Jo Sutton has traveled across the country to make it to Castro Valley High School. She has been teaching at CVHS for 14 years, and has seen a big turnaround in attitudes of CVHS students and teachers towards gay rights.
Sutton is the beginning studio art teacher and AP art history teacher, but she started at CVHS as a math teacher.
“Math is the language of the universe,” said Sutton.
However, Sutton also had a strong art background, so she decided to try teaching art instead. She had already taught one year of art in both private and public schools. She found that art was right for her and taught a variety of different art classes.
This year, she is bringing the animation class back after several students persuaded her to do it.
“We have never had enough people sign up for the class, but this year we will start it again,” said Sutton.
She has also been working on her new style of art, combining gold leaf and contemporary art.
“The stuff shines like you can’t believe,” said Sutton. You can see more of her art on the CVHS homepage under the staff directory.
Sutton was raised in Iowa, but when she got older she decided that she did not want to live there. She left her home with her car and $500, and set off for California.
“I had one dream when I was coming here,” said Sutton. “I wanted to be an art teacher, and I can’t believe I made it.”
While she stayed with friends in California she cooked food and performed other odd jobs.
“My first teaching jobs were at Sylvan Learning Center,” said Sutton.
When Sutton finally made it to CVHS, she met her wife, Melissa Kindelspire, a science teacher at CVHS. They first met during Days of Diversity, when Sutton was having a drum circle in her room. Kindelspire brought both drums and students to help out Sutton. After that, Sutton and Kindelspire began a relationship, but could not get married because of the gay marriage ban in California. But in 2008 the ban was lifted.
“I was looking on the computer, and I got an email that told me that we could marry,” said Sutton. She told her sixth period class to stay put, and then walked into Kindelspire’s room and proposed.
“I am really happy how CVHS has changed,” said Sutton. She described her first year at CVHS as tough.
“People used to be really mean to me, and shout at me from cars and call me names, but now the people have changed.”