Ms. Julia Raykin is new to the Pueblo High School staff this year as a speech and language therapist. Even though she is new to PHS, she has been working as a speech therapist in high schools for more than 14 years.
Born in Moscow, Russia, Raykin would find herself moving with a group of other Jewish immigrants, who moved to Austria, then Italy—and then from Italy to the United States.
During her high school years Raykin was very interested in languages and how people talked—so she decided to learn more about her fascination for linguistics and languages. She completed an internship through her high school at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York. After high school, she studied in Israel for a year. She came back to New York to pursue a degree in Communication Disorders and earned her Master’s degree at Long Island University, graduating with a Master’s of Science in 2004.
“I was really interested in languages and wanted to help people out,” Raykin said. This love of languages probably had to do with the fact that she was bilingual. Her mother was a speech therapist in Russia, but speech therapy was very different there. She said that she is able to communicate fluently in English and Russian and can converse in Hebrew and Spanish.
Like most teachers and staff members at Pueblo, Raykin said that she has been challenged working via Zoom this school year.
“The amount of work, sending numerous emails every day and returning assignments to students is very difficult,” Raykin said. She added, “Sometimes I feel like it’s hard to connect with students when they want to have their cameras off because I can’t really tell what’s going on with them.”
Raykin said that she would return to Pueblo when the TUSD School Board decides when it is safe to do so.
“When I do return, I will certainly follow all of the proper safety precautions,” she said.
Raykin said that she enjoys focusing on her students’ strengths and weaknesses—to determine what they need to continue developing their positive attributes and how to improve areas that need to be developed.
She stated, “I really want to focus more on students’ careers and how schools can help them with their futures.”
Raykin added that self-discovery is one of the most valuable lessons a child could learn in school.
“Getting students to know themselves is the life-long journey that I want to help them begin,” she said.
As Pueblo marches well into the second quarter, and November is upon us, the weather is at last cooling off. It seems that for many, summer lasted longer than usual this year. Unfortunately, for many students and teachers, it felt like “summer” insidethe classroom as well for much of the first quarter.
During summer break, the
air conditioning systems are shut down to save money. However, when several
teachers returned to this new school year, they discovered that their
classrooms were hot; and they stayed hot sometimes for weeks well into late
Marketing teacher Dr.
Maria Bicknell, located in the Tech Building, is one of those teachers sweltering
in extremely uncomfortable conditions.
“I tried to be positive in
this hot classroom, but it was hard to manage at times,” Bicknell said. “There
were some days I felt sick when I left Pueblo at the end of the day—like I was
going to throw up.”
Bicknell’s neighbor and
another Tech Building teacher, English and journalism teacher for the past 28
years at Pueblo, Mr. Rana Medhi, said, “Our administrators and district
engineers need to ensure that we teachers and our students are comfortable on
the first day of school. There’s no excuse for hot classrooms year after year.
Students cannot learn in 92-degree classrooms, and old teachers can’t tolerate
the heat anymore.” He paused and added, “It seems to me that we educators
should feel confident about returning to a new school year with everything
working and having comfortable teaching environments.”
Medhi added that he was
fortunate that he had to teach elsewhere for just two weeks; some teachers
weren’t so lucky…
Mr. Valentino Martin,
Pueblo’s auto shop teacher—and his students—suffered in the heat since from the
beginning of the school year. He and his classroom had to be relocated to the
Special Projects Room, which was very inconvenient for his curriculum, although
students still learned about auto shop safety and other issues until students
were finally able to return to T-9 when the air conditioning was repaired.
Then, on Aug. 23, the
A/C stopped working again, and Martin and his students were relocated again.
Another Tech Building
teacher, photography teacher Ms. Emma Tarazon-Oetting, also had to be relocated
to other locations while air conditioning unit was repaired.
Other non-Tech Building
classrooms were also excessively hot during the first quarter across campus,
and several teachers had to be relocated until the air conditioning was
David Montaño said that before students and teachers returned for the new
school, all of the air conditioning units were working, but a major
thunderstorm just before school started disrupted several of the A/C units.
“Based on the age of
some of these A/C units, repairs are bound to be needed,” Montaño said.
However, summer did end
at last, which alleviated teachers and students in classrooms that still had
inadequate air conditioning.
Many other environments suffered
as well. Even though the weight room may boast air, the room is cooled only by
a swamp cooler and big fans.
Just the opposite
occurred in many classrooms as fall began in late September—classrooms
experiencing frigid temperatures.
