Math teacher Mr. Emilio Gasca switches to CTE, filling sudden computer science vacancy


Reese Moracco

On Oct. 29 during one of his first classes, Mr. Emilio Gasca helps Hayden Stewart with classwork. Computer science teacher Mr. Matt Strinden left after three years for a job as a vice principal in the San Juan School District, passing the job to Gasca. Photo by Reese Moracco

Computer science students weren’t expecting to switch teachers mid semester, but that’s what happened in October as Mr. Matt Strinden left to take a position in the San Juan district as vice principal. 

The position was then given to Mr. Emilio Gasca, who recently started teaching math before he was approached by Strinden to take on the computer science role.

“I love math. Math has always been one of my passions, but computer science, I think, is more applicable for students nowadays, alongside engineering,” Gasca said. “When I got the opportunity to move on to computer science, I took it because the students seemed more interested.”

Gasca received his degree in mathematics and completed an engineering internship at Sacramento State University, where he was able to gain computer science experience and the skills he teaches students today.

Before officially taking over the position, Gasca shadowed Strinden during his last few days on campus.

“To ease the transition between teaching math and teaching computer science I was able to be here in his classroom for two days seeing how he runs things and how class goes every day,” Gasca said.

During Gasca’s shadowing period, students in the computer science classes were also able to meet him, making him a familiar face in the classroom.

“At first, he just watched Mr. Strinden for a day. Then on his first day alone, he was quiet but made sure we were on task,” Computer Science lll student Brady Cason said. “I think both teachers are great, and Mr. Gasca will be a great replacement for Mr. Strinden.”

It was a quick and unexpected change for everyone, but students like Lauren Ansaldo, who is in AP Computer Science Principles, did not notice much of a difference in the lessons as they were halfway through finishing a project when the transition happened. 

“The change of teachers was a bit abrupt and really was a surprise to our whole class. Being halfway through the semester made things a little difficult as we are finishing our apps and still haven’t had much time to adjust to our new teacher,” Ansaldo said. “Mr. Strinden was more of a teacher who taught through lessons, while Mr. Gasca is more about independent work so far, but we haven’t done much, so that might change.”

Gasca would also like to start an engineering program. Right now, he is in the process of creating a proposal for the program, which he will then present to the curriculum committee, which is led by principal Mr. Justin Cutts. The approval process begins later this semester.

“As the years go by, I’d like each year to add a different class,” Gasca said. “It would start with an introductory class, then add a second class, a third one and a fourth. That way, there would be a sequence of engineering classes throughout the course of students’ high school experience.”

Gasca will be working through a program called Project Lead the Way , a non-profit organization that develops STEM curricula for use by US students from K-12.

“They have different engineering courses, and it’s a very cool program,” Gasca said. “But it is quite an investment because of all the equipment we would need, and that’s the hardest hurdle to overcome.”