Teacher spotlight: DR.O

Emily Ramos

 Dr.Okinaka has been teaching for 38 years. He began teaching right after college where he majored in Geophysics. First, he taught at Don Lugo high school, then he began teaching at the university level at Riverside and Cal Poly. Dr. O explains why he chose to come back to high school level teaching, “I realized I preferred high school level teaching because students are more interactive and ask more questions.” He emphasized how high school students seem more interested and excited about the material that they are learning. He enjoys having a class that asks questions and is always willing to go further into the topics in class. Even though he chose to focus on high school teaching he still had part-time jobs at colleges. 


Dr.O shares that one of the most challenging things as a teacher has been trying to understand the different ways that students learn. Each student may learn things differently and at varying speeds so having to adjust and make sure that concepts are easy to understand was something important for him. “My favorite thing about being a teacher is working with students and having lots of vacation time.” Dr. O explains how he believes that dedicating time to the students and having clubs is important to make them more involved. “That’s what makes high school interesting, if teachers don’t do that it takes away from the high school experience.” It is important for students to be more involved in clubs and get to spend time with their peers as they are able to build connections. Dr. O said that he had never thought about being something other than a teacher. After being asked, he pondered on the question for a moment and said “I would be a pilot because it ties in with my interests in science and all the instruments plus I would love to travel all around the world.” 


As a teacher who has been teaching for many years, Dr. O has created many of his own worksheets for each of his classes. After realizing that he had so many worksheets he might as well turn them into workbooks. This is why he has workbooks for each of his classes that students can check out at the beginning of the year from the school’s library. Dr.O also offers field trips from some of his classes like AP environmental science and ap physics Two. His APES class took a field trip to Dana Point where they were able to see endangered species and participate in activities where they counted the number of species in the surf zone. Students were given a chance to experience things that environmental scientists do. They also went to the long beach aquarium to see how different aquatic organisms live. One of his favorite classes to teach is environmental science because he thinks that it is important for people to learn that everyone learns at a different pace and has a different style of learning. Having to adjust is hard. 

Dr.O will be retiring soon, he plans to teach for one more year. After he has finished teaching he hopes to travel more to different places such as Australia, new zealand, and Scandinavia.