Although this year is nowhere near normal, Northwest still has a large amount of new faculty and staff. Curtis Hisayasu (he/him) is a new teacher in the Humanities Department, teaching 11th and 12th grade, as well as acting as an advisor.
Curtis specializes in working with students who are entering college. In his former job, at The Robinson Center for Young scholars at the University of Washington, he worked with students coming to UW as high schoolers. He says, “Because of this, I have a lot of experience with preparing students for college as well as working in a small community.” Curtis continued with “It’s kind of weird that I have all of this experience working with middle school aged and high school aged students, but I have never worked in a middle school or high school.” So while this job is new to Curtis, it is very similar to his previous one. Coming from a small program, Curtis was attracted to the intimate atmosphere that our school provides.
One of the first things Curtis noticed was the focus on social justice that Northwest incorporates into their teaching. “I really love and respect the emphasis on social justice that is very specifically baked into the mission statement of The Northwest School.” He encourages his students to think critically about environmental justice, social justice, questions of race, diversity, gender, sexuality, inclusion, and affinity groups.
Outside of school, Curtis loves movies, comic books, animation, and video games. During COVID, he has been seeing friends in his backyard as well as spending time with his family. “It’s a real stress relief activity for me so I try to cook dinner 4-5 times for my family per week” He cooks almost every night for his wife, Humanities teacher Samantha Simon, and one-year-old daughter! His favorite thing to cook is Vietnamese food.
In the time of online school, Curtis understands the difficulty for some of his students. Curtis’ biggest piece of advice is to be an independent student. It’s much easier for students and teachers to talk when we’re in school, but online it takes much more effort on both ends. To help alleviate this pressure, he advises students to take ownership: “You have to make an effort to show up,” he says. “And make an effort to show that you showed up.” The Northwest school is fortunate to have Curtis as a new member of our community, and we should listen and act on his advice.