Carolyn Jones/EdSource
Bob Capriles, who was a STEM teaching award, teaches math and engineering at Fremont High in Sunnyvale.

Bob Capriles, a math and engineering teacher at Fremont High in Sunnyvale, gave up a good salary and solid position in a booming industry.

Capriles, 52, worked for more than 20 years as a computer engineer and project manager at Hewlett Packard, Yahoo and other Silicon Valley technology companies. Then, in 2010, when he was laid off from NetSuite after eight months on the job, “I walked out the door and at that moment, I knew I’d never work in tech again.”

Partly that was because he saw the technology sector as notoriously youth-oriented and he feared he’d never be hired again. But mostly it was because he finally felt liberated to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher.

Capriles, a former Eagle Scout and father of three sons, had always loved coaching his kids in after-school sports and volunteering at local schools. With guidance from EnCorps, a nonprofit that helps math, science and engineering professionals become teachers by connecting them with volunteer jobs and teacher training programs, he enrolled in an intern credential program at San Jose State University in June, 2011.  About six months later he  was hired at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale as a math teacher. Capriles didn’t receive his teaching credential for another year and a half, attending classes at San Jose State nights, weekends and summers while working as a full-time teacher.

Once in the classroom, he got help from mentor teachers and had plenty of support from San Jose State, EnCorps and his principal and rarely felt unprepared, he said. He took a pay cut of more than 50 percent when he started teaching, and to make ends meet in pricey Silicon Valley his wife returned to work.

Now he teaches five math and engineering classes a day with a total of 135 students, and in 2014 won a Texas Instruments STEM teacher award. His goal: to train the next generation of Silicon Valley tech workers, who will hopefully bring more diversity and humanity to a field Capriles says is lacking in both.

Workers in the technology industry are predominantly white or Asian and male, according to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and layoffs are commonplace.

‘My favorite day is Monday

Fremont High, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is a bastion of diversity by comparison: nearly 57 percent of the student body is Latino, Filipino, Pacific Islander or African American. More than 16 percent are English learners and a third are poor.

“These students have the opportunity to change the way technology – and the tech industry – works. They can make it different,” Capriles said. “I want to see kids who are under-represented in engineering become engineers. Here, we find them, we get them excited about math and engineering, and we let them fly.”

Sophomore Rohan Rodrigues, who’s in an extra-curricular programming club that Capriles oversees, said he wants to be a computer engineer in part because of Capriles. He was among a dozen or so students who’d gathered in Capriles’ classroom at lunchtime to tinker with computers.

“He’s good at explaining the information. He has us do activities independently – I just like his teaching style,” Rohan said. “He brings his engineering background, which is really helpful.”

Despite the steep pay cut and lack of perks compared to a big tech company, Capriles said he has no regrets.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to retire, but I don’t care. This is my retirement job, and I hope to do it the rest of my life,” he said. “I leap out of bed every morning to come to work. My favorite day of the week is Monday. And trust me, I never ever felt that way in tech. Never. Ever.”

 

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  1. Paul 6 months ago6 months ago

    1. Investments from his past career in Silicon Valley likely make it possible for him to survive on a beginning public school teacher's salary. There is no credit for private-sector experience. 2. A beginning teacher in tiny Fremont Union High School District earns a generous $62,514. San Francisco Unified pays $52,687 and Oakland Unified, just $46,411. 3. A Bay Area software engineer with a desirable skill such as Python starts around the maximum Fremont Union High teachers' … Read More

    1. Investments from his past career in Silicon Valley likely make it possible for him to survive on a beginning public school teacher’s salary. There is no credit for private-sector experience.

    2. A beginning teacher in tiny Fremont Union High School District earns a generous $62,514. San Francisco Unified pays $52,687 and Oakland Unified, just $46,411.

    3. A Bay Area software engineer with a desirable skill such as Python starts around the maximum Fremont Union High teachers’ salary ($116,495 in Year 28). Most any Bay Area software engineer earns more than the maximum teachers’ salary in San Francisco ($91,934 in Year 28) or Oakland ($83,437 in Year 31).

    4. There are no job protections during a teacher’s first two years in a given district, and the temporary contracts handed out today often prolong the uncertainty. Due to low within-district seniority, career-switchers will be among the first teachers to be laid off in the next recession.

    5. On an individual level, this man’s decision to teach is laudable. My comments are not meant to diminish his work, but rather, to state one reason why the problems of staffing and technology education are not solved. Don’t get me started on the fact that California has just begun, in the last two years, to examine credentialing and (non-AP) curriculum for computer science, after completely neglecting that field for two decades!

    Teachers’ salaries, 2016-2017:

    Fremont Union High School District [Sunnyvale]
    Year 1: $62,514
    Maximum (Year 28): $116,495

    San Francisco
    Intern: $44,789
    Year 1: $52,687
    Maximum (Year 28): $91,934

    Oakland
    Year 1: $46,411
    Maximum (Year 31): $83,437

    Notes:

    – Units (and sometimes, degrees) beyond a bachelor’s degree slightly increase the starting figures. A completed credential program comprises at least 31 units but is not, in and of itself, a master’s degree.
    – Many districts, San Francisco Unified among them, reduce the salaries of a teachers with Internship Credentials. Fremont Union High and Oakland Unified might well express such reductions in board policies or separate salary schedules.
    – The maximum salaries all require the equivalent of multiple full-time years of additional study. Some districts allow teachers to purchase credit for workshops, conferences, and so on. Fremont Union High only accepts units from graduate degree programs.

    Salary links (subject to change):

    http://www.fuhsd.org/file/1224957695964/1224957820648/8679435145800687048.pdf

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1opJqSEgWmrLnwoNLkbLQ2uA69BCUzjVjG8wUh0SHFR0/htmlview

    http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/contract%20and%20salary%20schedules/Teachers%20salary%20schedule–%20%207-1-14%20thru%206-30-17.pdf
    [See Page 3 (labeled 101), Page 9 (labeled 110), and Page 6 (labeled 104).]

  2. studypug 6 months ago6 months ago

    As a passionate educator with a technology platform ourselves – we are a big fan of math passion! Kudos to your initiative!