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

STRIKING HOME: Increased student demand brings second ever environmental science teacher to Sunny Hills

New+science+teacher+Westley+Fairall+explains+Wednesday%2C+Aug.+23%2C+to+his+fourth+period+Advanced+Placement+Environmental+Science+class+in+Room+104+how+Mono+Lake+serves+as+an+example+of+a+terminal+body+of+water.+Fairall+is+one+of+two+new+science+teachers+this+school+year.
Asaph Li
New science teacher Westley Fairall explains Wednesday, Aug. 23, to his fourth period Advanced Placement Environmental Science class in Room 104 how Mono Lake serves as an example of a terminal body of water. Fairall is one of two new science teachers this school year.

This is the fifth 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 science teacher Westley Fairall grew up surrounded by children under his mother’s at-home daycare in Fillmore, California.

“I was always around kids my age or younger than me when I was growing up,” Fairall said. “I feel like I developed that patience to deal with children.”

His mother hoped to raise income for the family while still spending time with Fairall and his younger sister, resorting to the daycare program. Though he was not homeschooled by his mother, Fairall spent his childhood watching and helping his mother supervise children from 2-12 years old.

The experience he gained from those early childhood years helped him to take on another challenge – interacting with kids junior high school students as a volunteer at The Preuss School, a charter middle and high school located on the University of California, San Diego’s [UCSD] campus where he was attending the school.

“I volunteered there, working with eighth-grade students’ math, and it was fun,” Fairall said. “It was sort of rewarding, working with those students and helping them understand the math that was being taught and getting to know them on a more individual basis.”

After graduating from UCSD in 2016, the volunteer tutor enrolled in the teaching credential program at California Lutheran University, completing it in 2018, which eventually led him to get hired here instructing three periods of chemistry and two of Advanced Placement [AP] Environmental Science

Principal Craig Weinreich said he was willing to bring Fairall to the SH community because of his welcoming personality.

“[Fairall’s] a relatively new teacher who’s got a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Weinreich said. “He’s willing to step in anywhere, and he’s a very friendly, nice person who the kids can relate to well.”

The new teacher says he looks forward to getting closer with the other staff members and growing familiar with the expectations in the science department.

My goal is to immerse myself into the culture and try to do my job as best as I can.”

— science teacher Westley Fairall

“My goal is to immerse myself into the culture and try to do my job as best as I can,” he said. “There’s always a lot to learn when you’re the new kid on the block.”

BEGINNING THE FIRST PITCH

Fairall said he wasn’t immediately drawn to the sciences when he attended Fillmore High School in Southern California 15 years ago. Instead, he remained actively involved in the baseball team and school band.

“[Baseball] was the one sport that I really enjoyed,” said Fairall, who played as the outfielder on his school’s varsity team. “My mom pushed me to try everything, so I played basketball for a year and volleyball for a bit, but baseball was the one that stuck.”

The young athlete started the sport when he was 4 years old and played until his senior year. 

“It’s a fun team game, and it’s also one that’s not so much focused on a high success rate,” Fairall said. “It’s a lot of picking yourself up, picking your teammates up and trying to do the best so you can improve next time.”

He decided to halt his athletic career after entering high school to focus more on his studies.

“I wanted to focus on academics in college and to learn to experience new things,” Fairall said. “That was just a chapter in high school, and I feel like I got what I wanted to.”

Aside from baseball, Fairall fostered his musical interests as a saxophone player in his school band.

“I attended a pretty small school, so I was able to do a lot of things,” said Fairall, who started playing in sixth grade. “The saxophone is one of those band instruments that you get to see in other types of music as well, so I enjoyed that.”

Taking chemistry in his sophomore year sparked Fairall’s curiosity in the field.

That was just a chapter in high school, and I feel like I got what I wanted to.”

— Fairall

“I always enjoyed how it’s like a combination of math and physical science, but you also get to see it in action,” the teacher said. “You can see lots of pretty fun experiments, and there’s a lot of calculation-based logic behind it that you don’t see as much in life science.”

TRANSITIONING INTO A SCIENTIST

Fairall left his passions in baseball and band behind as he attended UCSD with a major in communications and a minor in organic chemistry in 2012. 

“I was going toward the pharmacy route, and there’s a lot of organic chemistry that goes into it,” he said. “I didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do out of high school, but I knew that I wanted to have a clear path to follow for my own mentality.”

