New Staff Joins Cougar Nation

September 21, 2015

7 new staff members have joined the Cougar family in 2015. The 4 new classroom teachers include Spanish instructor Maria Cadenas, English instructor Erin Cody, social studies instructor Matt Sweeney, and Mandarin instructor Ma-Chen Tu. Additionally, Shelly Green has joined as the cafeteria assistant manager, Sarah Morgan as the librarian, and Erin Pope as one of the associate principals.

New Staff: Maria Cadenas

Maria Cadenas, who now teaches Spanish 2 and Spanish 3, is a longtime friend of fellow Spanish teacher Concha Martinez. Though she is new to teaching at Campolindo, she is a veteran world language instructor who has been collaborating with Martinez for years on developing curriculum for Spanish instruction.

Cadenas said the transition to a new campus has been “fine.”

“I like this staff. I like the students. Very friendly staff, great students,” Cadenas said of her new professional home.

However, “Getting up in the morning has been really tough,” Cadenas admitted.

At San Leandro High, where Cadenas taught prior to coming to Campolindo, the instructional day starts at 8:15am.

Cardenas noted the campus garden, with its chicken coupe, as a unique feature of Campolindo that she particularly enjoys. “They have chickens at this school,” Cadenas said. “But I like chickens.”

New Staff: Erin Cody

After teaching sophomore English and AP English Literature at Freedom High School in Oakley for 6 years, Erin Cody now teaches English 1 and 2 at Campolindo.

“I wasn’t looking for a job at all. I was totally teaching exactly what I wanted at my old school, and I really liked teaching there. But if I was going to move, this was the only place I wanted to move to,” Cody said.

Cody was excited when she heard about an open position, but she didn’t know about it until one day before the deadline. She added, “I was scrambling around like a madwoman, trying to get letters of recommendation and update my resume. It was crazy, and it happened at the end of my old school year, so I was in the middle of prepping for finals, things like that.”

Cody described her new colleagues and students as “amazing.”

“Any difficulties that I’ve had have been strictly from my own learning curve,” Cody explained.

Cody also had to acclimate to a new bell schedule: Freedom High School was on a block schedule, while Campolindo has a traditional 7 period day. “I’ve had to modify all of my lesson plans. ‘Cause you would think, ‘Oh, I’ll just cut it in half and it’ll work just fine,'” Cody said. “And it never works that way. So it’s been a complete learning curve.”

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I feel like this is my first year a little bit. But the staff has been really helpful, teachers have been great and helpful,” Cody said. “But it’s really neat that I feel like I’m like the freshmen on campus, when we don’t really know anything and we’re just kind of helping each other figure out our path here at Campo. So that’s neat to have this experience with this class at Campo in particular.”

New Staff: Matt Sweeney

New Gov/Econ and World History teacher Matt Sweeney debuts on campus after a stint at Ukiah High School.

Sweeney said he “needed a change” and chose Campolindo because he “knew it was a good school.”

“It’s a really good school, there are a lot of high expectations, and the kids are great. The staff is awesome. It’s a lot of fun being here,” Sweeney said.

“Ukiah High School and Campolindo are two super different schools, so that’s been an adjustment,” Sweeney said. “The student population is different, socioeconomic status is very different. I came from a school where there’s about 70% free and reduced lunch. And there’s about 1% here. I think there are way more opportunities here that are awarded to students than in Ukiah. It’s like going from an impoverished, rural community to a somewhat affluent, suburban area.”

New Staff: Ma-Chen Tu

Tu is an Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) veteran who has taught Mandarin for a decade at Acalanes. This year, she became a traveling teacher, teaching a combined Mandarin 1 and 2 class during first period at Campolindo before driving across town during 2nd period, and then teaching 5 Mandarin classes at Acalanes for the rest of the school day.

Both Tu and Shih-Min Holland, the other Campolindo Mandarin teacher, are traveling teachers in the district. Tu said, “We need to be very organized, because we need to travel, then teach two different schools. We need a lot of time for preparation, and then we only have one period for prep. Usually teachers get two, but one period we need to travel.”

As Tu has only been on campus for a few weeks for only one period a day, she has not had much time to familiarize herself with the staff or the school. She has, however, felt good about her start. “Students seem happy. I think I need more time to discover,” Tu said.

Green Returns to Cafeteria Full Time


Returning to Campolindo full-time after a 13 year stint as a cafeteria assistant at Acalanes, Green is the new cafeteria assistant manager.

Green worked on campus briefly in 2013, when she held a temporary position.

Green said her transition has been good. “It took me about a week and a half to get used to it (the new kitchen). Different commute – a little further,” she said.

Green hasn’t had too many surprises yet. “I knew what I was getting myself into. [I was] just a little nervous at first,” she admitted.

Among her new duties include filling in for the manager when she’s not here, “so that means coming at 5 a.m.”

Green noted that there is a difference between Acalanes and Campolindo. “But the students seem very nice. I got a very warm welcome to campus, so that was nice,” she explained.

New Staff: Sarah Morgan

New Campolindo librarian Sarah Morgan previously held the same position at Merced High School, but admits there are vast differences between her new campus and the one she left behind.

About the students and staff, Morgan explained, “I think to compare, the students here are more academically-minded. So most of you are college-bound, interested in getting your work done, not just to completion, but to perfection, or so that you understand the content, so you ask really deep questions. And then the staff is very professional, very serious about their craft, and then very serious about their subject.”

“Not to say that the other teachers I worked with weren’t,” Morgan explained, “but everyone’s very serious about their work here, the students and the staff.”

According to Morgan, the library itself is different from the one at her previous site. “The space is big. This is a big library, so just the amount of floor that I cover every day is a little more than I’m accustomed to,” Morgan said. “We have study hall in here, the career center, the study areas, library areas, it’s just bigger and more to manage.”

Morgan and her daughter were interested in moving to the Bay Area, so when she saw the Campolindo librarian position posted, she applied. “I didn’t really know a lot about Campo. So it was just [that] I got lucky because this is a really nice school,” she said.

Morgan said the transition has been “very easy because everyone’s so friendly.”

“The students ask, ‘Do you need me to help you find the office?’ The staff has been very friendly and helpful and encouraging, and they’ve been very nice to my daughter, who is new this year too. They’ve been very kind to her. So it’s been a pretty easy transition to the school. Now, moving from one town to another, that was the hard part,” Morgan said.

New Staff: Erin Pope

Erin Pope, who previously taught social studies and environmental leadership at Terra Linda High School in Marin, starts her first full-time administrative position at Campolindo as an associate principal.

At Terra Linda, Pope said she “sort of had one foot in the classroom and one foot in the administrative realm for the last several years, doing several things like ASB/leadership, department chair, mentored new teachers. I was a site and then district lead for Common Core implementation.”

Pope applied for the AP position for several reasons: “It’s a really good school and the district is very forward-thinking, so I thought it’d be a good fit for me.”

“I feel very welcomed. There’s a very positive vibe on campus that’s really friendly,” Pope explained.

However, Pope was surprised that there is no “comprehensive” recycling program on campus, coming from a school that had several different recycling bins for paper, cans, and bottles. “We’re trying to change that,” Pope said.

She hopes to help the school more broadly, as well. “I just hope that I do a good job and that I’m a benefit to the campus in some way,” Pope said.

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