Top Teachers

Saturday, December 13, 1997

Name: Cris Rathyen
Position: English teacher, Moanalua High School
Age: 49
Education: Marietta (Ohio) College, University of Hawaii
Pastimes: Package wrapping, reading

Relating to relativity

One of the first things Moanalua seniors see when they enter Cris Rathyen's Advanced Placement English class is a physics teacher.

"He teaches them Einstein's Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics, that things can exist and not exist at the same time," Rathyen said.

Call it Applied English. Rathyen's theory of teaching is to instill in students the notion that everything is related. It's a theory that takes her students everywhere from the opera to current events to fine arts.

"Rath taught me how to make connections across different things," said former student Marvin Tagaban, now a Harvard University sophomore.

Not surprisingly, there's also a heavy dose of philosophy. This semester's reading list includes Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World.

"I teach students, not what their values are, but to examine and come up with their own belief systems," Rathyen said.

Besides two literature sections, Rathyen teaches photography, yearbook, non-tracked English and academic decathlon, in which Moanalua students compete with other schools.

While some of her classes are for advanced students, Moanalua Principal Jaqueline Heupel noted Rathyen is known for inspiring other students as well. "She's just the quintessential teacher," Heupel said.

Gordon Pang, Star-Bulletin

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