New year, new staff: Meet your new teachers, part 2


Graphic by Jaxi Cohen

Kaitlin Chassagne, History Teacher

By Ashley Glancy

Kaitlin Chassagne was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and grew up in Saudi Arabia and Singapore, before eventually moving to the United States for college. She attended the University of San Francisco (USF) and majored in international politics with a focus in Asian studies. After receiving her B.A. in 2017, she got her M.A. in teaching from USF in 2020. In her first full year of teaching, she teaches three sections of AP World History and one section of Modern World History for ninth graders. Aside from teaching, Chassagne enjoys running, reading, traveling, cooking, and baking bread. 

What inspired you to become a teacher? 

Illustration by Denis Yabut, Photo by Kimi Norway

I always thought about what I would want my day-to-day life to be like, and I knew that I felt the best when I was around other people, you know, joking with kids, getting to know them. And I also think that teaching makes you a lifelong learner, and I really love learning, so I think being a teacher will force me to keep learning and getting better.

How would you describe your teaching style? 

I try to get students to talk to one another pretty frequently. I try to bring some personality into it. I think it’s important that students get to be themselves in my class and that they get to know me a little bit, and I like for students to try and reflect on how they’re doing and what they’re learning because I think that’s an important component of the learning process. 

Why did you choose to teach history?

I feel like I’ve lived through world history. So many of the places we talk about I’ve actually either been to or lived in, so I think it makes it that much more real for me and that much more exciting, and I’m still learning so much about the world and how it was formed, and that’s been really great to do with my students. I like that it encourages all of us to broaden our perspectives. I think too often we have a Eurocentric perspective and especially an American-centric perspective, but we forget that throughout history, “the center of the world” has been many different places at many different times, but they’re all interconnected, and I think that’s great.

What are some rewards and challenges of teaching?

I think a lot of the challenges of being a teacher are similar to being a student, you know, time management, knowing what needs your attention and maybe what you can save for later, how to be somebody in a position of power but also feel approachable, how to adapt to your classes to the students that are actually there, not the class you necessarily planned for. Teaching is very rewarding. I think when you can tell you’ve made a genuine connection with a student, when you can see them have that “aha” moment when you and them can both see their progress throughout the whole year, all of those are so rewarding and make it so worth it.

Angelina Cowan-Byrns, English Teacher

By Darren Chin

Growing up in the Bay Area, Angelina Cowan-Byrns stayed local by attending San Francisco State to earn a B.S and the University of San Francisco to get an M.S. Ever since she could read, English was always Cowan-Byrns’ favorite subject, a passion she hopes to instill in her students. Before teaching here at Lowell, she worked at Denman Middle School and Leadership High School. She describes her class as a reformed one, and not as traditional as the ones she took in school. She works to connect real-life situations and societal issues with the content in class. Outside of teaching, she enjoys dancing. 

What inspired you to become a teacher?

Illustration by Denis Yabut, Photo by Kimi Norway

When I was in high school, I had an English teacher, who was my sophomore English teacher, and when I was going through a hard time in school she kind of helped set me straight. At the time, I had kind of given up on school — I thought I wasn’t going to go to college, just wanted to do the bare minimum to graduate. And she just helped put me back on track. I was like, “wow, I want to do this, I could have used somebody like this so long ago.” I felt like there were so few teachers that actually cared in that way, so I wanted to be a teacher like that

What do you like most about teaching English?

I liked English growing up because I was able to express myself and my thoughts. Critical thinking, communication, using those skills with other people in the room that come from different backgrounds and perspectives. I really love those conversations that take place in an English classroom, as well as me just enjoying stories and the reading that we do in class. I also enjoy writing myself and creative writing. All those things that I like creatively kind of just fall together in an English classroom. 

 What’s your first impressions of Lowell? 

I came from a small school and was teaching at a small school before this, so I love how engaged the students are with the community. I just like being at a big school again, because when I went to high school — I went to a big school — had a lot of fun at rallies, sports, dances, and things like that. But at my last school, we didn’t really have any of that, so I didn’t realize just how much I was missing out on that aspect of being in a big school community.

