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

KICK OFF: New social studies teacher starts school year with happiness wall project

Chloe Kang
New social studies teacher Christopher Collodel monitors his students taking an Advanced Placement [AP] United States History quiz while delivering a test paper to a student on Friday, Aug. 25, in Room 184.

This is the third 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.

New social science teacher Christopher Collodel wanted to start his first year at Sunny Hills with something different.

So on Aug. 14, Collodel told his Advanced Placement United States History [APUSH] and AP European History students to bring a picture that puts a smile on their faces.

By the second week of school, the instructor said he pinned students’ pictures of families, friends and pets to a cork board at the left corner of his classroom, creating a collage effect.

“[The students] can have a little area in the corner that helps them get invested in the classroom,” said Collodel, who got the idea to do this icebreaker with his students from a mentor teacher. “It is fun; especially early in the year, I can see what they are interested in.”

Junior Ryan Nixon from Collodel’s sixth period APUSH class said her contribution to the happiness wall ended up being a picture of a turtle eating a strawberry.

“I chose to put [that picture] up because I didn’t want to put something personal,” said Nixon. “I simply wanted something that can make me smile.”

Besides being an educator, Collodel said sports have dominated much of his time growing up in Orange County.

“I’ve played sports my whole life, but football was the only sport I continued to play in college after high school,” he said.

That high school was Servite in Anaheim, where the instructors said he also competed in various sports such as track and field, wrestling and lacrosse. In the meantime, he participated in student government, as an athletics commissioner 

After graduating in 2010, he attended Marquette University in Milwaukee.

A year later, however, Collodel said he transferred to Chapman University in Orange to play football there after learning the football program was not supported. He continued his studies at Chapman and graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in political science with a Masters of Arts in Teaching. 

“I got to try something new at Chapman and at that time, it was my favorite experience seeing I got two degrees in social science,” Collodel said.

Before coming to Sunny Hills, Collodel said he gained football coaching experience at five different high schools from 2015-2023, including being in charge of the offensive line at his alma mater and Santa Ana Valley High School, tight ends and fullback positions at El Modena High School in Orange, defensive line at Orange High School and linemen at El Dorado High School in Placentia.

By 2016, he also returned to coach the offensive line at Chapman.

“I started working on my credentials and went into the high school setting again after working at Chapman, and I really enjoyed the experience,” Collodel said.

It really shows that you should trust your work ethic and the process that comes with it.”

— social science teacher Christopher Collodel

The new social science teacher said he balanced football coaching while being a substitute teacher at Santa Ana Valley, an instructional aide at El Modena, a World History teacher at Orange and a social science teacher at Servite.

“A lot of us want that dream job, and I thought I had that at the other schools I worked at, but I realized I didn’t,” Collodel said. “It really shows that you should trust your work ethic and the process that comes with it.” 

Collodel said he decided to leave his most recent job at Servite after hearing about the positive environment in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District from close friends, particularly at Sunny Hills. 

“My friend’s dad worked in this district, and I heard good things about it career-wise, especially about this school,” he said.

Collodel said he is excited to learn more about the Lancer culture for the new school year.

“It was exciting seeing the campus, and I’m thrilled to be here and discover more about the school,” Collodel said. “I plan on being here for a long time because I’ve been moving around a lot.”

The instructor said he hopes to encourage his students to find their passions as well.

“I teach so that I can help [my students] become the best version of themselves,” Collodel said. “I’m here to support them on what makes them special and want my teaching to help them be them, not a version that I want them to be.” 

Nixon said his teaching techniques during his lectures are effective.

“I like the way he says a wrong statement during his lectures and let’s us correct him,” Nixon said. “I’ve never had a teacher use that method, and he pushes me to work harder by encouraging our studies.”

Junior Ian Patel, who plays running back and safety for the junior varsity and varsity football squads, said Collodel has already made an impact on the gridiron.

“I can really see his passion for coaching,” Patel said. “He seems like he has a lot of experience with higher level players and uses that kind of coaching on us by explaining strategies in depth.” 

Principal Craig Weinreich said Collodel will be a great addition to the SH staff.

“He was highly recommended by the previous schools he worked at,” Weinreich said. “He has great experience, and I hope he gets to know about the Lancer spirit.”

Collodel’s experience with coaching football also contributed to his decision to hire him, the principal said.

“He knew a couple of our coaches here at Sunny Hills,” he said. “And we are always looking for teachers that want to be involved in coaching and doing other activities outside the classroom.” 

And we are always looking for teachers that want to be involved in coaching and doing other activities outside the classroom.”

— principal Craig Weinreich

Collodel, who usually comes to school wearing a casual outfit like a T-shirt, said he aims to improve his teaching methods and hopes to demonstrate his commitment to the school.

“I’m continuously learning to get better,” he said. “I want to cement myself as a Sunny Hills member, and I’m going to do that by showing my care and consistency.”

Besides teaching, Collodel said he enjoys discovering new activities to do, such as cooking, gardening and most importantly, visiting his close family members and friends. 

“I’ve been really into cooking and gardening but hopefully after I settle, I’ll be able to add more hobbies to try,” he said.

As the school year just begins, the social studies teacher said he wants to remind his students that he is always supporting them, not just inside the classroom but outside as well. 

“I wish for [my] students to learn to appreciate the journey, rather than the destination,” Collodel said. 

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Claire Lee
Claire Lee, Staff Reporter
Junior Claire Lee enters The Accolade as a staff reporter after taking the Journalism 1 class during her sophomore year. Lee has written stories for the cub issue in the previous year, seeing it as a great opportunity to improve her writing skills and interact with the other staff members. Lee also participates in Link Crew, volunteer organizations outside of school and several clubs on campus. In her free time, she prefers to spend her time doing art and hanging out with friends.
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