Meet The
Teachers

Ms. Blockhus

Classics, Latin
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Ms. Blockhus

Subject Expert Teacher Classics, Latin

Ms. Blockhus has a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Classics with minors in History and Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her time at UCSB she was on the honors list all but one quarter and won both of her department’s awards for academic excellence: the Civitas Award and the Aldrich Award. Ms. Blockhus graduated Summa Cum Laude and was inducted into the school’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. After earning her Bachelor of Arts and Science, she joined Teach for America while she worked towards a Master of Arts. Ms. Blockhus completed her Master of Arts in Inspired Teaching and Learning emphasizing in English Learners at National University.

As Latin and Classics subject expert teacher, her primary goal is for her students to become proficient in the basics of the Latin language through exploration of classic literature and ancient history. BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School provided Ms. Blockhus with the opportunity to teach what she loves. Latin and Classics were the focus of her undergraduate work and have always been an area of avid interest for Ms. Blockhus. She shares this love with her students each day in the classroom.

She believes that learning is the purpose of teaching. To her, this means that if students are not learning, educators must change the way that they teach. She explained, “Reaching each individual student and helping them meet their potential should be our teaching goal. Engaging students in meaningful activities that allow them to expand their knowledge while building on fundamental skills is at the core of my teaching. Ongoing monitoring of student progress allows for modification of teaching strategies that will improve student outcomes.” In short, Ms. Blockhus’ philosophy is we do what is necessary for students to be successful.

Ms. Blockhus feels that students learn best when they are engaged and interested. In order for students to be engaged they must feel safe, supported, and that they are capable of doing what is being asked of them. In order for students to be interested they must feel some connection to what they are learning and a purpose for what they are doing. She also provides opportunities for students to work in a variety of settings, whole group, small group, pairs, and as individuals. This allows students to have an opportunity to work in a setting most comfortable for them while also providing them opportunities to develop strategies for working in settings where they may be less comfortable. She makes connecting the academic content to her student’s lives a priority during planning. Whenever possible Ms. Blockhus provides opportunities for students to choose how they interact with the learning, and how they show what they have learned. In this way, students learn to utilize their strengths while they develop skills in less dominant areas. This also allows students to understand that their peers may have strengths and interests different from their own and that they can assist others in developing skills and can be assisted in areas they need development.

When not on campus, Ms. Blockhus enjoys reading, crocheting, and going on hikes. These activities allow her to de-stress without focusing on a screen or device. One fun fact about her is that while on an archaeological dig my junior year of college, she dug up an ancient Roman’s shin bones!

Mr. Haberlach

Physical Education
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Mr. Haberlach

Subject Expert Teacher Physical Education

Mr. Haberlach has a Bachelor of Science in Education with a Major in Physical Education from Western Oregon University, as well as a Master of Science in Exercise Science from Concordia University – Chicago. He is also a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer.

As a Physical Education Subject Expert Teacher at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School, his goal is to teach the students that exercise is important for physical, mental, emotional, and social health. He teaches different exercises that are fun, but that also build strength and endurance. Mr. Haberlach ensures that his classes encourage and motivate students to make exercise as part of their everyday routine so that they eventually turn into lifelong habits. Students will participate regularly in a wide variety of exercises and sport activities. They will learn that exercise can be done individually or in small groups and that both methods can be fun and rewarding. They will learn that exercise will make them feel more alert and more energized and that it is an important daily activity.

Some of his favorite activities to teach TK- Grade 5 students are motor skills with a focus on how to move the body correctly. Developing motor skills at a young age is the foundation for all types of exercise, sports, or activities that they will participate in throughout their lives. Students learn best in physical education classes by using a progression method that starts at an easy level that slowly builds to more difficult skills. The progression method allows many repetitions and practicing those skills before advancing to another level of skills.

In his free time, Mr. Haberlach enjoys going backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with his wife and three children. Backpacking is a great opportunity to spend quality time with family, away from the distractions of everyday life.

Ms. Jayapal

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Ms. Jayapal

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Jayapal received a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering with Distinction from Madras University. More recently, she completed 13 core units of Early Childhood Education from Ohlone College in Fremont.

One of the reasons our school is a good fit for her is that she appreciates the challenging curriculum. She believes that each student is unique and helps to create a warm learning environment in the classroom by their specific participation. She takes her role in education very seriously, feeling that schools have an incredible responsibility. “Both substantial morals and academic knowledge must be imparted to students during their education to help them do well in society and beyond school.” Ms. Jayapal explained that her part in this is a commitment to understanding the concepts well enough to be able to explain them to the students in a formulated way.  Her main goal in the classroom is to spend time on concept building and helping kids develop a productive learning ethics. Ms. Jayapal finds it especially rewarding to witness students achieving academic excellence.

Ms. Jayapal loves outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and going on walks. She is also a licensed Zumba instructor.

Ms. Ju

Mandarin
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Ms. Ju

Learning Expert Teacher Mandarin

Ms. Ju earned a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language at Shanghai Normal University, and then a Master of Science in TESOL at University at Albany-SUNY. Teaching is her passion. She has taught at other private schools in the Bay Area and is very excited to work for BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School. Our school mission is to educate students to the highest international levels, which Ms. Ju feels perfectly matches her teaching philosophy. “BASIS Independent school has intelligent students, excellent expert teachers and an amazing curriculum,” she explained. This is a wonderful environment for me to continue to hone mydevelopment as a teacher.”

