Meet Erika Guijarro ’08 – Physical Education Teacher and Coach in LAUSD

ErikaErika Guijarro ’08 has been a physical education teacher, department chair, varsity basketball coach and softball coach at Arleta High School for the past seven years.

Arleta High School is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). This past fall, she applied for the UCLA Sound Body Sound Mind fitness center grant for her high school as a means to improve the current fitness center. “My goal was to provide my students with better opportunities to succeed with their health and fitness,” says Erika.

The grant was open to all LAUSD schools and some schools outside the district. LAUSD is the nations second largest school system with over 900 schools and 187 public charter schools. Erika says, “The chances of actually being selected to receive this fitness center were minimal!” She attended a meeting with the Sound Body Sound Mind representatives to express her goals for integrating the fitness center into the physical education curriculum and to sell them on the fact that this fitness center would tremendous benefit the students, the school and the community. The UCLA Sound Body Sound Mind representatives came to visit the school and physical education classes to determine the need for the $50,000 fitness center.

ArletaHSWeightRoomindexArletaHSindexArletaHS_1indexOn Tuesday, February 16, 2016, a large truck and crew unloaded and installed the new fitness center at Artleta High School. On Friday, February 19, 2016, there was a grand opening ceremony where the school, community members, school board personnel such as Superintendent Maltez and the district advisor for Physical Education, Chad Fenwick along with the donors and UCLA Sound Body Sound Mind representatives came out to celebrate the new fitness center.

Erika says, “My experience at Hope was tremendous. I had great mentors that helped shape the type of physical education teacher I am today. Coach Karla Wolters was one of my biggest supporters and mentor while at Hope. As my softball and korfball coach, she taught me great lessons on how to manage different situations. I model my coaching after what she taught me. The entire Hope community including professors, coaches and staff made my experience great. It was a huge culture shock coming from a big city (Los Angeles) to Holland, Michigan and the people here made it feel like home and were extremely supportive. Coach Morehouse was my first coach at Hope and gave me my first job at the Dow Center, Coach Vandermeer helped me understand that badminton is one of the greatest sports to introduce to my students, Nancy Kamstra was my student teaching mentor who always gave me confidence and believed I would be a great teacher. There are so many wonderful people at Hope. When I look back at how beautiful and advanced the campus is and how great the people are, I feel blessed and privileged to have had the opportunity to go to Hope.”