English teacher Alexis Sjol expects her students to try new things, open their minds to fresh ideas, collaborate and interact with their peers, and expand their insights as they work together. In Sjol’s classes at Ruben S. Ayala High School in Chino Hills, students pair up for peer editing assignments modeled after speed dating and execute crime-show-inspired investigations into the death of Julius Caesar. Sjol teaches AP, general education, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) and special education students. They love the challenge she provides, flocking to her classes every year because they know she will help them succeed. And they do: Sjol’s AP students pass their exams at a rate of 75% or higher each year, well above the national average. Her college prep classes, which include special education students, earn pass rates on the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) of 95% or higher; many students say they wouldn’t have passed without Sjol’s help.
The chair of Ayala’s English department, Sjol is known to work effectively with students at all levels of ability, confidence and social skills, helping them build language and communication skills they will use for the rest of their lives. She mentors new teachers and runs their orientation, has presented to staff about close reading strategies and integrating technology into the classroom, and has served as the 10th-grade team lead. As a member of the district’s Synced Solution team, Sjol worked to integrate the California Standards into the English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum and piloted the new lessons in her classroom; that curriculum, as well as pre- and post-assessments she created, are now used across the district.
Sjol served as the coordinator for the school’s Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) mid-cycle accreditation visit. She is a member of the California Activities Director Association (CADA) and has served as class advisor to the graduating classes of 2013 and 2017, overseeing activities with these students throughout their four years at Ayala. As an AVID teacher, Sjol helps at-risk students integrate and succeed in difficult classes; she is part of the AVID site team and supports other teachers as they work together to create an atmosphere conducive to the AVID requirements. She comes to her students’ sporting events and plays, attends Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings for her special education students, and exposes students to new cultures through trips with People to People International. Sjol has received the highest compliment a teacher can hope for: former students have come back to tell her that she inspired them to become English teachers as well.
Sjol earned a bachelor’s in English in 2008 from California State University Fullerton and a master’s in special education in 2014 from Point Loma Nazarene University.
"I hope my students take from my class the power of the written word. I want them to understand, whether they are the writer or they..." (read more)
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