New Professors Welcomed to Several Departments

Rikard Kohler, Staff Writer

The fall semester welcomed 11 new full-time professors to GCC faculty. The divisions receiving professors are English, mathematics, and visual arts, in addition to biology, chemistry, and health.

Newly hired English professors Reid Kerr and Gabriel Gomez both aim to incorporate creativity into their course curricula.

Gomez, an active playwright whose three-actor play “Scar Tissue” was named in the anthology of “Best American Short Plays,” said that he likes to bring his own experiences as a creative writer into the classroom. He hopes to boost students’ confidence and help them improve their writing.

“The best thing I can do is teach [the students] how to learn,” said Gomez.

Kerr, who teaches English 101 and 104, believes that GCC emphasizes creativity in their instructors. A music enthusiast, Kerr focuses his 101 classes on music and will have his students write an album analysis for their first paper. In his English 104 classes, he urges his students to observe the world around them more thoroughly. He asks the students to set apart and describe the differences they observe in order to help them become more descriptive writers. His goal is to have his students write papers that engage both writers and readers.

Alla Ghahramanyan, who taught mathematics at GCC part-time for 13 years, was hired as a full-time instructor for the fall semester. Having earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in applied mathematics in Armenia, she teaches calculus and fast- track math, which is a course that compresses Math 141 and 101 into one semester. To appeal to a generation that is enthralled by the world of social media, Ghahramanyan uses Facebook to connect with her students, creating groups where they can ask questions and get help for the course material.

Katherine Valenzuela, a San Francisco Giants fan, said that she is not “the stereotypical math teacher.” Hired to teach intermediate algebra, calculus, and statistics, Valenzuela wants to prepare students for life after school by teaching them how to become responsible college students who can take care of themselves.

“I try to make the class fun, even at the expense of my pride,” she said.

The visual and performing arts department welcomed professors Paul Sherman and Amy Oliver.

Oliver, who teaches Photography 101, 122, and 130, wants her students “to create images that are powerful and personally important.” While teaching at Ventura College, Oliver arranged to have her students’ work featured at a local cafe and hopes to offer her students at GCC the same opportunity.

Sherman was a part-time instructor at GCC for eight years, teaching music courses before he was hired full time. A professional oboe player, he has been teaching music since high school. He plans to take music from around the world and introduce them into his classrooms. During the weekends, he likes to ride motorcycles with other GCC professors.

No stranger to the campus, chemistry professor Ali Jabalameli also taught at GCC part time before he was hired as a full-time instructor. Applying his experiences as a longtime professor and researcher at Cal State L.A.’s nuclear magnetic research facility, Jabalameli hopes to help improve the chemistry department. He plans to do this by coming up with new experiments and manuals for his students.

Adam Roberts, who taught anatomy, physiology, and biology at UCLA and Moorpark College, joined the biology department as an Anatomy 120 instructor. He said that as long as students work hard in his class and put in effort, they will do fine. Roberts prefers teaching in a more episodic manner to divide up his lessons and help students grasp the concepts more thoroughly.

“Whenever possible, I approach the learning process with stories, not only with direct facts,” he said.

Marisa Zakaria, an avid Cleveland Browns fan, is a business instructor and entrepreneur who is teaching Business 101 and 106 this fall. Apart from establishing and running a production company called 4 Reelz, Zakaria has 15 years of experience in the corporate world, having worked for companies like Avery Dennison, a manufacturing company, and DTZ, a real estate company.

Zakaria wants to provide her students with the most creative and innovative learning environment while maintaining critical thinking as a central theme. With her background in entertainment, she plans to invite influential guests speakers she met throughout her career to speak in her classroom.

“I’ll just keep it fun and engaging for the students,” she said.

The college also hired a new coordinator for the Student Success Center. Maria Czech teaches non-credit courses in math and science to students who are trying to obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma at GCC. Students can do so by passing the HiSet or GED exams.

Before teaching at GCC, Czech worked at Cal State Northridge’s Elementary Teaching Department for 11 years. Her goal is to help her students “overcome their fear of studies” and become “lifelong learners,” as receiving the equivalent of a diploma will help them move on to higher education and find better jobs.

Jorge Mena, who worked as a Fitness center lab technician and physical education coach, began teaching full-time as a Health 101 instructor and is currently the head coach of GCC’s women’s soccer team

“I love being here,” Mena said. “I love making an impact in the students’ lives. This is my home.”