By Tammy Pham
Mr. Thomas, a beloved teacher here at KSJC, has been a part of this campus since the very beginning. This week, I had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Thomas and learn a little bit more about KSJC’s one and only music teacher.
Mr. Thomas, as the only music teacher at KSJC, has multiple roles on our campus. He is not only the department director, but his classes include Concert Band, Jazz Band, Concert Choice and a famous vocal ensemble named Fermata Nowhere. His favorite part of being at KIPP so far has been making music with his students. He also enjoys being part of a larger team and family. As a teacher, Mr. Thomas also takes the advantage of a teacher’s schedule and enjoys his summers off, specifically to spend time in the sun!
When asked what his greatest accomplishment was, Mr. Thomas reminisced about being able to create KSJC from the roots and becoming one of the founding teachers for KSJC and specifically the founding music teacher.
By Quincy Qao
Recently, I spoke with Mr. McCormack about life as a KIPP teacher. Here's what I learned:
Q: Why did you want to become a teacher?
A: I led a retreat in high school where I got to work with a group of underclassmen. I really enjoyed the experience, and started to think about becoming a teacher. After I graduated from USD, I starting coaching soccer in my spare time while I was working for the Arizona Coyotes. I loved the educational experience of being able to work with high school age students, went back to school to get my Masters in Teaching from USC, and here I am. Finally, I believe that everyone has a right to a quality education, and I wanted to do something that helped towards that goal.
Q: What made you choose KIPP as a school to teach at?
A: Well, I actually didn't have a choice. After I finished my Masters, I joined Teach for America and when they send you for interviews, it is the rule there that you have to accept the first job offer you get, and KIPP was my first offer. That being said, the reason I love coming back to work here every year is that I think the students are amazing people, and I love working with the staff that we have. The community here is very close, and I don't think you can get the experience we have here in many other schools.
Q: What were some struggles you faced when you began your teaching career?
By Elizabeth Ngo
Nicholas LaRocque has been working at KSJC for 6 years. If it hadn’t been for his wife, Karen, he wouldn’t have been here. Karen decided to go to a Ph.D. program at Stanford and LaRocque went along, not knowing what would be in store. They both had been working and living in Boston, Massachusetts, so if Karen hadn’t made that decision, there was no way that LaRocque would’ve been where he is today, working at KSJC. Before KSJC, LaRocque was a little reluctant to keep on teaching due to some past experiences. However, being at KSJC changed his perspective and he’s forever grateful that he got this opportunity. From only having three grade levels to having a tinier campus, LaRocque has been through a lot of changes with the school. Through these changes, he reflects on how it had affected him. I had the chance to interview him to talk about his whole experience. Here are his answers:
How many years have you been teaching at KSJC?
This is my sixth year at KSJC and my tenth year in education overall.
Why did you decide to teach at KSJC?
My wife Karen and I moved out here in the summer of 2010 so that she could enter a Ph.D. program at Stanford. Prior to that, we'd been living in Boston and I'd been working at a charter school in Chelsea, MA. I was born and raised on the East Coast, so there's no chance I would have ended up here if not for Karen's grad school. I'm really grateful that it worked out the way it did, because I love working at KSJC and I love the weather out here.