New teachers jump into Redwood with fresh perspectives

Christine Watridge

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Every year, Redwood is home to new teachers navigating their surroundings and trying to get to know their coworkers and students. Four of this year’s new teachers describe their past experiences, hopes for this school year, and what they want students to take away from their classes.

Alison Castro

Before teaching Spanish, Alson Castro lived in Cuba for

Before teaching Spanish, Alison Castro lived in Cuba and Brazil and taught ESL in Oakland.

Spanish teacher Alison Castro grew up in Southern California and moved to the Bay Area to study at University of California, Berkeley. She has traveled to Central and South America, Africa and Europe, and lived in both Cuba and Brazil. Before teaching Spanish, Castro was an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Oakland. Castro also loves African, Cuban and Brazilian music and dance.

One thing Castro really appreciates about Redwood is the philosophy of the language department. Instead of using the standard “textbook method,” teachers interact with students through the use of comprehensible input, meaning that what the teacher shows and says is straightforward for students to understand.

Castro hopes to encourage her students to accept that they will make mistakes, and that problem-solving is an important skill to acquire in order to speak a different language.

“If they can’t try and try again, then they’re not going to speak a language,” Castro said. “If you’re afraid to say something because you think it’s going to come out wrong, then you’re never going to learn.”

Emily Doran

Starting her first year as a chemistry teacher, Emily Doran is orginally from Oregon and fell in love with teaching while she was a tutor in college.

Starting her first year as a chemistry teacher, Emily Doran is originally from Oregon and fell in love with teaching while she was a tutor in college.

Chemistry teacher Emily Doran was excited to move to Marin because it reminds her of where she grew up in Oregon. While tutoring students in science during college at University of Idaho, Doran realized that she loved the subject and wanted to teach it.

Her favorite part about science is the hands-on labs, which provide answers to problems.

“Being able to ask questions and then being able to go and do something and use that evidence to draw conclusions and form explanations is really fun,” Doran said.

When she arrived at Redwood, Doran was appreciative of the kind welcome by the faculty and students, and was pleasantly surprised by the students’ politeness.

“The students say ‘thank you!’ Everybody does it here, it’s so nice!” said Doran.

Doran enjoyed meeting her new students, and encourages them to explore and appreciate science. Her advice to students is to always be curious, ask questions and try to figure things out.

English teacher Danielle Kestenbaum hopes that her students become critical thinkers and don't take anything at face value.

English teacher Danielle Kestenbaum hopes that her students become critical thinkers and don’t take anything at face value.

Danielle Kestenbaum

Danielle Kestenbaum always knew she wanted to work with kids, but originally thought about pursuing clinical pediatric psychology. She realized she wanted to teach when she found herself jealous of her roommate’s job as a teacher. Kestenbaum grew up in L.A. and majored in psychology at University of California, Berkeley.

As an English teacher, Kestenbaum is currently teaching one of her favorite books, “East of Eden.” She loves working at the base of Mt. Tam, learning more about Redwood and her students.

Kestenbaum’s teaching principle is to encourage students to always be skeptical of what people tell them.

“I want [students] to be questioning, critical thinkers. I don’t want them accepting things at face value,” Kestenbaum said. “I really want students to feel involved in their education, not that I’m telling them to think just one way, act one way or believe one way.”

Taber Watson

Taber Watson is a Redwood alumnus who, after student-teaching at Tam High School, returned to his former school to teach social studies.

“[Redwood] is very familiar. I feel at home already,” Watson said. “I have an idea of where everything is and who all the people are. A lot of my former teachers are still here, so I already have some relationships bui

Social studies teacher Taber Watson is a Redwood alumnus who played baseball during high school and college.

Social studies teacher Taber Watson is a Redwood alumnus who played baseball during high school and college.

lt in.”

Watson knew he wanted to teach history since he was 12 years old.

“I was in a class about the Civil War; things were exploding, people were dying and I remember being bored out of my mind and I thought ‘I could do better than this!’ I never changed that thought,” Watson said.

Watson’s favorite part of teaching is watching the interactions and discussions of the students. He also wants to instill in his students the idea that history is meaningful.

“Appreciate history, have fun with history, know it’s more than just dates and facts and something you just spit out on a test one time. It’s actually got meaning and purpose, and it affects your life in more ways than you know,” Watson said.