Mr. Pommier: a Teacher and an Ally

Carly Hernandez, Contributor

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If one were to walk into Mr. Pommier’s class, one could find him standing behind his brown wooden podium taking notes for the class. While he stands there, he observes the environment, waiting for students to raise their hands to ask a question. They are eager to ask for clarification and help surrounding math problems. Many would describe him as a hard worker and determined to help students succeed, but few actually know him personally.

Pommier is a man who has faced multiple hardships. Due to his passion and eagerness to educate the world, he is motivated to encourage students to work their hardest in school. His ability to give advice to his students reflects his desire help others. Suliban Gramajo, a current senior at SRHS, had Mr. Pommier for Algebra 2 during his junior year. Gramajo describes Pommier as an individual who “loves helping others” during his free time. He has seen Pommier “ in the library afterschool helping students with their math homework.” This demonstrates his determination for wanting students to succeed in and out of the class.

Currently, Mr. Pommier teaches Pre Calc, Algebra 2, Algebra Readiness, Yearbook and Adult Education. Adult Ed is a class taken by students who turn 18 before taking Algebra 1, so they take this course to fulfill their Algebra requirements to graduate on time. He has taught the majority of these classes for the past six years.

The father of four girls, found his calling for teaching as a math tutor during college. Mr. Baker, a teacher at SRHS who has known Pommier since the very beginning of his SRHS career, explains that Mr. Pommier “looks at math as this beautiful creation that needs to be admired and studied.”

Not only does Mr. Pommier have “innovative ideas for teaching students math,” as described by Kevin McSorely, another math teacher at SRHS, but he is also willing to give up his free time to solve problems. Jose Ortiz, another math teacher, defines Mr. Pommier as “easy to be around and willing to converse on a wide range of topics. He is always willing to help with any problem that may come up. He is generally a good guy to have around.”

Juan Pommier was born in Bolivia where he lived with his sister, mother, and father. Pommier was just three years old when he set foot in the United States. His mother was born in Switzerland and his father was born in Bolivia. His parents met in Washington while his father was earning a PhD at the University of Washington. In 1987 at the age of 18, Pommier graduated from high school and became a U.S citizen. During this period of his life, Pommier’s father was unable to get employed. This took a huge toll on him and the family.

When Mr. Pommier was attending college, it cost money to write papers for classes like English because, before computers, students had to pay for access to word processing. Pommier avoided English classes in part to avoid writing essays. He preferred physics, chemistry, and math. His passion for math eventually led him earn a Pure Mathematics degree from University of California- Irvine.

Mr. Pommier says that his time in college was “incredibly challenging.” Taking care of his brothers while supporting himself forced him to mature quickly into adulthood. Mr. Pommier carried the responsibilities of his family while his father worked in Bolivia, the place where he was able to get a job. Mr. Pommier says, “I was the oldest male,” so all the authority landed on him. The departure of his father added a lot of pressure on Pommier that he recalls it being one of the “biggest challenges” he faced.

Despite this, Pommier continued to pursue a college education. He was determined to get his degree. Ronald De Leon, a current senior, says Mr. Pommier “would tell us stories of the things he did in college and through these stories he would give us advice on life and beyond.” Pommier believes that his students have the potential of pursuing a higher education even when it might seem impossible.

On the surface, a student may think that the only thing you can ask Mr. Pommier is about math. However, that is not the case. He is willing to go the extra mile to help those in need. Haliey DeOchoa, a senior at SRHS, says, “Mr. Pommier is my advisor and has helped me through my whole high school career and helped me stay on track in school along with learning how to handle certain setbacks.” This is something Pommier still continues to do.

It’s easy to find someone to tell you what you want to hear, but your true ally is one who is willing to give you the honest truth. Pommier is that individual. A teacher who influenced Pommier was his high school English teacher. He specifically told him during one of their conversations, “You have to trust that the people you love, love you as much if not more than you love them.” This statement made 35 years ago has still stayed with Pommier. Due to this mantra and the hardships he faced growing up, he was able to become the caring individual he is. Whether that be through math problems, giving life advice, or simply being there for his students, Pommier is an essential asset to the SRHS community.