English Banner
The English Department is committed to giving students a strong background in all language arts skills:

Written and oral English language conventions
Listening and speaking strategies

Students must be enrolled in an English class every year until graduation. A total of 40 credits earned are required for graduation.

Alignment with our school’s concerted effort to focus on our Critical Thinking SLO began two years ago by defining what critical thinking means as part of our English Department graduate profile. Next, we made sure those graduate skills and content objectives aligned with CCSS. Last year we backwards mapped, further defining outcomes for each course. These Critical Learner Outcomes now exist for each level of English, and they ensure both vertical and horizontal alignment.

Members of the department have participated in Instructional Rounds and have used these observations to inform our practice and to support the collaborative community we’re striving to create. Thus far, seven of the 13 teachers in the English department have participated in Instructional Rounds. The remaining teachers have welcomed these observers into their classrooms. We will have two more Instructional Rounds before the end of the year, at which point all will have had an opportunity to participate.

To promote a positive learning environment for our students and a positive working environment for staff through our implementation of PBIS, every member of the department has posted Cardinal PRIDE posters in the classroom; each presents the third period PRIDE lessons; and every teacher passes out Cardinal Cash to students. Also, two English teachers participate in the Safe School Ambassadors Program, and all teachers have participated in Restorative Justice circles. Four teachers have used Restorative Justice circles in their classrooms.

All English department members maximize the impact of our extended weekly collaboration by being actively engaged in full department sessions, as well as breakout course level PLCs. In addition to this weekly collaboration, every teacher has participated in a full day professional development session with one of the course level PLCs. All work within the English Department is conducted in accordance with our departmental agreements, and seeks to integrate the practices of effective PLCs. To further improve our teaching, all English teachers have participated in LDC and ERWC training. In addition, three teachers are AP trained, six are AVID trained, and two have been to Puente training.

In the area of instruction, the department began this year by reviewing grade distributions to determine where we are, where we want to go, and to figure out how to get there. We’ve used full day pullout workshops to develop common assessments and to plan instruction to address our common objectives. In January we were able to norm our evaluations using student work and department rubrics. There is much work to be done, but we are working together towards a common goal, and this has strengthened the resolve and commitment of all teachers. In addition to designing curricula and assessments, the department has agreed to use Tutorial as an academic 85 intervention, allowing students to make up work that is completed in Tutorial.

In the area of assessment, our work has been driven by our graduate profile and critical learner outcomes for each course. Having completed the work to vertically align outcomes, our current focus is on creating common benchmark and summative assessments and rubrics. So far we have four writing assessments for each level. These tasks are constructed at DOK level of three or four; they are consistent with the LDC protocol, and they align to content mastery as defined by our critical learner outcomes. Every teacher contributed to the construction of these assessments and participated in the norming process.

In the area of technology, five of our teachers have completed Illuminate training, and we have all been trained to track Tutorial attendance on the iPad. Nine of the 13 teachers have a ChromeCart in their classroom. Seven teachers use technology for formative assessment, and all teachers participated in a Google Docs workshop led by other Mt. Pleasant staff members. In addition, some staff members have integrated technology into the classroom through programs such as noredink.com and vocabulary.com.

To meet our contractual obligation of using an online gradebook, every six weeks every teacher is up to date on grades entered into Schoolloop. Within each grading period, grades are updated and students are informed of their progress at least once.


English_Faculty Card IconEnglish FacultyTop of Page

Joe Lovato is the English Department Chair and is a 26-year veteran of Mt. Pleasant. Mr. Lovato earned his B.A. in English and his teaching credential at San Jose State University. Additionally he holds a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership, a preliminary administrative credential, and in 2014 he completed a fellowship at Yale University studying rhetoric. For the 2016-2017 school year, Mr. Lovato co-teaches three sections of English II Honors and one section of English I Support with SJSU graduate student/teacher candidate Veronica Arroyo. As part of the Goodwill Assets Grant, this year Mr. Lovato is also teaching a course on Thursday afternoons entitled Film and Fiction of New York City. In addition to his teaching, departmental leadership, and SJSU mentoring duties, Mr. Lovato is released one period a day to help strengthen Common Core instruction across the curriculum. As a life-long resident of San Jose’s East Side, Mr. Lovato is committed to creating a Mt. Pleasant community that nurtures and challenges students toward academic excellence and critical thinking. His professional interests focus on new teacher preparation and support, as well as developing creative project-based learning opportunities for students. For the past 17 years, Mr. Lovato has coordinated the Literary Society, publishing student writing and bringing professional writers onto campus through the Visiting Authors Series. Mr. Lovato serves on the School Leadership Council, the School Site Council, the English Curriculum Council, and is currently part of the new Learning Center design team. He has been honored by Columbia University, Santa Clara University, U.C. San Diego, as well as by the San Jose City Council, the California Superintendent of Education, and by numerous professional organizations. Mr. Lovato was recently featured in Heroes of the Community magazine, he was a recipient of a 2016 Dorothy Wright award from San Jose State University, and he was Mt. Pleasant High School’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.

