Where someone starts their journey is also where someone can end their journey. Kaiser has welcomed English teacher Dallas Uti. Every teacher has a story before they come to a new school and Uti’s started at Kaiser.
Uti is a Kaiser alumnus who grew up in Aina Haina. As a student, she always enjoyed English, which is why she became a English teacher. At Kaiser, Uti is currently an ESL (English as a Second Language) and English Literature Language teacher. Uti didn’t always know she wanted to be an English teacher but as a student, she loved the way Mr. Lane taught when she was in high school. “I like the way he treated us and taught us. It’s the reason teaching became her first career job and still is.” Uti majored in English at the University of Hawaii at Manoa then went to grad school for her teaching degree while working. Uti originally went to college at Loyola Marymount University in California, but school became very expensive. “If you’re not in love with that school, come home,” her mother told her. Uti transferred to UH, and doesn’t regret her decision. “I don’t know if I would say it was the college for me, but I was grateful for it,” she said.
Uti has been teaching high school students in English for six years. She first started teaching at Kaiser but transferred to Maryknoll. She prefers high school students. “I love the way my class is and the way my students teach me.” Uti enjoys having conversations and open discussions with her students and interacting with them, even when it is not in person. “My favorite part of teaching is the kids. You don’t go into it knowing that it’s a glamorous job or it’s an easy job. But you do it because you know that you’re going to have these students, and you know you are going to somehow affect their lives,” Uti said.
Teacher’s lives aren’t always spent in the classroom or grading papers and making assignments. In her free time, Uti binge-watches shows and documentaries, and goes to movie premieres at midnight with her husband. She also has family in the islands, and she likes to visit both of her sisters’ houses to spend time with their kids (and go to their pools). And when she is on vacation, Uti loves to go to Los Angeles because she has family there. “I love everything Disney—Disneyland, Disney characters,” said Uti. She also goes to the beach with her husband, but she would much rather be at home.
“I believe that the written word is powerful. Being able to document what we do, and to communicate our lives in writing motivates me to make sure that other people are effective communicators,” Uti said. Uti has a strong belief that if students can put their lives and their hard pasts in writing then they can be effective communicators and this is what also motivates her as a teacher everyday. “Everybody can be good at writing. Every student can be good at writing.” Uti is passionate about her work, and believes that everything we do in school is a life lesson. One of Uti’s examples is late assignments. “Late assignments are like paying rent. If you miss your rent, you have to pay a fee. Students have to learn to meet deadlines and do what they’re told to do,” Uti said. Uti has a very strong passion for her students, and believes they are all capable of doing anything they want if they put their mind to it.