At CHAMPS, the intimate arts high school in the Valley, teachers often find themselves doing “double duty,” teaching multiple subjects, typically one academic and one artistic. However, there is one teacher who has himself spread quite thin, teaching English 10, Beginning Journalism, Advanced Journalism and Volleyball, a PE elective. He is also the advisor and founder of CHAMPS’ two news publications and coaches the school’s two volleyball teams.
This is Sang Lee, a Los Angeles native who has been teaching at CHAMPS for six years. Prior to beginning his teaching career, the UC Irvine graduate was a professional journalist.
In high school, Lee was a prominent athlete. He also wrote for The Explosion, Glendale High School’s paper, and had his work published in the Glendale News Press.
“[Doing journalism in high school] really gave me a lot of purpose. I loved sports, and I loved writing, and I loved journalism, so it was the perfect situation for me,” he said.
Lee is popular among students, who feed off his youthful energy. Many students have Lee for three or four years and multiple subjects. He is humble, emotional and unafraid to admit when he is wrong. Lee makes it a point to base his lessons off of what the students enjoy, especially in his journalism and athletic classes.
“I realize now that you really have to wear different hats for different situations… I think depending on the time of day, and depending on the location, you’re going to get a very different me,” said Lee.
Lee played a crucial role in turning a school that was once strictly focused on the performing arts into a school with athletic teams and two popular news sources.
Lee considers “The Champion,” the school’s satirical newspaper, his greatest achievement as an educator. Since its first publication in 2012, the paper has become a prominent aspect of CHAMPS culture. As of this year, the school has an official Written Arts Academy, which surely would not be possible without Lee’s commitment to the journalistic program at the school, and the popularity of the newspaper (and the school’s online publication, “The Paw Print”).
“When I was in tenth grade, I wasn’t really thinking about college. In the beginning of tenth grade, Mr. Lee gave this speech about why you should go to college for more than just the degree. I was like… ‘that was a really good speech. I really want to go to college now!’ No other teacher had said anything that had impacted the way I thought,” said Noah Rosen, Lee’s student of three years, who is currently Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Champion.