How would you describe your personality?

I’m chill, but I’m also goofy. I like a lot of things, so you’ll see that in the things that I teach. I consider myself an old soul, my parents were older, but I also grew up here in the Bay Area, and I also have that perspective of being a woman of color. I have a vast range of interests, and it shows in my personality. 

Eva Moore, History Teacher

By Angela Chen

Eva Moore was born in Newberg, Oregon. She attended six different schools throughout her high school career in Oregon, Florida, and California before settling in Sacramento for her undergraduate education. Due to her family relocating frequently, she came to appreciate the consistency and kindness her teachers showed. Moore was inspired to become a teacher after seeing the positive impact these educators had on her and other students. Upon graduation from William Jessup University, where she received her B.S in history, Moore earned her teaching credential in social studies at San Francisco State University. Now in her first year at Lowell, Moore is grateful to be teaching in-person and remains committed to fostering a new generation of societal upstanders.

When did you officially become a teacher?

Illustration by Mella Bettag, Photo by Marlena Rohde

I began my first teaching job out of my teaching credential in 2019. So my first year of teaching was also the year we went into the pandemic. 

What inspired you to become a teacher? 

High school was really hard for me, high school was really inconsistent. And there were just always teachers who saw me and who were really kind and supportive and showed me that education was a means for activism and self-expression.

Why did you choose to teach history? 

I chose to teach history because I believe in storytelling and narrative. I felt like when I studied history, I was able to see the context of my life in a different way and so I want to be able to provide the opportunity for students to see the context of their life in a different way through the lens of historical thinking.

What do you enjoy most about being a teacher?

I love making history accessible and usable. I love it when students can see themselves in history. And I love when students connect to the material and are really excited about it and have those like “aha” moments. And I think I really enjoy the community aspect of it. It’s teaching students civic engagement and how to be a part of a kind civilization, kind community.

What are some of your passions outside of teaching?

I love knitting, hiking, and pottery. I like ceramics because it’s something that I get to do for myself. It’s not something that I’m doing for anybody else. And it’s really cool to be creative, just for the sake of being creative.

Gabrielle Plastina, Biology Teacher

By Brooke Laur

Gabrielle Plastina is originally from Sammamish Washington, just outside the city of Seattle. She moved to California for college and hasn’t looked back since. In her little amount of free time, she enjoys attending sporting events in Berkeley. Although Ms. Plastina didn’t originally set out to become a teacher, her love of science and collaborative work keeps her happy.

Illustration by Elise Muchowski, Photo by Libbie Bowie

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I would say just biology in general, I’ve always loved learning about science. I think it’s exciting and interesting to see what I’ve learned in school and in college and thinking about how life looks the way it does, how it interacts, I just think it’s a really relevant topic. So my love for biology definitely fueled me into coming into education, and I didn’t always want to be a teacher. I actually took a dip into the medical field, which I don’t think I’m personally cut out for miscellaneous reasons. But, moving away from the medical field, trying education, that is why I’m here.

What do you like most about biology?

Learning about the science behind life is like developing a new lens to see the world. I love making connections between biology concepts and experiences in my daily life. 

What’s your first impression of Lowell?

Oh, I love Lowell. Everyone is so driven, everyone is nice and welcoming, the staff is so welcoming, students are hilarious, nice, and such a joy to be around. 

How would you describe your teaching style?

I’d say collaborative. I definitely love to use group work, I think learning in a comfortable and kind of safe space where you can actually say ideas and not feel like they’re going to be wrong, that we can have a process to figure out what the right answer is together is how I prefer to learn and how I have found learning to be the best way in the past. Collaboration, group work, just generally communicating to one another.

What’re you looking forward to most as a teacher?

I think as a teacher you meet so many new people every year and I’m so excited to see my students grow up and go out into the world and hopefully become biologists or other career paths in STEM.