Student Profile: Alisa Block wants to make math less scary for students

Monday, March 21, 2022
Alisa Block

Alisa Block is pursuing a Master’s in Education and a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics in the Teacher Education Program. Growing up, her family was low income, and she and her siblings would be the first generation to go to college. School was always very important to her, and after graduating high school she moved to Santa Barbara where she attended Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara. Block graduated from UCSB in 2017 with a BA in Psychology and Minor in Applied Psychology. She first worked as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, where she helped improve both mental and physical health of her clients, as well as teaching them about health and exercise science. Enjoying her role as an educator, Block sought out teaching as a substitute teacher with the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

GGSE: You’re pursuing a teaching credential in mathematics. What led you to choose this subject? Have you always gravitated toward numbers?
Block: I chose to pursue a teaching credential in math because when I was in secondary school, my math teachers made math very difficult, stressful, and daunting. After working as a long-term substitute teaching Math 2 at Dos Pueblos High School, I realized that math does not have to be as stressful as it was for me, and I wanted to be a math teacher who could help math not be so stressful and scary for students.

GGSE: How did the pandemic shutdown affect and reinforce your passion for teaching?
Block: I worked as a substitute teacher throughout the shut down, and before that I was working two other jobs, and teaching was the only one that kept going mid pandemic. Everything else was shut down, so I really dug into teaching and decided that’s when I’d take the next step and apply for this program.

GGSE: Has fitness always been an important part of your mental/ physical health journey? Tell us a little bit about its significance in your life.
Block: I have always loved fitness; I played varsity and club volleyball in high school and always loved to stay active throughout college. I worked as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer for two years and loved every minute of it. Nowadays my fitness passion is more self-focused; I definitely use fitness for stress relief as well as for my physical health and well-being.

GGSE: Tell us about a memorable and impactful experience you have had with one of your teachers.
Block: A memorable moment I had as a student with one of my teachers was in my senior year of high school with an English teacher named Mr. Mayesh. He often read stories or poems to the class, and I can’t remember the name of it but one day he read a poem about going to college. After each verse, he would stop, look up at us and say “College,” hold up one hand with his palm facing up, then would say, “Poor,” and then held up his other hand in the same way, to symbolize the equivalence of being in college and being poor. Nothing prepared me more for struggle meals and budgeting more than this poem! Grad school is a similar vibe.