Interviewing Teachers About Their High School Experiences

We interviewed Mr. Bruns, who teaches history and is the athletic director; Coach Quiles, who coaches PE and golf; Ms. Phillips, who is an advisor and leadership teacher; Profe Jech, who is a Spanish teacher; and Ms. Chandless, who teaches science, about their advice and experiences in high school. As former students and current teachers, we think they have insight into what makes high school interesting and can offer beneficial advice. 

What high school did you go to and what year did you graduate?

  1. Mr. Bruns – Palisades High School (in Los Angeles), graduated in 1991
  2. Coach Q – I went to many high schools over the years, but I attended and graduated from Passaic Valley Regional High School in the lovely state of Jersey in 1986.
  3. Ms. Phillips – Cascade High School (Everett), 1997
  4. Profe Jech – Bellingham High School, class of 1988!
  5. Ms. Chandless – I went to Mercer Island High School and I graduated in 2012.

What was your favorite subject?

  1. Mr. Bruns – No surprise here, but my favorite subject (probably from 4th grade on) was any type of history
  2. Coach Q – I was really a fan of lunch first, but also enjoyed all my lab science classes. Hands-on is the way to go.
  3. Ms. Phillips – US History/Social Studies
  4. Profe Jech – Spanish
  5. Ms. Chandless – Science (Specifically chemistry and physics)

Did you know what you wanted to be in high school?

  1. Mr. Bruns – Yes, I feel fortunate that early on in my life I knew what I wanted to do for a career.  I was probably in 9th or 10th grade when I started seeing myself as a teacher and baseball coach in the future.  From that point on in high school and then through college I was focused 100% on that career path, and I’m excited that it worked out as I had hoped. I can’t imagine doing anything else. 
  2. Coach Q – Yes, a high school graduate.
  3. Ms. Phillips –   I thought I did! But I began college (UW) as a forestry major. That lasted about a quarter. I had to take Biology and Chemistry and realized I didn’t enjoy science classes. So I switched to being a history major since I had enjoyed it so much in high school.
  4. Profe Jech – Definitely not!
  5. Ms. Chandless – No, I did not know. 

What is your favorite memory from high school?

  1. Mr. Bruns – Two moments stand out … My clearest memory is walking across the stage to receive my diploma at graduation. I couldn’t wait for the next chapter of my life to begin.  The other memory would’ve been from my days as a pitcher on the baseball team when we defeated one of the top-ranked teams to advance in the playoffs. It’s a game that I can still relive exact moments from, even now 30 years later. 
  2. Coach Q – My fondest memories are mostly of football and baseball with teammates and friends. We had a lot of fun and still talk about it together. 
  3. Ms. Phillips – My favorite memories were associated with being on the swim team. We had so much fun at districts and state swim meets. I felt so bonded and connected with them because we worked out super hard,  competed with one another in the pool, and spent so much time together that we had inside jokes, funny moments, lots of conversations driving to and from practice, etc. Our coaches were amazing and taught us so much. I’m still friends with those women and most of us became teachers.
  4. Profe Jech – One of the cool things was how we decorated for homecoming, which was similar here, but it was a smaller school, so the halls were smaller and tighter, and we pretty much darkened out the entire hallway. Like, all the lights were gone! I remember one time there was like a Star Wars theme, and you felt like you were walking through the whole thing. Because the space was smaller, it was easier to create a whole feeling inside that space. So that was really cool, a fun part about homecoming!
  5. Ms. Chandless – Probably just being on the swim team, it’s just so fun to be a part of the team aspect, and it was just a great crew and super fun.

What advice would you give to your high school self and to high schoolers today?

  1. Mr. Bruns – Follow your passion, even if the path seems tough. Yet if you’re in a place where you haven’t figured out a plan for the future, don’t stress and don’t settle. It’s never too late when you’ve found the right one. 
  2. Coach Q – I would tell myself to watch for Anthony Pontone (linebacker) while I was running a drag route my senior year. He broke 4 of my ribs, but I made the catch. My advice for our students today…… out for linebackers and hold on to the ball no matter how hard you get hit.
  3. Ms. Phillips –  For my high school self: be kind and don’t worry about being cool. Kind people build caring friendships and are able to enjoy life way more than those who worry about changing who they are to be cool. To my high school students today: Caring relationships are what life is all about… so put your phone away, pay attention to the people in your life, be vulnerable and show your true self, try new things, try hard things, be intentional about your actions and try to leave every person better after interacting with you than when you found them.
  4. Ms. Chandless – To actually not procrastinate. Because that was advice that I always tried to give myself and I never followed it. It is something I still struggle with today, but procrastination makes everything harder. 
  5. Profe Jech – The energy that I want to give to young people today is you’ll get past this. Like, it will get better. I just think for a lot of people, I know for me, high school was actually really hard, and it was a really hard time in my life, with hard times with my family. Not really at school, school was kind of my escape from things that were hard in my life. Also, I think that one of the things that happen when you are that age is you start getting older and you have all these things that you wanna do, but you feel controlled by other forces, usually your parents, and you feel like you don’t have choices or you can’t do things, or you’re kind of trapped and stuck on this path. Anyway, that’s kind of the message I just want to give, is like, this will be over. You will get past this. And even another example of that would be the relationships that you have in your family. Like, you might have a relationship with someone that is just totally horrible, but what you don’t know when you’re in high school is the gift of time that can change some of those things. I’ve had relationships that completely turned around within my nuclear family. The person that I was really close to is not the person I’m close to now, and the reverse, the person I most didn’t get along with is really close to me now. So just having that patience that you have from that experience of knowing that time will change things– you will get through it, even though sometimes you feel like you can’t. You will.

Thank you to all of these teachers for their insights and time!