Mark Holston has been teaching English at Mt. Pleasant for more than 17 years.  He has earned a B.A. in English and a Maters Degree in Educational  Leadership, and preliminary administrative credential from San Jose State University.  In 2016, Mr. Holston completed a fellowship at Yale University.

Mr. Holston is a fervent believer in the economic and intellectual transformative qualities of higher education, and as a result is a passionate advocate for helping students get accepted college and preparing students to be successful once they have been admitted into college.  This commitment to Mt. Pleasant students’ higher education has lead to his developing an SAT Language and Writing course, a course that he has taught for over 12 years.  He is also an advisor for the Cardinal Writing Center, an after school tutorial center in which students receive one on one assistance with their writing.

 Cheri Wilkerson received an A.A. from Evergreen Valley Community College, and then a B.A. in English and a minor in dance from San Jose State University, and is currently teaching ELD 1, ERWC, and English 1 here at Mount Pleasant High School.  In the fall of 2014 Ms. Wilkerson was placed at MP as Mr. Lovato’s student teacher. That year she finished her teaching credential through San Jose State University, and fell in love with the energy and culture of Mount Pleasant High School. Upon completing her credential she was hired at MP, and was grateful to stay at a school she already considered home.  A strong advocate for collaborative and social learning, she involves students in a variety of common core activities, including technology-infused projects that provide them with opportunities to problem solve and think creatively. Her professional interests focus on student centered, cooperative learning. Currently Ms. Wilkerson is working to clear her English credential by completing her BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment) Induction. In addition she serves as the Mount Pleasant JV and Varsity Cheerleading Coach. Her team also travels and competes throughout California, and hosts multiple events throughout the year to involve and support the community. She is currently the class advisor for the class of 2017, and is looking forward to helping the officers plan graduation and prom. Her future goals include returning to school to earn a M.A. in Education.

 Nguyen Pham

Teaching Experience: 28 years

Degree(s) / Certifications:  BA Linguistics - University of Colorado-Boulder, MA Education - San Jose State University, Secondary Credentials: English, Learning Disabilities, BCLAD Teaching Credential

Subjects Taught: English 1, 2, 2 Honors, 4, ELD 3, Read 180

Other Duties / Responsibilities: Supporting the Counseling staff with the Vietnamese Parent Workshops and Trainings

I am very fortunate to be able to work with young adults for so many years. I particularly enjoy teaching younger students because they are so energetic and enthusiastic about everything. Student diversity, personal interests, and academic challenges are my daily concerns, but student’s success is the ultimate goal. I hope that I can help students not only learn academic skills but also appreciate who they are and how they can contribute to their own family and community.

Elizabeth del Real received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Santa Clara University and is currently teaching English 3 and ELD 3 at Mt. Pleasant High School in San Jose, CA.  Elizabeth’s focus in her teaching is in the power of words and strives for students to understand the importance of effective communication through writing and public speaking.  Elizabeth’s love of poetry is what led her to this profession, along the love of helping others.  As important as teaching writing, reading and speaking is, so is the well-being of each of her students.  Elizabeth strives to open the eyes of her students that are blind to their potential and remind them that all of their dreams are obtainable.  While being compassionate to the individual world of each student, she also believes in a student’s personal responsibility, and as their teacher, she’s only be a guide throughout their learning process and exploration.   Elizabeth believes in using technology daily in order to prepare her students for life in college or working in Silicon Valley.   She reminds her students that they live in the technology-hub of the world, and they have many opportunities available to them, literally, down the road.  As an educator of high school youth, Elizabeth stresses the importance and uniqueness of each individual, our young adults who will soon be off in the world making decisions for the rest of us.  

Christina Garcia

Christina Garcia has been an employee of East Side Union High School District for over 12 years.  In 2011, Mrs. Garcia earned a B.A. in English from National University, and is currently teaching Basic English in the Special Education Department at Mt. Pleasant H.S.  As a product of East Side, Mrs. Garcia found her passion working with students from her own community, who, despite their individual challenges, have a desire to succeed.  Mrs. Garcia’s class offers a smaller learning environment where she engages her students in activities that promote a desire for achievement, independence, and an appreciation for learning.  Along with short stories, novels, and real world topics, Mrs. Garcia uses technology and various instructional strategies to meet each of her student’s needs, including cooperative learning, kinesthetic/tactile methods, and one on one assistance.  Her most valued experiences include getting to know her students on a personal level and watching the pride grow in their smiles when they have mastered a new skill. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Garcia is a case manager for up to 26 students each year, where she helps individualize an education plan that will help her students be successful high school graduates and allow them to thrive in a competitive work force after high school.  