Junior Sarahi Perez said, “There are some days when the AVID classroom was downright Arctic, and so was [science teacher] Ms. Amaro’s classroom. The AVID classroom is either freezing or hot—it’s never normal in there. It seems that it’s never a healthy environment in which to learn.”
sophomore Dezarae Valenzuela, said that the Student Council room [Mr. Obregon’s
classroom] is very cold. I’d rather it be cold than hot, but sometimes you need
a thick blanket to stay warm.”
Junior Angel Leeth said
that in her math class, taught by Ms. Rhesa Olsen, she sometimes has to borrow
her teacher’s blankets, which she keeps in her classroom.
“It’s very difficult to
concentrate in her frigid classroom,” Leeth said. “It’s so cold, I fall
The AC system in the
main building is controlled and set by TUSD at 76 degrees, but the question
remains: Why were the temperatures in some classrooms and the library 59
degrees or colder?
Pueblo has just one
engineer, Mr. Robert Fuentes, a 1997 Pueblo graduate, who has been employed for
the past 14 years; however, for the past 10 years, he has been the only engineer
He explained that the
new equipment to maintain Pueblo’s cooling and heating systems are working with
an old 1980’s pneumatic system. In other words, two different systems are
trying to work together, often unsuccessfully.
“I like what I do,”
Fuentes said, “but it’s frustrating maintaining an entire school by myself most
of the time.” He added, “I have to do what I have to do to make classrooms feel
comfortable for our students and teachers.”
He paused and added, “This
school needs to prioritize repairs on its cooling system.”
The last time Ms. Angelica Aros was at Pueblo, as a high school senior in the 1999-2000 school year, PHS still had pay phones around campus; 18 years ago, students—and much of the world—did not know what cell phones were. People were still “paging” on their “beepers”, she recalled.
Aros is Pueblo’s newest attendance clerk—filling in for Ms. Rosalie Sinteral, who retired in December. But, she is not new to working in T.U.S.D.
“I know this [attendance office] work extremely well,” Aros said. “I could do this job in my sleep.”
Prior to returning to Pueblo, Aros worked at Pistor Middle School for seven years; then, she moved to Hohokam Middle School until the facility closed, at which time she transitioned to Tucson High Magnet School, where she remained for nearly four years.
Following graduation from Pueblo High School in the spring of 2000, Aros (whose maiden name was Miranda) attended Pima Community College with a soccer scholarship.
“Sports were always my passion in high school,” Aros said. “In fact, they still are.”
She added that although she loves her job, sometimes she chuckles at some of the excuses parents give for their children being absent or tardy.
“I could probably write a book about all of the stories I’ve heard [from parents],” Aros said. “As silly as some of the excuses are, we [the attendance office] have to accept them as legitimate.”
Except for the pay phones being removed from campus, Aros said that Pueblo “pretty much looks the same” as it did back in 2000.
On the first day of the 21st Century (Jan. 1, 2001), Ms. Sarah Barnes, one of the most visibly new employees at Pueblo High School this school year, arrived in Tucson from the East Coast, serving as a multi-tiered systems facilitator to help teachers learn new strategies to help increase our students’ test scores—as well as boost the overall morale at Pueblo.
Late last semester, Barnes was the primary speaker for our entire student population during a cohort meeting, stressing responsible cell phone behavior and other important social media advice.
“I want to get to know everybody at Pueblo,” Barnes said. “I want to know our students, the teachers, work with administrators and I want people to ask questions because I have a lot of questions to ask. In the short time that I’ve been here, I can tell that this school has a heart and soul.”
Barnes was born in Delaware in 1977, and while visiting Tucson, she fell in love with the weather, so she transferred from the University of Delaware to the University of Arizona.
“Moving here [to Tucson] was like getting out of jail,” Barnes said. “It was liberating to get out of Delaware for many personal reasons.”
She explained that education was not her first choice for a career. In fact, Barnes said that she studied criminology and even considered joining the police academy.
“Somehow my focus changed to education when I met somebody who suggested that I become a teacher,” Barnes said. “That somebody was our assistant principal Frank Rosthenhausler.”
She taught math for more than a dozen years before becoming interested in becoming a multi-tiered systems facilitator.
“I want to be a positive influence at Pueblo,” Barnes said. “I’m here for just about everybody—especially our students. But, I want teachers to know, too, that I wholeheartedly support them in every way possible.”
Barnes helps recognize students’—and teachers’!—perfect attendance this school year, printing achievement certificates for them.
After the sudden retirement of registrar Ms. Marina Ordoñez last summer, a new Warrior comes to the rescue to fill that position: Ms. Rachel Apalategui—who actually knew Ordoñez for many years prior to coming to Pueblo.
Apalategui is no stranger to Tucson Unified School District. She has worked at multiple schools, including Grijalva Elementary School, Pistor Middle School, Tucson High Magnet School and now at Pueblo.
