Exploring the previous jobs of Mrs. Howell before her teaching at American began   

Neha Zope

Staff Writer

     Most teachers nowadays tend to go down the conditional pathway of earning a teaching degree in college and taking on jobs that involve teaching in their early years. However for Mrs. Howell, her journey to teaching at American was a long one filled with different careers and stages.

     Initially, her career went down a non-traditional pathway, a job she took on while waiting to find a teaching job. 

     “It’s a computer company coordinator, starting from taking an order all the way to shipping out. Basically, you make sure all the orders come in and at the end, the product actually got sent. I only did one month though, because I was waiting for the job. I was in Silicon Valley, so there were tons of opportunities there to do something when you wait,” she explains. 

     She goes onto diving into the details and aspects of how her job at this computer company operated.

     “Every morning, you turn on the computer and you look at the list of the orders that come in, and you want to make sure at the end, all the orders that came in actually got sent out. In between, you would have to work with other people, starting from salespeople, because they are the ones who communicate with the customers … so you have to work with first of all salespeople, people on the assembly line, if you need to, you need to work with the customers as well.”

     While it may have been a temporary job for her, it ended up helping her realize what she truly enjoyed to do: teaching.

     She talks about how her job at the computer company was a trial to open up her eyes more. “Since I live in the Bay Area, the teaching job does not pay up as much as if I would enter a different field that’s computer related, then you would naturally have your opportunity to cross over. I did that with a little bit of the mindset, just to see what that’s like … I learned about myself more and confirmed what I wanted to do.”

     In addition to this computer job, Mrs. Howell also had an interesting background in regards to teaching itself. Before teaching math, her credentials were in Physics. 

     “I started with science, then I shifted over to math because they needed math. I said ‘oh Physics, I have a lot of math credits.’ Math is easy for people in a Physics background because they are closely related … I actually have multiple credentials. I love teaching math the most … that’s why statistics fits me really well because it’s kind of in-between. I enjoy teaching algebra too, precalculus for years, but I really enjoy statistics just because of my background because I see how the numbers actually play out in the world” she adds.

     Before teaching at American itself, she also volunteered and worked at Forest Park after quitting her job at the computer company.

     “I went to Forest Park. I worked until I decided to go back home to visit my family one more time before my job started, because I got accepted to Mission San Jose. From Mission San Jose, because I was a foreigner, I had a gap in between and they wanted to continue my contract, but because of my visa status, I had to re-enter which created a gap in between, so I kind of got bounced within the district, from Mission to Kennedy, and then I landed in American.”

     For her, the gap year she took in-between her years of teaching was another crucial point in learning where and why she wanted to teach.

     “[In the gap year], I did soul-searching. Visit friends, connect with all the people that you cannot possibly be connected with. It was kind of like a pivoting point to decide if I go back to the U.S., then my future will be on this land. If I decide to stay [in Taiwan], then I will start to search for a job in Taiwan. It’s more of which land I wanted to go, and it’s also which land wanted me first too,” she describes.

     Mrs. Howell’s love for teaching grew as she did more exploring and learning. Her love for children also came from another teaching experience she had.

     “I discovered that I was born to be a teacher naturally about a year after my bachelor. After I graduated from my bachelor’s degree, my high school friend said ‘hey here is an after-school scientist program, it’s a hands-on oriented little kids elementary fun time. Do you want to come? It’s very creative and very different from a school setting.’ I liked kids so I just went there and I thought ‘every day is so good.’” 

     Her admiration for her kids never fails to stop as she dives into how her interest in teaching kids continues on in her daily life as a teacher at American. 

     “This year it saddened me greatly just because I cannot be with kids. Being around students, it just became part of my life and it brings joy to me.”

     Her teaching career was a long and intriguing journey to arrive at where she is now, but she is happy as ever interacting and teaching the kids she has at American.

     “At the end of every year, when I took some pictures, actually for me [the] first year I started [taking pictures was] just to have fun, and then I looked at those pictures after summer started, and I always feel so warm in my heart,” Mrs. Howell said. “I just look at them and it makes me feel really good … that’s how much fun I have with teaching.”

Mrs. Howell dressing up for holiday hat spirit day over zoom with her students.

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