Alyssa Mah: 'Hopeful for what the day can bring'
1st & 2nd Grade Teacher
Del Rey Woods Elementary
When you first enter Alyssa Mah’s classroom and hear her calm and soft-spoken voice, you know you have arrived in a 1st or 2nd grade classroom. She is so confident and reassuring. Her inspiration comes from her third grade teacher, Miss Hopkins, who she says inspired her to do her best.
“I loved her passion for teaching and the way she interacted with students,” Alyssa says.
She even went back during high school to volunteer in Miss Hopkins class. Today, Alyssa says her mom, who is also in public education, continues to influence her every day.
Alyssa grew up on the Central Coast between Salinas and Pacific Grove, and attended Pacific Grove schools before heading off to University of California Merced, and eventually California State University Monterey Bay to pursue her teaching credential. She did her student teaching at Olson Elementary before making Del Rey Woods Elementary home four years ago.
“I knew in some capacity that I wanted to work with kids,” she states. “Whether it was teaching or some other way.”
During college she volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA. As an Americorp member she engaged in SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words) tutoring in San Jose schools for a year.
“I fell in love with that,” she says. “Seeing the kids grow throughout the year was really impactful. From there I wanted to be a part of that and joined the credential program at CSUMB.”
Alyssa’s day starts early, between 7 and 7:30 a.m. and the moment she walks into her class.
“I feel the energy and am hopeful for what the day can bring,” she says.
She gets a sense of peace for what day can bring and immediately digs in with her resident teacher to talk through what will come up for the day. By 7:55 a.m. students begin to arrive and the day goes quickly. After school, she loves planning with her grade level peers.
“We are really close and our team is definitely what is getting us through the year,” Alyssa states. “We love planning and checking in with one another.”
She is passionate about Del Rey Woods, and when asked she lights up stating, “the sense of community, the people, the students…you really get to learn about the families and you’re just really invested in them and their growth. You get to see them and their progression over the years and have them come back and tell you how they’ve changed and where they are now. You just feel really involved and part of their lives.”
Alyssa also appreciates the energy, the people, and MPUSD’s vision for the future.
“The opportunities for growth and the connections that you make are really important to me and I just feel aligned to the vision and the values of the people that work here,” she says.
Her students’ curiosity for learning is what really gets Alyssa excited. She loves when they have those ‘ah ha’ moments when they see something up on the screen, or when a story comes up in the news and they want to talk about it, or they get excited to want to share something about their lives.
“They really feel like we are a part of that and they want to share those things with us,” Alyssa says. “And, we’re excited to learn about their lives as well. It’s making those connections that go beyond the classroom is really important.”
In her down time, Alyssa can be found snapping photographs of children, families, wedding engagements, and weddings.
“My favorite part about photography is meeting people and seeing their reactions for the first time they see their photos," she said.
Something that is always in the back of Alyssa’s mind is that students are only with us for 180 days. The relationships go beyond that and beyond the four walls.
“Seeing them come back or even seeing them grow from a distance is really, really cool,” she says.
Her work gives her a sense of hope and validates why she is here. The work she does is impactful. It’s meaningful.
“We may not see sometimes what we do on a daily basis, but over time you really get to see how your work really impacts students and how it will continue to in their future,” Alyssa notes.