“So far, I really do enjoy being here,” Apalategui said. “Pueblo people are very sweet, and our students are very, very kind.”
Coming to Pueblo has been somewhat of a bittersweet transition, Apalategui admitted. She spent 14 years at Tucson High, which she said kept her “grounded”.
“To be honest, I was really homesick [for Tucson High] in my first few weeks of being at Pueblo,” Apalategui said. “However, I have no regrets at all at this time, but coming here was a really huge change. I was used to more than 3,200 students compared to half of that number at Pueblo.” She paused and said, “I do love the smaller numbers.”
To be a high school registrar requires a great deal of communication and diplomacy, Apalategui explained. For example, this spring, she has to ensure that seniors have sufficient credits to graduate, and that can be very frustrating. She added that she has to have a frequent dialogue with counselors to make sure every senior is on track to graduate—and how to help every senior graduate in May.
“My advice to students—and especially to seniors this semester—is to make an appointment with their counselors to make a plan to best suit their chances of graduating on time,” she said. “Nothing is more tragic than seniors waiting until the last few weeks before graduation only to realize that they are missing one credit or even one-half credit—and not graduating until summer.”
Although her office walls are a bit bare, they won’t be for long, Apalategui insisted.
Retirements at Pueblo High School are always sad occasions for the staff and students who have to bear the agony of missing these employees, but retirements are especially sad in December because part of our beloved Pueblo community will not be with us in the new year.
But, Ms. Rosalie Sinteral, Pueblo’s registration attendance clerk for the past six years, has made up her mind. After juggling with the idea of staying another semester or even another full school year, she announced several weeks ago that she would, indeed, retire after more than 31 years in Tucson Unified School District.
“Despite knowing how much I’m going to hate leaving my Pueblo family, it’s time I retire,” Sinteral said. “I just feel that it’s the right time for me at this point in my life.”
Sinteral began her years in the district at several elementary schools—three years at Manzo, 17 years at Ochoa and five years at Grijalva. After her husband passed away, she decided to devote more time at work, which is what motivated her to come to Pueblo, where she works virtually year-round.
“I wanted to be at a school where I could work full-time,” Sinteral said. “When I first came to Pueblo, I needed to work more hours because it was good for my soul.”
Despite being a Tucson High School graduate (1976), Sinteral said that part of her heart is here at Pueblo.
“I’ve always felt at home here,” Sinteral said. “Truly, over the past six years, Pueblo’s staff is like a giant welcoming family who has always made me feel loved.”
Students, too, have expressed their love for Sinteral.
“Some of the students I knew from Grijalva Elementary School are here at Pueblo,” she added. “And there’s no way that I’m going to miss their graduation ceremonies in the next two or three years.”
She added that she felt especially close to students when they called her “Nana”, “Tia” or just simply, “Rosalie”.
“I never thought of students calling me by my first name was disrespectful,” Sinteral said, “because to me it just meant they felt they could trust me or they felt closer to me, like a friend.”
Sinteral said that she will also be returning for sporting events—as well as occasionally popping in to have lunch with her “lunch pals”, Ms. Susie Ugalde, administrative secretary, and Ms. Amalia Salazar, Native American student services counselor.
“These two ladies have been a lot of fun to know and have made my job a whole lot easier,” Sinteral said.
The feeling is definitely mutual…
Salazar said, “Rosalie has been a very good friend to me. She has exceptional qualities, including a willingness to always help make our lives easier here at Pueblo. She will be greatly missed. I’d like to personally say to Rosalie: ‘Enjoy your retirement to the fullest, and thank you for your gift of friendship.’”
Ugalde said, “For the thousands of people who came through those main doors, Rosalie was always welcoming and respectful. Personally, she has been a great friend to me in the six years. She also always remembered everybody’s birthdays! I will so very much miss having lunch with her.”
Sinteral said that she’s not the “rocking chair” type. She plans to spend time with her mother, as well as her nine grandchildren—who vary in age from 20 years old to 11 months old.
“Maybe I’ll have the time to finally travel like I’ve always wanted to,” Sinteral said. “I’ve always wanted to go to Hawai’i, so that is high on my list. Also, I would love to visit an old friend in San Antonio [Tex.] and, of course, go see Graceland in Memphis [the home of Elvis Presley].”
Sinteral especially wants to thank everybody at Pueblo for being the “special community” it has been for her—and always will be.
“There’s a magic here at Pueblo that I have seldom felt anywhere else,” she added. “I never want to hear that magic disappearing. What a wonderful, magical place this has been for me!”
Upon retirement, Sinteral said that she just wants to take life one day at a time.
“I don’t want to stress about my future,” Sinteral said. “I don’t want to miss the whole point of retirement.”