Fresh faces join Mustang family: Amanda Fujii

We all come from different backgrounds.

It’s a somewhat hackneyed phrase, and it’s the kind of thing you would see on a motivational poster. Yet, Specialized Academic Instructor (SAI) teacher Amanda Fujii comes from a background that she can call her own.

Before her tenure in Walnut High School, Fujii was an SAI teacher at Suzanne Middle School. As an SAI teacher, she worked with students who needed extra assistance than the standard in a classroom setting. In her new role as an SAI teacher in WHS, Fujii continues to work with SAI students by providing them with tailored help.

“I got my credential for elementary [teaching] years ago and I couldn’t find a job, so I was subbing a lot and I ended up working with a bunch of SAI students. I really enjoyed it so I went back to school and got my [SAI] credential. [I enjoyed working with them because] they’re really hard working and try to better themselves,” Fujii said.

Fujii discovered her interest in education during kindergarten and it has been in action ever since. However, after finding her first job as a teacher, the 2008 recession stifled her original plans.

“I [wanted] to be a teacher since I [saw] my kindergarten teacher and that’s something I really wanted to do my entire life, so I went to school for it. I thought I was going to be a kindergarten teacher, but I ended up liking the fourth and fifth graders more. And then the recession hits,” Fujii said. “When I was doing my student teaching for the first time, some of [my co-workers] had been there for a long time, but there were some teachers who were just hired recently who either lost their job or were not rehired.”

After recovering from the recession, Fujii spent time abroad in South Korea as a kindergarten teacher. While studying the language, Fujii was able to make new experiences in the private school she was employed at and learn about the culture.

“Working with students [who] didn’t understand English at all is great for the climate that we have here with second language students especially in Southern California. It was a great experience practicing teaching styles and discipline and working on those strategies to help students understand a language they had no reference for,” Fujii said. “It also showed the dynamics of how people viewed different things, like the level of stress and what that was measured by or what you could and couldn’t talk about.”

At Walnut High School, Fujii still sees the value in supporting others and wishes to make that impact be known as an SAI teacher.

“I really like how everyone [in the district] is so supportive of each other. We rally around each other if we need [it],” Fujii said. “It’s important to have compassion for anyone and everyone. We’re all different in some way. None of us are cookie cutter molds [and] none of us are perfect. As a society, we need to show compassion to everyone regardless of any disability or difference that they may have.”

By Ethan Park, Copy Editor-in-chief
Photo courtesy of Amanda Fujii