School alumni teach future generations on campus

For multiple teachers on campus, this school has served as both a launching point and a destination. It has provided them with an education, a career, and even a place to raise their families.

“Newbury Park is very much a community that I am entrenched in … it is very much our town,” Christy Hodson, English teacher, said.

As a NPHS student graduating in 1979, Hodson never expected to return to the school to teach, or to even have a career in teaching at all.

“I saw Newbury Park as being a very small, closed, stifling town, and I think academia was pretty far from, in terms of what would have been my pursuit, or my own interest professionally,” she said.

That all began to change when Hodson found her love of education at Moorpark Community College. She soon transferred to Cal State Northridge and had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant during her time as a graduate student, and thus her career began.

History teacher and alumni Joe Calaba, who graduated in 1998, had a similar mindset as Hodson, and did not think he would end up as a teacher back at NPHS. Originally pursuing a career in a law firm, he soon realized he simply was not enjoying himself.

He found that he prefered working as a substitute teacher, and got a full time position working at Westlake High School for a year. After a chance meeting with one of his former NPHS English teachers, she helped him get a job back on campus after some unpleasant experiences at Westlake.

“So she contacted Steve Johnson, the department chair of history, and through that connection I was able to get an interview,” Calaba said.

After about a decade away from Newbury Park, Hodson decided she wanted to return to her old district again and, like Calaba, she began teaching at Westlake High School before eventually returning to NPHS.

For Eduardo Flores, Spanish teacher, who graduated in 2001, the experience was slightly different. He attended California Lutheran University and discovered an interest in teaching after tutoring students. Once he decided to become a teacher, he knew that he wanted to return to NPHS.

“I interviewed exclusively to Newbury Park,” Flores said. “It’s the only place I applied to. It’s the only place I wanted to work.”

The main reason for Flores returning to NPHS was to give back to the community and make sure students have a voice. “I got to work with the immigrant population and I pretty much was the liaison between administration and the parents, and a lot of the things (immigrant students) have now are because I started advocating for them,” he said.

Flores also had the opportunity to work alongside many of his former teachers.

“It was great because a lot of what I do was influenced by them,” Flores said. “It’s been nice getting to know them as people instead of as my teachers that I might have been afraid of.”

Hodson stressed that NPHS’s culture seems very much improved compared to her days as a student.

“My students (today) seem so much worldlier to me than the kids of Newbury Park High school seemed in the 70s. (They) seem so much more tolerant, so much more socially aware, and I just feel a greater harmony on campus,” she said.

“I think (students today) are more well rounded,” Flores agreed. “We definitely weren’t as academic as it is now because the IB program was just beginning back then.”

Calaba also added that the good environment has been at NPHS throughout the years.

“In some circles, our school, NPHS, stands for Nice People High School. I think that’s really true, and I think that being nice, being friendly, being courteous is infectious … it is imparted on me,” he said.

Hodson explained that NPHS holds tremendous sentimental value for her because it is not only where she learned and works, but where her children were educated as well.

“(I am) so happy, so content that this is where I am at,” Hodson said.

But if Hodson’s teenage former self were to see that she ended up back at her high school, she explained what her old opinion would have been.

“No way. No way. Are you kidding? Are you joking? I don’t think so.”

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