After 29 years of teaching — nine years at Glendale High School and 20 years at Clark — English literature teacher Stephanie Sajjadieh is retiring from teaching. A veteran of teaching English for both juniors and seniors, Sajjadieh has been teaching in GUSD since 1990, but came to teach at Clark in 1999. Although hesitant at first, she joined the Clark staff when she was offered a position by former principal Douglas Dall to help design the English curriculum.
“I just couldn’t deny [creating the English lessons] since I could now teach the books I really wanted students to read,”, Sajjadieh said. Since then, Sajjadieh has become an integral pillar to Clark’s English department and her classes were largely seen as a rite of passage for upperclassmen to have at least once before they graduated.
Throughout her life, Sajjadieh has always loved to read. The daughter of a former fourth grade teacher, she considered reading books as an escape from reality. It was that thrill of reading, along with the notion of having original ideas, that planted the seeds that eventually lured her to a career in teaching. “I really love this convergence of reading, books and teens,” she said. “I see literature as a vehicle for finding yourself and finding the things that make you you through the inward journeys of the characters we read.”
Numerous students have spoken highly of Sajjadieh, with many experiencing a rejuvenated love for English. “She really cares about her students learning in her class,” said junior Ava Garcia. Garcia, a current student in Sajjadieh’s AP English Literature and Composition class, said she greatly admires Sajjadieh’s enthusiasm for reading. “The whole class just made me want to read again,” Garcia said. “Striving to read more and improve my writing are the biggest things I’ve learned in her class, for sure.”
For Sajjadieh, English and the idea of original thought has never been more prevalent and important as now. “I always want to create an atmosphere where people can freely share their own ideas,” Sajjadieh said. “Phones changed everything. It makes students think there’s an answer to how the book should be read and interpreted when there really isn’t.”
When asked about what she’ll miss the most, it was an easy answer. “I, of course, will miss my co-workers here, but I’ll also miss my students as well,” she said. “The best part of teaching for me is seeing something in someone’s eyes light up with an idea they came up themselves. That’s how I know I did my job well.”
Once retiring, Sajjadieh plans to travel around Europe and enjoy having more time for herself and her family. However, if there’s one thing that’ll never change, it’s her undying love and passion for reading. “I never get tired of reading,” Sajjadieh said. “If there’s one thing to know about books, it’s that literature is not about finding x, but about finding your own ideas and making your own unique conclusions.”