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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (April 2, 2018) – In his seventh year as a health and social sciences teacher at Halstrom Academy’s San Diego campus, Hunter Bliss shares how his passion for running led to a fall back during high school, and how it brought him back to becoming a passionate and skilled middle and high school instructor.
A super-star runner by ninth grade, Hunter unfortunately didn’t have one of “those” teachers or coaches in his middle or high school years – the teacher that inspires you, encourages you, and mentors you when you are on the verge of making a bad choice. Hunter is grateful today to be one of those teachers for many students at Halstrom Academy. Challenges he overcame earlier in life not only made him stronger, but have given him passion, empathy and a deep understanding of what it’s like to be a teen who can benefit from a positive mentor outside of the family.
“Sometimes educators can do things that parents can’t for their children, particularly their teenagers,” said Bliss. “There are times when students won’t listen to their parents. When a student says he’s going to make a certain choice, a teacher can often ask them to ponder on that choice, and gently suggest that maybe there is a better option.”
Issues with esteem and a need for some self-exploration created a longer road to college than for most post-secondary graduates. But at age 24 Hunter was accepted to San Diego State University where he studied sociology. It was there he had his first real positive teacher-student experience which inspired him to turn his focus in the direction of education.
Out of college, his first teaching job was at a school for special needs where he spent one year. Uninspired by his experience and while pondering his next steps, he was contacted by the director of San Diego’s Halstrom Academy who said a family who had transferred from the special needs school asked Halstrom to hire Hunter as a teacher.
“I've had the pleasure of working with Hunter for the last five and a half years as he's served Halstrom Academy, San Diego as a transformational teacher,” said Lynna Martinez, Senior Vice President, Educational Programs and Services. “Hunter has a powerful way of reaching young people and he's had a profound impact on the success and personal development of many of our students.”
From his first experience teaching at Halstrom, he recognized the school offered what many kids need. Especially kids like him who felt ignored and left out by teachers and others at school.
Martinez went on to say, “Hunter is passionate about connecting with students in a way that acknowledges their strengths and interests, and he encourages them to reach their highest potential. In a small school with a 1:1 setting, this takes a tremendous amount of dedication and genuine care.”
“The 1:1 instruction at Halstrom is a great way to teach,” said Bliss. “The student and teacher are accountable to one another, and both grow together. It makes it really fun to teach and learn. I’m so honored to be a role model for these students. I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be and can be a positive influence on so many students.”
As Hunter found his way into the field of education, he also found his way back to running. He says the focus has helped him develop more patience and a sense of commitment. By reconnecting with this personal passion, he is now one of the fasted runners in the country in his category, and says he is a much happier and centered individual and passionate teacher and mentor.