There are some new faces at the front of the classroom as the new school year commences at Woodlake High School. Meet the newest teachers on campus:
Marina Ambriz was raised in Tulare and is a graduate of Tulare Union High School. For the past eight years, she has been living in Visalia while she earned a B.A. degree in liberal arts from Fresno Pacific University.
“I believe in advocating for kids who can’t speak for themselves and letting them know they are capable of being a valuable part of our community,” Ambriz said.
Ambriz has substituted for the Visalia, Dinuba, and Woodlake school districts and has tutored in math, science, and history. The job at Woodlake High is her first full-time teaching position.
This first-year teacher already knows about 95 percent of her students at Woodlake because of her days as a substitute. When she started out in the education profession, Ambriz said, she aspired to teach math, her academic passion.
But as a substitute, she became aware of students with special needs and that altered her career path.
“Someday I hope to earn a master’s degree in math or education,” Ambriz said. “But right now, this position at Woodlake High is where I want to be and plan to stay.”
Katie Goodin grew up in Visalia and still resides there. She earned a B.A. in English composition from North Park University in Chicago.
Goodin is a first-year teacher. She already has a certificate as an education specialist.
“I came to Woodlake because I love working in, and with the students who live in, small communities,” she said.
Katie’s educational philosophy is that anyone can succeed if they really want to. It doesn’t matter where someone comes from.
“My hope is that even as a new teacher, I will encourage students to pursue learning as a fun and important path for them to take wherever they go,” she said.
Angel was born and raised in Porterville and attended Sacramento State where he earned a degree in computer science.
“This is my first year teaching,” he explained. “I have been a substitute in Woodlake, Lindsay, and Porterville school districts and a tutor in the San Juan School District [Sacramento County] and at Sacramento City College.”
Hernandez said he seeks to find the proper method to teach students individually.
“Some students learn kinetically, by doing and acting,” he said. “Some students learn visually or audibly. I want to present real-life scenarios that they will find engaging.”
James Lynch lives in Fresno. At Fresno State he was a history major where he utilized his research and writing skills to learn something about all the disciplines of social sciences: economics, political science, geography, demography, psychology, sociology, anthropology, law and, of course, history.
“I earned my preliminary credential as a student teacher working for a year in Fresno and substituting in Fresno Unified School District for five months,” he said. “I have no paid experience as a full-time teacher up to this point. I’ve only worked as a substitute.”
Lynch said his goal as an educator is to help kids build their own values and develop critical thinking skills.
“I want my students to make coherent political decisions without judging others,” Lynch said.
Susan Moran grew up in Bakersfield and majored in ag studies at Fresno State. Susan has plenty of experiencing teaching agriculture with her longest tenure in the San Joaquin Valley.
“I taught at Hanford High School for 20 years, then moved to Arizona where I worked at a charter high school that focused on agriculture,” she said. “My husband’s company transferred us back to California and now we reside in Three Rivers.”
Moran said she was attracted to Woodlake High School because of the agriculture program and its proximity to her Three Rivers home. She has a Woodlake High connection too; her husband’s father graduated from Woodlake High School in 1954.
“I want our kids to appreciate and understand their environment and apply that understanding to their homes and the local area,” Susan said. “This will include growing plants, landscape design, ornamental horticulture and much more. I want my students to cultivate an appreciation for nature and all its beauty.”
For Don Thornburg, taking a position as Woodlake High School’s ag mechanics teacher is like coming home. Tiger Pride runs in the family.
Thornburg graduated from Woodlake in 1995; his high school sweetheart who is now his wife, Renee, also graduated from Woodlake High in ’95.
Thornbug’s sister, Kristi, is a 1990 grad. And his oldest daughter, Courtney, graduated from Woodlake High in 2010.
Only his younger daughter, Cassidy graduated elsewhere. She followed Dad to Visalia Technical Early College High School where she graduated in 2016. Thornburg has taught for the last five years at VTEC and believes the hands-on experience is the best way to teach ag mechanics.
After Woodlake, Don attended College of the Sequoias. At Fresno State, he was an animal science major.
“I want to make sure the kids get a hands-on experience in the shop,” Thornburg said. “These students need to be well-rounded and ready for careers when they are done with their education.”