New Teacher on Campus: Jason Stoddard

Pema Secrest, Reporter

Jason Stoddard is Arroyo Grande High School’s newest addition. He teaches American Government to seniors and adds charisma to the AGHS teaching staff.

Stoddard’s classroom selfie (courtesy of Stoddard)

His drive to become a teacher was to instill in his students the inspiration he lacked during his experience in high school.

“I was hoping as a high school teacher that I might be able to be there for a student and help that student realize their potential and help them get to the next level,” Stoddard said.

 Stoddard’s ability to connect with all kinds of different students may come from the multiple personalities he has held throughout his lifetime. 

 “I was an outcast, kind of a goth kid,” Stoddard said. “I was very quiet and shy, but I did a whole 180 and now I’m loud and boisterous and just a giant goofball.”  

His passion for teaching, connecting with students, and learning is evident through the way he defines what makes a good teacher. 

“I think a good teacher comes from having knowledge of content, having compassion, understanding, and empathy,” Stoddard said.  “I think a willingness to put themselves out in front of their students so that students can see teachers are people too and that we can relate together and move forward in progress [is what makes a good teacher].” 

Despite the love for teaching Stoddard exudes now, teaching was not always his plan. 

“I was in management. I have been the manager of retail stores as well as a movie theater,” Stoddard said. 

After years in management, fate saw Stoddard in a different career.

“I was stuck in traffic one day, right next to a college, and a lit-up college sign turned on [an advertisement for teaching] and I literally pulled into the parking lot and signed up, and three hours later I was set up for my first classes,” Stoddard said. 

He graduated from Coastal Carolina University and went straight into teaching.

Stoddard doesn’t regret having experience in management before teaching, though. He says many skills carried over from his career switch.  

“The ability to talk and communicate [translated]. Communication is so key and vital. It’s much more than just the verbal aspect, it’s body language, the words you use, and the way you emphasize. I learned all of that from retail sales, from management.”

Stoddard and students pose for the camera (photo courtesy for Stoddard)

After teaching for eight years, Stoddard has decided that his favorite year to teach is seniors.

“Maturity in seniors is part of it, but it’s [also] the ability to see the growth in maturity from ninth grade to twelfth,” Stoddard said.

No matter the age or grade level though, Stoddard wants to make his students feel seen and accepted and help them on their journey to success. 

“I think having a teacher that has your best interests in heart and no other agenda has made me fall into a good spot with a lot of my students,” Stoddard said. “I’m here for them not for me, and if they’re doing well and they’re succeeding, then I’m doing something right.” 

Within his American Government classes, Stoaddard’s favorite unit to teach is the Judicial Branch. 

¨It has a big impact on a lot of our lives and I think a lot of people don’t realize just how important it truly is or what it is,” Stoddard said. ¨People need to understand what their rights and protections are.¨

Outside of the classroom, Stoddard lets his inner movie buff shine. 

¨I have a DVD collection of almost 500 movies. I think my favorite movie is the vampire movie ¨The Lost Boys. It’s mid-1986 back when vampires didn’t twinkle or sparkle.” 

On his ideal day off, Stoddard would be watching the 49ers, hanging out with his family, cooking an amazing dinner. 

“Lately I’ve actually really been getting into cooking. I made a really good ‘I’m not trying to toot my own horn’ Teriyaki Tri-Tip and it was delicious,” Stoddard said with a smile. “I was amazed at how well it turned out.” 

Stoddard serves in both the kitchen and the classroom. 

Above all, Stoddard wants his students to feel that they can achieve whatever they may wish, as long as they have the mindset to do so.

“Know you can do something and if you really are ready and willing to put your minds towards it, you can accomplish it. That feeling is what I want to feed in my classroom. Each step is a success and each success is a win, and eventually, those wins will win you the game, battle, or war.” 

AGHS is extremely lucky to have Mr. Stoddard and all of his energy and passion as well as his ability to inspire future generations.