After graduating from UCSD in 2016, the instructor obtained his teaching credential and master’s degree in education at California Lutheran University.

“Obtaining my teaching credential was sort of the next route after deciding pharmacy wasn’t my calling in life,” he said. “I tested it out by subbing for a bit and volunteering and that was rewarding.”

Fairall took his first steps toward becoming a teacher at Carpinteria High School located in Santa Barbara County in 2018, instructing three periods of chemistry and two of Honors Chemistry.

During the end of the 2018-2019 school year, Fairall said one of his Honors Chemistry students approached him to ask whether he had any plans to teach higher-level AP Chemistry. At that time, AP Biology remained the only AP science course available at the campus. 

“As a first-year teacher, you’re trying really hard to develop the curriculum, figure out what you’re going to teach and how you’re going to teach it to make sure they learn but also make sure it’s engaging,” said Fairall, who was the only chemistry teacher at Carpinteria. “A lot of my honors kids wanted to take AP toward the end of the year, and I told them that’s outside of my control.”

Fairall said the school spent the following year discussing the addition of the course and finally added the curriculum in the 2020-2021 school year. 

“Having the students be that interested in the content and take another year of one of the more difficult AP courses was really validating as a teacher,” he said.

As the automatic option to teach the class, Fairall said he felt some pressure taking on the challenge to teach an AP class.

“It was a big undertaking, and there’s a lot to learn as well, not necessarily content wise, but also knowing how to deliver the information,” he said. “It was definitely a process, and at the end, we got some pretty good results.”

After leaving his mark as the first AP chemistry teacher at Carpinteria, Fairall transferred to Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach teaching five periods of chemistry to accommodate for his wife’s work in Costa Mesa in 2021. The following year, he added three periods of biology to his schedule and reduced to only two of chemistry.

“I had nothing but positive experiences at both of my two schools,” Fairall said. “I’m excited to be here, but I miss my coworkers and the students from those schools as well.”

During the first week at his new school, the then-baseball head coach hired Fairall to assist the frosh/soph team after hearing about his former passions in the sport.

“It’s definitely a big commitment for the kids and for coaching as well,” he said. “But it’s been a lot of fun.”

JOURNEY TO SUNNY HILLS

Fairall said he began looking for other teaching opportunities since Ocean View High School hired him under a temporary two-year contract. When he came across a job listing under the Fullerton Joint Union High School District through the online education job site EDJOIN.org., Fairall said he researched all six schools in the region since the offer did not specify one school.

“I was just part of the district, and [the interviewers] made it clear to me that they view the district as a whole and [looked for someone who could] fit in well anywhere,” he said. “That was an admirable approach to the process because teachers and admin move around where there’s a need, and you’re an employee of the district rather than a single school.”

Junior Farah Alramahi, who is in Fairall’s fourth period AP Environmental Science class, said she enjoys the frequent labs he incorporates in the lectures because they allow her to understand the lectures in a real-life situation.

“I’m looking forward to doing more labs and experiments in his class,” Alramahi said. “My favorite part of science classes was always being able to visually learn new topics and being able to do it with my friends.”

The new teacher continues to foster his inner athlete as the SH frosh-soph baseball team. Fairall said head coach Christopher Vogt reached out to him before the start of this school year after hearing about his prior experience coaching during his initial job interview.

Fairall said he looks forward to immersing himself into the SH culture and getting to know his students. He said he only encountered positive experiences during the weeks with staff before the beginning of school and feels excited to meet the rest of the community.

“This is my situation now for the third, and hopefully final time, but I’m looking forward to it,” Fairall said. 

When he’s not spending time with his students or athletes, Fairall loves spending time outside in the wildlife with his wife.

“I like being outside as much as I can,” he said. “I live in Huntington Beach, and Bolsa Chica is right there, so I love walking through the Bolsa Chica conservatory and seeing all the different birds that are migrating through.”

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Susie Kim, Web Editor-in-Chief
Entering her final year on staff, senior Susie Kim looks forward to continuing The Accolade's online legacy as the web editor-in-chief. Kim plans on focusing on the frequency of online posting and incorporating more multimedia into stories across each section. After concluding her junior year as the news editor, Kim feels confident in reporting timely news both on and off campus. She is excited to work with this year's staff to continue producing The Accolade's print products. Outside of spending time in the journalism room, Kim likes competing with her Science Olympiad teammates and listening to music.
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