Jodee Janda Climbs a New Rock: Retirement!

As too many students are familiar with, oftentimes a single teacher has the power to dictate one’s entire class experience. Unfortunately, many students suffer when they are placed with a harsh teacher, but luckily numerous others prosper when taught by friendly and supportive instructors such as MC’s Jodee Janda. 

Janda, Her AP Bio Students, and Their Matching Vans Shoes | Photo Courtesy of Jodee Janda

When Ms. Janda’s Biology and AP Biology students look back at their science class, they will remember a kind, passionate woman walking them through creative labs so they can learn more about the study of life and enjoy theirs in the process. This innovative and intrepid spirit is what students love about Janda. It is also what they will miss most about the enthusiastic MC science teacher when she retires at the end of the 2021 school year. 

Before becoming a member of the Sundevil family, Janda found her first teaching job in Arizona, then her second in Joshua Tree, California. After her first 12 years in the education system, she moved out to San Diego where she found a family in the MC faculty and students as well as a home in the spirited high school. 

“I came in the middle of the year so I got put in as a […] substitute and I got a long term sub position which turned into a full time job,” Janda said.

Although the heartfelt relationship with her students and effective instructional methods make it seem as though she was born to be a teacher, Janda originally planned on a different career path. Janda got her degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of South Florida which set her up for a profession in research. After finishing off her college years, Janda took a job working in a cytogenetics lab at the university she recently graduated from. Soon after, she found another job opportunity in California at the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic. Though a career in research was her dream occupation just a few years earlier, Janda did not feel satisfied with her current livelihood. 

“I thought ‘well, I’m not really sure I  want to work in research’ and I got my teaching credential on the side and then I decided I wanted to  go into teaching instead of doing research,” Janda said.

Janda and Her AP Bio Students Having Fun on a Field Trip to the Birch Aquarium | Photo Courtesy of Olivia Scott

After discovering her new passion for teaching and becoming a part of the MC family, Janda  focused on her students. As a teacher, Janda’s main job is to educate MC’s future biologists; as a creative and adventurous individual, Janda is determined to make each of her classes an enjoyable experience for all of those involved. 

“I like Ms. Janda because she always tried to make class fun and interesting. I had a lot of conversations with her after class where we talked about whatever. She spoke to me and my friends like adults and treated us as such,” Junior and former AP Biology student Amber Kurtz said. “I think she was such a good teacher and person because she cared about her students. She wanted to see them succeed and pushed us to do well.”

MC biologists-in-the-making are  thrilled to have such a fun and imaginative mentor to teach them about the study of life. Janda’s innovative class lessons and unique extracurricular activities make Biology class an unforgettable experience.

“When I taught AP Bio, I would have […] AP Bio Camp, […] at the end of the year I took 140 AP Biology students camping […]. I did that for many years and then it just became too much and […] so then I just started doing a one day whole day AP Bio Camp Trip […] at Lake Dixon,” Janda said. “If I have my AP Bio kids come back, and visit me, that’s what they always remember, AP Bio Camp, because not only did they have to do research experiments but I also set up rock climbing for them, they took boats out, they fished, and we had a big talent show at the end of the thing.”

AP Bio Camp Trip to Lake Dixon in 2019 | Photo Courtesy of Jodee Janda

Janda went above and beyond as an educator and as a human being. Not only did she go the extra mile to ensure her students could grasp each topic, but she treated her students with extensive generosity and benevolence and considered their well-being the top priority. 

“My favorite thing about Ms Janda, other than her enthusiasm for teaching, would have to be her kindness. She was so understanding and was the first to ask you how your day was going. If you needed a break or just a minute to step outside she trusted us and placed our well being above all else, letting us take that minute to take a breath and then come back in,” Senior and former member of Ms. Janda’s AP Biology class Olivia Scott said. “She took the time to explain things when they were confusing and gave all the extra help she could. There was never a second of exasperation or frustration when we didn’t understand something, only the determination to get us to understand it the best that we could.”

Janda deeply cares about her students and understands that learning is a result of student motivation which is uncommon in a boring environment run by a harsh leader. 

“She’s very flexible and understands when it comes to classroom activities and grading. Aside from teaching, she’s a sweet and loving person. She’ll always invite you into her classroom just to hangout or converse,” Kirsten Newkirk.

Students adore Ms. Janda for her good hearted nature as well as her inspirational passion.

“The reason why she’s such a good teacher is because she is obviously very passionate about what she does. Her enthusiasm and her classes are what helped me solidify my plan to major in Bio after high school because she knows [how to]  make anything sound interesting,” previous Biology and AP Biology student and academic tutor for Janda, Sophia Dahlen, said. 

Janda was known by students and MC faculty for her beloved tendency to combine education with a good time. In addition to being an academic teacher, Janda also introduced individuals to new hobbies and adventures.

Janda Climbing With the MC Rock Climbing Club in Idyllwild, CA in 2017 | Photo Courtesy of Jodee Janda

“I got my rock climbing club going, probably about fifteen years ago, so I absolutely love teaching kids how to rock climb because I love it myself, and so through the rock climbing club, we would go to the rock gym, but I would take them on trips, we would go to Idyllwild […], we went to Joshua Tree, we climbed in Big Bear, we climbed in the Sierras that was really fun taking the kids on camping trips and […] several of my kids went on to competitive rock climbing at the rock gym. That was a great experience,” Janda said. 

After announcing her retirement, Janda has been thinking about what her next steps will be.

“I love rock climbing, and I’m still rock climbing, [so] I’m gonna do rock climbing trips. I’m a mountain biker and […] I love to travel and I’m a skier so I’m skiing right now, doing a lot of skiing and my big plans are to travel. We have an RV so I want to travel the United States […] and then go up to Canada and then probably trips to Europe; I really want to go to Alaska so, that’s another place,” Janda said.

MC is sad to see the beloved teacher go, but the Sundevil family is looking forward to hearing about all of the remarkable post-retirement experiences that she encounters.

Janda and Her Students | Photo Courtesy of Jodee Janda

“I am happy for her in whatever she goes on to do because I know it will be great, but I am sad that MC will be losing such a great teacher,” Scott said. “She was an amazing teacher who truly loved her job and her subject. It will be hard to find someone else who loves Bio as much as she does and has the willingness and patience to teach it to others. I was lucky to get the opportunity to take her class and will always be grateful for that amazing AP Bio class.”

Janda is just as sad to be moving on, but her adventurous spirit and exciting future plans keep a smile on her face. 

“It’s going to be hard to leave, but I have a million hobbies so […] it probably won’t be as bad. I think I’m just going to miss all the kids and my friends, my teacher friends, and the MC family,” Janda said.

It will be hard to see such a revered teacher leave the education system, but her heartfelt connection with students and lasting impact on MC guarantees her the right to visit at any time. Although she may no longer be an official MC staff member, as they always say, “once a Sundevil, always a Sundevil!”

Written by Roxy Hudson

Roxy Hudson is Co-Editor-in-Chief for the MCSun, and is going on her third full year of writing with the Sun Staff. She is a Senior runner for the Varsity Cross Country and Track Team and a member of MC's Varsity Soccer Team. When she is not spending her time running in circles on the track, Roxy is usually chilling on the couch with her two adorable chocolate labs or whipping up a tasty dish in the kitchen.

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