Mrs. Savala-Lee has been selected as teacher of the year, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with her to make conversation and discuss some questions I had for her.
How long have you been teaching at Glenn and in general?
“I started teaching in Norwalk-La Mirada in 1987 at Edmondson, I taught third grade for three years, then fifth grade for two years. And when Waite opened up as a middle school, I taught Eighth grade for three years. And in 1997, I came to Glenn to do a program called Puente, it was to help students get into college, it was like AVID but a little different ya know. So, I’ve been here since ‘97.”
Did you plan on becoming an English teacher or a teacher at all?
“No. I didn’t plan that, my major was liberal studies and while I was in liberal studies classes, I heard other people talk about what they were gonna do, and they talked about being a historian, a librarian, a lawyer, or a teacher. And none of those sounded good to me except a teacher, and I went and got a teacher’s aide job and I liked being in the classroom. And I got a substitute teaching job, and that’s when I realized that this is what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna be a teacher.”
What did you originally want to do?
“I think I just wanted to be a wife and a mom, an educated wife/mom, maybe go to a community college, take some art classes, ceramic, and just have a good/proper family. (Jokingly) And in the end I have no children, things don’t turn out the way you plan, ok.”
What are your alumni?
“Cal State Fullerton and Cyprus College”
“Throw parties, yes, I’ll have several. Small groups ya know I’ll have a special one with my teacher friends, one with my family, just friends from the past that don’t fit either group, but ya know I’m close to them. So ya I will celebrate. But as far as I’m going to tour the world or bucket list, I don’t have any, I am very content with staying at home, taking care of the house, making it pretty aesthetically beautiful.
I have my two dogs Violet and Olive (pictured, left), I wanna take care of them. I still have my mom, I can drive her to Mervyn’s/Kohls if she can’t, but yeah if someone invited me to Italy I would go. I like being athletic, workout, running, whatever comes my way I’ll make use of it or not.”
“I wanna play the guitar, I bought one eight years ago when my husband passed away because I didn’t know what to do that summer. I thought I’d learn how to play but instead it’s been a piece of art hanging on my wall, no not here, at my house, and I look at it, I have music, it sometimes I pluck on it to have fun, I wanna do gardening in my yard, running, working, might even learn to bake some bread.”
How was online teaching for you? Would you do it again?
“I would only do it again if I had to, it was … terrible, I never knew if my students were with me, I couldn’t really see my students doing the work and I like to be watching them. I couldn’t do my spelling tests and that’s a big deal to me that kids know how to spell. I couldn’t teach cursive and that’s important to me that students know how to handwrite, I couldn’t be how I really wanted to be as a teacher, and I don’t think students really gained much from it and that bothers me too. So only if I have too.”
Are you hopeful for the future?
“For my own life I am very healthy and feel really good on how I lived my life up to this point, that I feel going into retirement, I still feel very young, even though my age says I’m old. But I think that’s what I’d recommend to everybody to take care of their health while they’re young and that way when the time comes you can be free from work and you’ll be able to enjoy whatever lifestyle you want. But as far as education goes, I don’t wanna say this to sound terrible, but it’s not what it used to be. I would love to see be 1987 again, I’m not crazy about the laptops and computers and all that, I think they’re good for one reason and they’re entertaining and fun, but in another way it’s made kids antisocial and too dependent on immediacy, I mean I dunno, I’m old fashioned.”
What do you think of all the dad joke posters around the school, do you know who does them?
“I love them, I think they’re great, I like clean humor, I think it’s more creative than dirty humor, and no I don’t know.”