Students will be sorry to see math teacher Alan Archambault leave at the beginning of second semester. The man in question is hitting the road for a teaching job down at a southern California college in an effort to achieve one of his life’s ambitions; to open an optometry clinic. Archambault reassures that he’ll do his best to check back with his students a few times every month.
“I’ll come back to make sure the transition [for my students] is smooth. I wouldn’t want to leave them hanging,” Archambault said, glancing at the dozen Calculus students in the corner of his classroom, who had stayed behind after school to help each other cram for upcoming finals.
“It’s been a future goal of my wife and mine to open an optometry clinic in the L.A. area, and this teaching job would free up some of my time to start working on that,” Archambault explained about his life ambition.
His wife is presently working towards a graduate degree in optometry here in the Bay Area, which means Archambault would continue to live at his current residence.
“I’m definitely not too excited about the commuting, and even less excited about the timing of all of this,” he bemoaned.
Although leaving halfway through the school year is inconvenient to both Archambault and his students, he explained that sometimes tough decisions must be made.
“I asked the college if there was any way to start in the fall, but they said, ‘No, out of 91 applicants, we picked you and we need you now.’”
Of the 91 applicants for the position at the college in Whittier, California, many have more experience than Archambault, so it’s no small feat for him to have landed the job. As he puts it, “It’s an amazing honor, because many of [the other applicants] have a higher degree in mathematics than me, but I don’t know. There must have been something they saw in me; what I regret is having to take that away from the kids here.”
Archambault has seven years of teaching under his belt, four of which have been here at Castro Valley High. His five periods this year, three Algebra 2 classes and two AP Calculus classes, will be divided between three other teachers. Math teachers Samantha Lamarre and Andrea Eldridge will split the Algebra 2 classes, and Glenn Mitchell will take on both Calculus classes.
Despite the additions to these teacher’s already busy schedules, Mitchell commented, “It’s going to be tough, but I’ll be getting some of my students from last year, and hopefully they’ll show me some grace. It really is a wonderful opportunity for [Archambault], with all the applicants vying for the job.”
Mitchell also stated that Archambault was the teacher who first suggested that AP Calculus BC, a second-year supplement class to regular AP Calculus, should be offered to incoming seniors who had already taken AP Calculus in their junior year.
“It’s his program, really,” said Mitchell, “So of course he wants to see the program and his students to succeed.”
As enthralling as teaching higher education, i.e. Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus (high school students everywhere cringe at the unfamiliar terms), will be, Archambault said he’ll miss the interactions with his students.
He’s taught at a college before, and clarified, “Although college kids aren’t much more mature than high school students, high school kids are more dependent on the relationship with the teacher. I’ve noticed that if teachers don’t try to establish a relationship with their students, they don’t learn as well. Kids at the college think it’s weird, like, ‘I’m here for my education, not to get to know you.’”
Despite it all, he offered a bit of advice, “As you get older, some opportunities will come knocking, and you have to answer them.”
“Mr. Archambault, your friendship is more valuable than any lesson you taught us,” said senior Michael Wang.
Archambault passes along his sentiments by saying, “I’m going to miss you guys.”