moved to Fullerton in June 2023 and applied for his position at Sunny Hills through an online education job site,

He wanted to look for a different high school because he moved to this area recently, said Linares, whose wife graduated from Sunny Hills in 2000.

“She was a very academic student and mentioned [that] I would be challenged more as a teacher; not to mention the overall structure of the school, which included staff support and student involvement,” he said.

As he is not a regular subject teacher, Linares was hired by the North Orange County ROP, but principal Craig Weinreich is delighted to have him on campus.

“He came very highly recommended and seems to really enjoy what he’s doing, and we’re looking forward to helping him do that,” Weinreich said.

Senior Anthony Cano decided to take the ROP Medical Careers class with Linares after his counselor recommended it to him.

“He’s energetic when it comes to the subject he’s teaching, and it seems like he enjoys [doing it],” said Cano, who is in Linares’ second period class. “I am looking forward to learning all I can medically because it leads to a path I want to follow, which is forensic science.”

Similar to Cano, senior Nevin McCann also decided to take the class in hopes of pursuing a career related to sports like a physical or athletic trainer.

“So far, it’s been pretty interesting,” McCann said. “I think he definitely knows what he’s talking about when he teaches us and everything he does is easy to understand.”

When he isn’t in the classroom, Linares says that he enjoys weightlifting and DJing.

“I also enjoy DJing because I used to do that when I was in my senior year of high school,” he said. “I do that on occasion when it’s not too loud for my [two girls, one two-month-old and almost two-year-old].”

Linares said he looks forward to this school year because he has noticed how focused and well-mannered SH students are.

“The students are really respectful and they’re engaged,” he said. “The students here are very academic and they follow rules, so classroom management seems to be pretty easy.”

During his time at Sunny Hills, Linares said he hopes to continue academically challenging his students and keep them engaged.

“I want to present something that’s challenging for the students that they could take away from this class,” he said. “It seems like they’re at a higher level, so I’m not going to shy away from presenting some college level material.”

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Nicole Park, Copy Editor
After taking the Journalism 1 class, sophomore Nicole Park is elated to spend her first year on staff as one of the copy editors. During her time as a cub reporter, Park earned a Best of SNO award for her story exploring the topic of accessories on students’ backpacks. Park looks forward to covering a wide range of stories to further hone her writing and explore the depths of journalism. When she is not working on a story assignment, Park spends her time playing on the girls volleyball team and is a member of school clubs like American Red Cross. In her free time, she enjoys watching dramas, eating good food and going out with friends.
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