MTHS has several rooms and halls dedicated to the arts. Musicians can often be found frequenting the practice rooms in the music hallway. Artists congregate around the mural-adorned hallway containing the art classrooms. This year, however, a new patron of the arts joins the MTHS ranks, and his haunt is the counseling office.
New staff member Brad Serka will be the counselor for students with last names L-Q. Serka comes to our school from Edmonds Woodway High School, where he has been for the past 11 years. Despite his familiarity with our IB cousin school, he said, he was “ready to just try and be at a different school.”
Serka says that he was drawn to supporting students because of the good feeling that comes from helping them. When he was in school, he explained, other students were drawn to him when they had problems that they needed help solving. Now, his role and motives are similar: He wants students to be at ease when confiding in him.
“I want my office to feel like a place that students are comfortable being here, you know, just being themselves, talking to me about whatever they want to talk about whether it’s, you know, issues with their schedule, or they want to talk about college stuff, or they just want to talk about some personal issues, things like that. I want people to be comfortable here, to see me.”
Serka, a father of two, received his master’s degree in education from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, having received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Portland.
Serka is an avid patron of the arts who is a multi-instrumentalist who plays the guitar, bass, piano, drums, sitar, and also writes his own songs and poems and records them. Serka is also athletic. Up-to-date on Huskies and Seahawks happenings, he attends their games “all the time.” He also enjoys soccer, baseball, and basketball.
All in all, Serka considers himself a well-rounded person – something he hopes will allow him to connect with more of his students. He also hopes to at some point advise a club.
“I think it’s really the biggest thing for me is going to be a learning experience,” he said. “I’m very excited about it, too, though. It’s pretty exciting for me.”
Jason Rich will be in room 221 fifth and sixth periods this upcoming year, teaching World History 9 and English 10. Previously a Lynnwood Royal, Rich received his teaching degree from Northwest University in Kirkland.
“[Lynnwood H.S. teachers] highly recommended Mountlake Terrace as a great place to work and teach. Great kids and great staff,” Rich said.
Rich’s teaching philosophy revolves around the notion that civil discourse, learning, and understanding, he said, are most effective when people – both students and teachers – are able to talk with one another and gain an understanding and respect for opposing viewpoints. Although he recognizes that humanities aren’t the favorite subjects of some students, he still hopes that his students remember that “both English and social studies are dynamic and fascinating and necessary fields of study. I hope that, even if they’re not their favorite subject, they can appreciate the importance of those subjects.”
Rich first realized his teaching aspirations in the fifth grade – a sensation he described as a “whisper” – but ignored it because he knew how little teachers are paid. Having worked up and down the gamut of jobs, including at a furniture manufacturer, a casket distributor, an employee at Microsoft and various restaurants, he says that his greatest fulfillment was when he spoke with his younger colleagues and helped them achieve something greater. He says that he enjoys connecting “with individuals and help them understand why I was so excited about certain subjects.”
Rich says that his experience in various private sector jobs will help him connect with his students, the majority of whom, he feels, will go into private sector careers.
“Having experienced life outside of the academic realm, I think helps to give me a perspective and an appreciation for kind of where [students] are headed and what their future might look like,” Rich said.
In his spare time, Rich enjoys fishing, reading and camping with his three sons, ages 6, 8 and 10. Additionally, he is an amateur rock climber, though taking care of his kids takes up much of his time.
Using his wisdom, Rich hopes to guide students along the path to success this school year and said, “I’d like my students to remember that both English and social studies are both dynamic and fascinating and necessary.”
Marci Mahler will be teaching physical education in the gym this year and can also be found in the gym office.
Mahler has a history of working at MTHS for 16 years, but worked in Lake Stevens for the past two years. Her husband of 20 years, Erik, also works in Lake Stevens as a science teacher and is a former MTHS staff member.
During the past couple of years, she missed her friends and students. Following former P.E. teacher Susan Lahti’s retirement last school year, Mahler pursued the open position to become a Hawk once more.
Mahler said she hopes “to survive the first semester then refine [the curriculum] second semester.” Mahler’s adjustments for the latter half of the year include new ideas for teaching P.E. and fitness.
“I hope to bring my energy and passion for fitness to my students and hopefully they will be inspired to pursue fitness themselves,” Mahler said.
In school and out of school, Mahler can likely be found exercising and working out. “I do CrossFit about five days per week. I workout at CrossFit Lake Stevens and have been going there for almost [six] years,” she said. “I’ve met some of my best friends at my gym.”
Aside from being active, Mahler goes out on adventures with her family and her dog, Katy. Her favorite vacation spots are Disneyland and Hawaii. She and her family enjoy camping and beaches. They spend most of their time at their two sons’ sports games and practices.
Her desire to be outdoors and exercising drove her to become a physical education teacher.
Mahler earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Washington State University and her Masters in Teaching degree from Oregon State University.
“I like helping students realize how great being fit and active makes you feel. Fitness spills over into all areas of your life and makes improvements everywhere,” Mahler said. “Teaching allows me to do this with young adults at a time when they are establishing lifelong habits and routines.”
Mahler believes her devotion to sports allows her to find common ground with her students.
“I think my involvement in CrossFit helps me connect with my students because I love to work out with them whenever possible,” Mahler said. “I’m not the type of teacher to just tell my classes what to do then stand around and watch them suffer.”
Though she doesn’t have much time for it anymore, Mahler also scrapbooks life events.
“I think shared experiences connect people and build community, and that’s what I try to do through fitness,” she said.
And through understanding her students, Mahler hopes she can make P.E fun and relevant.
Michael McLaughlin can be found in former English teacher Peter Breysse’s room 113 teaching English 10 and 12.
McLaughlin “moved to this side of the mountains” after formerly teaching at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman. Though he hasn’t taught at a high school “in quite a while,” he said, McLaughlin has returned to be an Hawk for the first time since graduating in 1992.
“This school is a great fit for me and I know Terrace pretty well because I went to school here, and student taught here, and I did my administrative internship here,” he said.
McLaughlin has his goals set for teaching his students the aspects of writing, as well as helping them become strong writers and better consumers of literature. He views being an educator as getting to know students and “getting interested in their lives” as humans, from a person-to-person standpoint.
Seeing as he’s loved school as a student and as an adult, McLaughlin decided to pursue his passion for education.
“As far back as I can remember, [teaching] is what I wanted to do,” McLaughlin said. “I can’t imagine doing something else.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and master’s degree in educational leadership from WSU.
During his leisure time, “things kind of revolve around [my son],” McLaughlin said. He spends his time with his wife and 5-year-old son, who enjoy going out to eat at restaurants.
Otherwise, McLaughlin dedicates his time to reading and cars. Despite not being a musician or athlete, he finds interest in music and sports.
McLaughlin hopes to connect with students through his hobbies.
“I try to think of my students as people and relate to them in that regard and hopefully they see me as a person and not just some old guy in the front of the classroom,” McLaughlin said, “I think it’s important to try to connect with students and that we see each other as human beings and not just student and teacher.”
A former Hawkeye staff member, he’ll be co-advising the publication this year with Vince DeMiero. McLaughlin has worked for the Seattle P-I, the Spokesman-Review and ESPN, among other news media, and taught in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at WSU.
As he prepares for the upcoming school year, McLaughlin said he is excited to be back at MTHS again.