 Lauri Wheeler. Unlike most of her colleagues, Lauri Wheeler started college at 36 as a single parent with three sons. Despite full-time work and school, she was West Valley College’s Valedictorian in 1999, graduating with a 4.0. GPA.  She then received a B.A. in English from San Jose State University, and her M.A. in Education from the University of Phoenix. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 3.98 GPA, and her student teaching led her to ESUHSD.  She has been with Mt. Pleasant High School for the past eleven years, and currently teaches English 1 and Genres of Composition. With a strong affinity for working with struggling teens, she meets her students right where they are, offering up life coping skills along with Common Core English. With a heartfelt belief in the concept that emotional healing is central to learning, Lauri provides a safe and loving environment that facilitates this healing for her students. Her professional interests focus on creative approaches to bridging the learning gaps that affect reading and writing skills, as well as how to develop and maintain connected classroom communities who support each other’s growth.  In addition, she is a Safe School Ambassador and a Grizzly Academy Mentor. She is also is the process of writing her first book, a memoir.

Debra Robinson

Teaching Experience: 14 years


BA English, BCLAD Teaching Credential, MA Education,
            Administrative Teaching Credential

Subjects Taught:  English 1, 3, IV, Mass Media/Genres of Composition, ERWC,

            Debate & Public Policy, Speech Communications

Other Duties/Responsibilities:  Co-Director of Cardinal Writing Center; ERWC Workshop Leader,

            Program Coordinator - ProjectWORD

Teaching is my passion.  For ten months out of the year, my primary focus is your student’s success.  Mt. Pleasant has been my home, as well as my training ground, and it has allowed me to assess and analyze students’ academic needs in order to create a standards-based curriculum that continues to stimulate their intellectual growth and abilities.

As a mother and grandmother, I understand the importance of establishing a strong academic foundation for our children, and I am here to work with you to ensure your student is prepared for wherever life takes them.

Joseph Frankina received his Bachelor of Arts in English from San José State University and teaching credential from The National Hispanic University; he is currently teaching English 1, English 2, and English 1 Engineering Pathway Support at Mt. Pleasant High School. A strong advocate for differentiated, data-driven instruction to ensure that each child achieves within a rigorous educational environment, he involves his students in activities that prove to be both captivating and relevant to their lives. His professional interests include writing and studying grammar, British literature, and poetry and his current projects include publishing online articles and blogs. He is an alumni member of the Tau Delta Phi Honors Society at San José State University and the recipient of the Rising Star Award for an article on writing poetry that he published titled “Alternatives to Rhyme for Poetry”. In addition, he serves as the head coach for the wrestling team and advisor for the Literary Society.

Raven Sisco received her Bachelor of Arts in English Education from San Jose State University; she is currently teaching ERWC, English Language Development 2, and English 1 at Mt. Pleasant High School. A strong advocate for socioemotional learning and maintaining growth mindsets in high school students, she involves her students in activities that connect themes in literature to their daily lives. Her professional interests include Middle/Old English, poetry, and grammar, and her current projects include publishing her own poetry in literary magazines across the United States and internationally. In addition, she serves as the head coach for the Junior Varsity Girls Volleyball team, the advisor for Literary Society, and the advisor for the Stress Management Club. She was recently honored with the Lurie College of Education Co-teaching Scholarship from San Jose State University for her contributions as a student teacher at MPHS during the 2015-16 school year.

 Gary Walter received his Bachelor’s Degree in English from San Jose State University and is currently teaching Advanced Placement Literature, AVID 3, and English 3 at Mount Pleasant High School. He is a proud member of  the MPHS graduating class of 1994, and believes that the students of MPHS have a wealth of knowledge, personal experiences, and potential that make them ideal students to teach.  He says, “I have seen MPHS students rival students intellectually from the so-called “elite” high schools.” He continues with, “Mount Pleasant students are not only driven academically, but come from hard-working families who have a strong sense of community and understand what means to be a Cardinal.” He was the recipient of the distinguished Dorothy Wright teaching award at San Jose State University. Mr. Walter continues to live in the community where he grew up, and he considers it a passion and honor to teach at Mount Pleasant High School.