Sixth Grade

In Sixth Grade we DISCOVER

In sixth grade, we discover how an education in Thomas Starr King’s Environmental STEAM Magnet can be an exciting and enriching experience for students, teachers, and the entire school community. This thematic approach can help students develop a deep understanding of the environment, foster a sense of curiosity, and encourage critical thinking. Throughout the year, students are encouraged to participate in interdisciplinary learning, collaboration, and creativity with their peers. We also invite guest speakers, experts, and artists to inspire and engage the students. An emphasis is placed on the importance of real-world applications of STEAM knowledge in solving environmental challenges.

Amy Chen

Math, History, Mandarin

I have been teaching at King since 2017. I attended UC Irvine for my Bachelor’s degree, CSUN for my teaching credential, and USC for my master’s degree in teaching. I am originally from Maryland but have been living in Southern CA for the last 30 plus years. I love to travel and try new foods. I have a senior cat named Bates who I spoil a lot. Currently, I’m teaching 6th grade math, history, and Mandarin. Teaching Mandarin has been a joy because of how enthusiastic my students are about learning a new language. I’m also the advisor of Earth Savers, a club that strives to solve environmental issues at our school and beyond.

The best book I read in middle school: Anne of Green Gables
My favorite band in middle school: The Offspring
My favorite place to spend time outdoors is: Ernest Debs
When I’m not at school, you can find me: Hanging out with my cat
Fun fact: I played drums in high school

Ms. Chen’s Classroom Information

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Anna Soffer

English, Science, Los Angeles History

I earned my Bachelor of Arts and teaching credential from Loyola Marymount University in 2015 and have been in the classroom ever since. I also completed a Master of Arts in School Leadership and a school administrative credential at Cal State Dominguez Hills (go toros). During my time at LMU, I hosted a radio show on KXLU 88.9 FM for four years. Music still holds a special place in my heart, and now I listen to music, collect records, go to shows, and play my guitar and flute whenever I can. As a teacher, my mission is to inspire joy in learning through civic engagement, social-emotional learning, and the arts. I've flexed my teaching muscles at the California Science Center and cooked up some curriculum for the Friends of the Los Angeles River. As a native Angeleno, Los Angeles history is my passion, and I’m lucky that I get to teach this elective to 6th graders at King. Beyond the classroom, you can find me camping, grilling, jet-setting, snapping pics, and diving into SoCal's quirky roadside attractions. Back home, Crouton and Bandit, my dynamic feline duo, rule the roost. I'm also a proud founding member of the LA Buffet Club. Time will tell what will come of our group, but things aren't looking great.

The best book I read in middle school: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
My favorite band in middle school: Green Day
My favorite place to spend time outdoors is: Sequoia National Park
When I’m not at school, you can find me: Finding old Los Angeles

Ms. Soffer’s Classroom Information

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Veronica Gardea

English, History, Marine Biology, ELD

I am a native Angeleno born and raised in Southern California. I have been associated with LAUSD since 1975, where I started as a student, then worked as a teacher assistant, and now as a teacher. I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration/Finance from CSULA, and later acquired a teaching credential and master's from National University. I also hold a Specialized Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education from UC San Diego. I started my teaching career at Mayberry Street Elementary, the same school I attended as a child, and then moved to Thomas Starr King Middle School ESM. It was challenging, yet rewarding, to return to my junior high school as a teacher. My father instilled a love for education and nature, and I try to do the same for my students by reminding them to read daily and protect and respect Mother Earth. I consider my students as my own children, and I am committed to providing them with a safe and empowering learning environment where they can succeed. I have one child a fur baby who I recently adopted  named Dakota, who loves going on road trips with me. Currently, I teach 6th grade English, ancient civilizations, and marine biology at the Environmental Steam Magnet, which I consider my home.

The best book I read in middle school: Animal Farm by George Orwell
My favorite band in middle school: Depeche Mode
My favorite place to spend time outdoors is: Lone Pine, Lower Sierras
When I’m not at school, you can find me: Taking road trips with my dog
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received: “Tu educacion es algo que nadie te puede quitar.” (Your education is something no one can take away.) -My dad
Fun fact: In my younger years, I completed seven marathons in Los Angeles and San Diego

Ms. Gardea’s Classroom Information

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Sonja Williams

Math, Science, Journalism

I have been teaching 6th grade since 2000. I have a B.A. in History from U.C. Santa Barbara and a Master’s in Urban School Administration. Most recently, I received a certificate in Biomimicry Education from the Learn Biomimicry Institute in 2022, and have been incorporating Biomimicry into my science curriculum ever since. I love all things outdoors, including hiking, cycling, kayaking, and exploring. In the summers I solo-explore in my truck visiting friends and making new ones all over North America. I co-founded and ran  an outdoor education  program based on nature connection, and I took middle and high school students hiking, backpacking and camping in The Angeles Forest, Mono Lake Ca. and Morro Bay, CA. In 2014, I designed and started the garden program at Carver Middle School, now run by Carver Alumni and Rootdown L.A. My goal as a teacher is to help kids learn to question current systems, and lead with solutions that benefit the planet and its inhabitants. I love learning.

My favorite band in middle school: Devo
My favorite place to spend time outdoors is: The Angeles Forest
When I’m not at school, you can find me: OUTSIDE
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received: “Never miss an opportunity to take the initiative.” -My father

Ms. William's Classroom Information

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Rebecca Mitsuse

English, Science, and Garden Science

I, like many who live in SoCal, am a transplant. I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, living in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. I received my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from George Washington University. A year after graduating, I bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles and never looked back. I worked in the Student Loan Office at UCLA for ten years, helping students understand their financial aid and to budget their money.  While working there, I went to Cal State Northridge to get my teaching credential. I also received my masters in Educational Administration at Cal State Northridge. I have been working at King since 2003. I love being a part of the Environmental STEAM Magnet and having the opportunity to work with a group of exceptional educators.

The best book I read in middle school: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
My favorite song in middle school:
Get Down On It by Cool & The Gang
My favorite place to spend time outdoors is: My garden or the mountain trails near my home
When I’m not at school, you can find me: Cooking, reading, or at my son’s basketball game

Ms. Mitsuse’s Classroom Information

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William Page

William Page

Math, Ancient History, Climate Change in Los Angeles

Greetings ESM families,

I'm a proud native of Los Angeles, born just down the street from King Middle School at Kaiser Sunset, where my daughter, an ESM student, was also born. Except for my time at San Francisco State University and a year in Tucson, Arizona, Los Angeles has always been my home. Outside of the school environment, I find joy in cooking, exploring new places, immersing myself in different cultures, volunteering, and advocating for my union. My teaching journey began in 2007, and throughout my entire career I have been dedicated to middle school education in LAUSD, including my time at King beginning in 2011. I've covered all core subjects for sixth graders, taught seventh-grade math and science, and eighth-grade English. Additionally, I had the privilege of serving our King community as an Instructional Technology Coach for four years. At present, I'm thrilled to be teaching my two favorite subjects, math and history. Moreover, I lead an elective that delves into the impact of climate change on our city's communities and nature. This class holds a special place in my heart as I view it as a crucial introduction for the young stewards of our planet. My hope is that they take the knowledge gained during their time here at King's Environmental STEAM Magnet and contribute to positive changes for a better future.

The best book I read in middle school: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
My favorite band in middle school:
INXS
My favorite place to spend time outdoors is: Zion National Forest
When I’m not at school, you can find me: Having time with family, or supporting my union siblings
Fun fact: I spent six months as a migrant farm worker in Wales

Mr. Page’s Classroom Information

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6th GRADE