Iris M. Gonzales
This Filipino, Chinese, and Hawaiin wahine (female in Hawaiian) was born on January 25, 1970 in California. My yellow Labrador/Golden retriever and I live in
Waialua, a small, historic town on the North Shore of Oahu.
I have been teaching at Kahuku High School, also on the North Shore since 1994. I teach Biology and Biotechnology, grades 9 – 12. I have coached the Surf Team for six years. My passions are surfing, running, dancing hula, competing in open-ocean paddleboard races, spear fishing, building things, sewing, cooking, and baking. Chocolate is a staple commodity in my house and has to be consumed on a daily basis. I am also fanatical about organizing and alphabetizing everything in my life.
In 1993, I graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a BS in Biology: Biochemistry and Cell Biology with minors in Secondary Science Teacher Education and Foreign Language & Culture.
During my undergraduate years I worked as a lab assistant in the School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. I performed immunocytochemistry and made digitizing camera lucida drawings for IBM-PC based three dimensional reconstruction system and was acknowledged in the manuscript based on abstract, “Compartmental organization of the neuropeptide network in the human caudate nucleus,” which was accepted by the Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. I was also a member of the Cross Country and Track & Field teams as well as an active member in the Surf Club.
My plans after graduation were to continue working as a lab assistant for one year then apply to medical school.
During my graduation party a friend’s mom, who was a principal suggested that I take a year off and teach here in Hawaii, then apply to medical school. Unlike other professions, there was a science teacher drought here in Hawaii and it was raining cats and jobs. The full-time Biology line started the first day of the fourth quarter and the principal told me that I was walking into the worst possible conditions. I survived those three months and plunged into the same line the following school year. Seven years later I still truly believe that teaching is what I was put on this earth to do.
Since then I have continued to participate in professional development and have developed curriculum for two different courses.
I published a “Classroom Management” article and have been nominated twice for the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award. During the summer I also work with teenagers at the Haleiwa Surf Center (a place where summer fun participants from around the island come for a field trip). There, we teach them how to surf, body board, snorkel, swim, paddle canoe, and take them sailing on sunfishes. It’s really difficult for me to call it work since I actually get paid to be at the beach all day.
My latest, largest, and on going project has been the complete renovation of my home.
With the help of my good friends, my older brother, and my mother I have learned how to do everything from demolition, dry walling, building fences, pouring concrete, to roofing, plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, painting, and landscaping. It has been challenging, yet rewarding. I am so intrigued at the potential of anything. Perhaps that is why we teach, why we bother to create at all: it is not so much to see what we can possess, but what we can make, what imprints our fleeting human hands can leave on this world after we depart.
I am looking forward to participate this summer, collaborate with my peers and visit the East Coast for the first time. I hope to gain a different perspective and learn new things that will help me to
enrich and enhance my teaching.
Courses/Levels taught—Key responsibilities
Clubs and Extra-Curricular activities
- Surf Team Coach
- Dancing Hula
- Spear fishing
- Cooking & Baking
- Building & Creating things
- Lab assistant
- Cross Country and Track & Field
Kahuku High School
56-490 Kamehameha Hwy
Kahuku HI 96731