5 Questions with Ms. Pena

Sara Cabrera, Writer/ Copy Editor

After the recent passing of Mr. Child, newcomer Ms. Pena is permanently taking over his five English classes who have had to adjust to 3 different substitutes during the 1st semester.


Q1. Where did you attend college?

A1. After I graduated from Downey in ’04, I went to Long Beach City for 2 years, and then from there I transferred to UCLA and did my 2 years there. Then [I] graduated with my Bachelors in American Literature.


Q2. Were you certain you wanted to pursue a career in teaching while going into college?

A2. No, it was either going to be law or teaching. When I was doing my credential program, I took a year off to go to Cerritos and I received a paralegal certificate, and then I got an internship as a community legal aid working with paralegals there and with the attorneys. I also, at the same time, was working in Downtown Long Beach at an attorney’s office as a secretary and I kind of got to know the type of work they do and, once I found out what it was, I immediately was like ‘Nope, this is not for me.’


Q3. Why didn’t you think a career in law would be right for you?

A3.It was just very repetitive and always the same paperwork. I liked talking to the clients and interviewing them; I just didn’t like sitting there and doing paper work. That was the worst for me. Teaching was always my first option, but I was kind of thinking that maybe I should explore something else, but once I did I was like ‘No. I am definitely going to teach.’ And even though I still have paper work, it’s not the same. Legal paperwork is very stressful and even though there is a lot of this stuff, I can handle student work opposed to legal work.


Q4. How did you end up working at Downey High?

A4.I applied to over 40 different districts and schools. This is one of the schools that I applied to and I just came to the interview and I didn’t know of anything that had happened until after I was hired.


Q5. Were you nervous about taking over for Mr. Child?

A5. I kind of was nervous because me being here is not really like replacing him. I wanted people to understand that it’s more like this is my job now. Yes, I’m going to be taking over these classes, but I’m not here to replace Mr. Child or anything. I just wanted to come in here with my own strategies and ideas and just develop from there. Right now, since it is the last 4 or 5 months of school, we just need to get the students through that, so next year then I’ll be able to make this more my own.