As an educator, her goal is to guide students while they explore, follow, and achieve their dreams. Another key goal is to help her students understand and appreciate that learning is an ongoing process that never ends. Ms. Ju feels that it is important to teach students about respecting others and to treat others how they would like to be treated. She believes that each student is unique and should be valued. She commits to assisting stu-dents in discovering who they are and what they need, so they can express their own opinions and nurture their own ideas. Ms. Ju helps students to fulfill their potential by believing in them as capable individuals. She believes that it is her responsibility as a teacher to facilitate the learning process, and to promote a safe, productive and inclusive environment, which in turn improves her students’ social, intellectual, and emotional skills. She hopes that her students feel comfortable in relating to her as a tool to help lead them to success.

As a Chinese language teacher, Ms. Ju believes that students not only learn various linguistic knowledge, they also develop skills on how to use Mandarin as a tool of communication. An important part of her teaching is to guide students to learn and understand Chinese culture. For example, to incorporate all kinds of cultural elements in her lessons, such as history, social values, customs,beliefs, traditions and so on. These help guide classroom discussions and encourage students to participate in cul-tural events. She enjoys using tools like group discussions in these lessons, so that they can collaborate together and think of things they might not have otherwise on their own. She will include music whenever possible, as it maximizes engagement on any topic. And it’s a lot of fun!

When Ms. Ju is not teaching, she enjoys hiking, traveling, watching movies, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Ms. Palacio

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Ms. Palacio

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Palacio earned her Early Childhood Education credits from Mission College and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education at Pacific Oaks College. She has worked in Early Childhood Education since 2012, most recently as a Pre-Kindergarten English-speaking teacher at an English and Chinese Bilingual school. Her goal as a Grade 1 LET is to inspire and guide students to be successful in their educational journey. She helps them learn by connecting the lesson to the real world and engaging with their interests. Ms. Palacio also allows children to collaborate and share what they are learning with one another, and offers them the opportunity to share their own opinions and ideas in a respectful environment.

She chose BASIS Independent because our curriculum provides children the opportunity to gain new knowledge by making connections between their classes. The foundational skills and knowledge that are imparted to students in our program inspires and motivates her to excel as an educator. She believes children are capable and passionate learners. Ms. Palacio’s teaching philosophy focuses on the uniqueness of every child’s learning abilities and personality, while guiding them to achieve their educational goals and beyond. By providing children the support and engagement in a stimulating learning environment, they are able to gain independence and become critical-thinkers. She continued, “Students learn best when they are faced with challenges and problem-solving opportunities, when teachers support their learning and are empathetic towards their needs, and when student and teachers create a trusting and respectful relationship.”

When she is not in the classroom, Ms. Palacio loves to experience new places! Whenever she gets the chance, she also loves to go to Disneyland! Spending time with loved ones and her two dogs is always a treasured opportunity. Some fun facts: she loves to sing, dance/choreograph hip hop, and draw!

Ms. Mokhber Shahin

English, History
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Ms. Mokhber Shahin

Learning Expert Teacher English, History

Ms. Mokhber Shahin double majored at the University of California, Santa Barbara and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies She graduated with honors and distinction in Religious Studies. For her honors thesis and coinciding work in the fields of sociology and religion, she was awarded the Thomas F. O’Dea Memorial Award.

As an english and history teacher, Ms. Mokhber Shahin energizes students to think critically in the face of new information. She chose BASIS Independent to launch her teaching career because their rigorous academic standards reflect her educational philosophy: to best learn and grow, students need to push beyond their comfort zones. A lover of games and literature, Ms. Mokhber Shahin incorporates these into her classroom to facilitate an environment that’s both challenging and fun.

In her free time, she loves to frequent the beach, practice Pilates, create mosaic art, and drink iced coffee. She always has a book in her bag!

Dr. Xue

Math
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Dr. Xue

Subject Expert Teacher Math

Dr. Xue earned both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from Xidian University, and earned her Ph.D in Microelectronics and solid state electronics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. My major is. She worked at Arizona State University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate from 2006 to 2008. Dr. Xue has been in California since then.

She was very excited to join BASIS Independent Silicon Valley as it is very well known and she has heard a lot of amazing things about our network of schools, including our great curriculum and faculty members. “Students who graduate from BASIS Independent Schools have bright futures and excellent reputations. I am thrilled to work at and contribute to this great community.”

As a Math Subject Expert Teacher, her goal is to ensure her students are engaged in the classroom to help them learn that math is fun, practical and challenging. They need to not only grasp the ‘What’ and ‘How’ but also should be eager to look for the ‘Why’ behind concepts. Dr. Xue is always excited to experience the learning journey with her elementary students. She explained, “Students may have different learning paths and different destinations but improvement should be always expected. As a teacher, I am happy to inspire their motivation, guide them to move ahead and develop their true love of math.” Math is a core subject which helps build students’ logical and critical thinking abilities, along with their growth mindset. Dr. Xue has students partner up or work in groups so that they can help each other and reinforce their collective understanding with the teacher available for guidance. She strives to create an environment that allows students to be relaxed, have fun and be confident while they practice their skills. She believes that an environment like this, coupled with their desire to work hard, allows student to learn best.

In her spare time, Dr. Xue loves reading, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family.