A worldwide pop-culture phenomenon carried into the classroom at a South Pasadena elementary school Thursday night, bringing with it thoughts of Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and Darth Vader.
Teacher Ronald Aschieris or Mr. A, as he’s commonly known, asked his 5th grade students to dress up his class in a Star Wars theme for Marengo school’s annual open house, and the kids didn’t disappoint.
Typically, it’s a night to allow parents, grandparents and guests to examine student performance, looking at mounted work on walls and completed projects displayed on desks, but not when it comes to Mr. A’s classrooms, highly anticipated each spring even for those not part of his daily instruction.
Annually, it draws many, simply curious as to what he and his students are up to next as the school year draws to a close.
Many of the attractions around the room incorporated what Mr. A’s students were learned in science curriculum, mostly chemical reactions, during the year.
With the new Disneyland Star War theme park opening at the end of the month, he and his class thought it would fun to go with the theme, noting it’s “better than seeing a bunch of papers on the wall that they [his students] already worked on.”
Creating a visual like Star Wars “has a real authentic audience for learning and the kids get excited about it,” he noted. “It’s a fun time for them to show what they know. And, it’s also good for the community.”
Mr. A says students enjoy the idea of a theme for open house because “it’s hands on, they’re engaged, and responsible” in carrying it out.
A graduate of USC and Cal State Los Angeles, Mr. A never intended on being a teacher. Instead he studied business and worked for a real-estate firm for eight years when he graduated from college. After spending some time volunteering in schools and substitute teaching, he realized that teaching was something he really enjoyed. He is now in his 27th year of instruction, and his 20th year at Marengo. Over that time, he has gained the reputation as the fun-loving, dedicated educator, who is respected by the administration, children and parents.
“I fell in love with teaching a long time ago and have been doing it ever since,” he said.
Fellow 5th grade teacher Rachel Rodriquez and her students team up yearly with Mr. A’s class to create the different themes, ranging from the human body one year to Harry Potter another, and even traveling across the United States, before focusing on space epic movies in 2019.
Looking over his room full of Star Wars attractions, Mr. A said with a laugh, “Either go big or go home,” describing a champion’s lifestyle, a winning attitude. “It’s great to create a memory for the kids.”
Many around town know that Mr. A works hard to foster a love of learning in is his students. Considering his popularity, his hard work and dedication are paying off.
It’s because “I love what I do,” he said warmly.