New freshman physical science teacher at Camas High School Joe Gonzalez enjoys spending his free time diving. Gonzalez picked up the sport in college when he took it as part of a marine biology class. Diving was a great way for him to stay in shape as well as a fun way to exercise and to learn about a whole different world not seen by many. He has not done much of the sport lately since he has moved up to Washington. Gonzalez explained how his son also picked up an interest in diving and it was a great way to spend time with each other.
The list of knowledgeable sports doesn’t stop at diving for Gonzalez. Throughout his teaching career, he has coached soccer, wrestling, track and football. He began his teaching career at Montebello High School in East LA and later moved to teach at Fontana High School and AB Miller High School in Fontana, California. Gonzalez has always had a passion for coaching wrestling, and of course teaching. While teaching at all three high schools Gonzalez became the head wrestling coach for each one.
He currently is not coaching at CHS, but explained how he loves helping students by coaching them. It is important to him because it helps the students feel better about coming to school. Gonzalez said that sports can become an avenue to open doors for students to get a higher education. It was inspiring for him to help students develop these types of sport skills.
Gonzalez has a great passion for teaching students physical science. Even in his limited time at CHS, he has reached the students here, who have enjoyed his freshman physical science class.
CHS freshman Evy Rudy said, “I like his humor and how kind he is.”
Another CHS freshman Kyleigh Wilder added that she likes how he “gives clear instructions for assignments and is really flexible about late work.”
He said that he loves connecting with the students in his class and he likes giving them examples of some of his experiences during his teaching and coaching years. This allows them to ask questions and allows his students to better know him and his teaching style.
“Sometimes we’ll take a break from physical science, and just talk about life in general, developing students to become productive members of society because I think that a lot of times, it really helps students find their path in life. And that’s really what I like about being a teacher,” he said.
As shown through Gonzalez’s hobbies and life skills, much of this was introduced to him through culture and all the places he has lived and taught over the years. From a young age, Gonzalez spent a few grade school years attending the Mexico Military Academy.
He said, “The schooling was based around military-type structure, and had lots of discipline and structure in-school instruction with lots of book work.”
Much of Gonzalez’s childhood was spent in Mexico and a lot of his family is from there. At the age of eight his family moved to America where he attended Little Lake Elementary in the city of Santa Fe Springs, California.
When asked about his online experience, Gonzalez brought a new perspective that is focused on the success of his students more than anything. He has seen the cons of online learning since he began his teaching at CHS. For example, he explained that online learning poses many challenges like a loss of one-on-one interaction that allows him to understand when his students need help. Without being in person, Gonzalez fears that he is not able to get to know his students and be connected with them as he has previously been able to. He also explained that there is a loss of the social aspect of school that students need with friends and teachers. Gonzalez feels that the switch to online learning has impacted students greatly as well. However, he is convinced that online learning is not as bad as it is sometimes made out to be.
In Gonzalez’s mind, a pro is that online learning is a different approach and avenue of learning rather than a nuisance. Along with this, he finds remote learning as a way for the school to obtain other resources that have not been utilized before.
As a teacher, Gonzalez loves his job in the science department and appreciates all the support he has received from the science department and administration and staff. Although he is new, he has already adapted to his new surroundings and is trying his best to make lasting connections with students, despite the roadblock of online learning. What makes a good day at school for Gonzalez is making Physical Science enjoyable and Challenging to students, and leaving school for the day knowing that he made somebody else’s day a little better.
“What really makes it a good day for me,” Gonzalez said, “is if I see students say, ‘you know Mr. Gonzalez, I really enjoy your class.’ That is a positive thing for me to hear, and it lets me know I did a good job as a teacher.”
Although online learning is different for everyone, it is substantially harder for the teachers to overcome. Gonzalez doesn’t dislike online teaching, but he just does not feel that same connection with his students that he gets from the live and in-person classroom experience.
“It’s not that I’m knocking online learning, because I’ve really learned some new resources, like Kahoot or Quizlet. Without online learning, I wouldn’t necessarily know how to use those. But, it would be good to have online and also actual, physical school,”
He is excited to go back to school, even with a hybrid schedule, and teach in an actual classroom environment because of the opportunity to meet his students in a new way that online classes cannot provide.
CHS Associate Principal, Owen Sanford, was responsible for hiring Mr. Gonzalez and reports that he is excited for Gonzalez to work at the high school.
When asked what about Gonzalez stood out to him, Sanford said, “His experience as a science teacher in a variety of different school settings.”
Camasonian journalists Blake Harris, Nora Melcher, Bianca Flores, and Christian Lenard all contributed to this article.