Social studies teacher Laurel Howard


Genna Bishop, Assistant Business Manager

Social studies teacher Laurel Howard, Gunn graduate, returned to Palo Alto in 2017 to teach at Gunn after graduating college.

When deciding her next move after college, Howard considered many options, but she ultimately decided to return and give back to the community in which she grew up, applying to work at Gunn. “When I was finish-
ing up my degrees and figuring out where I wanted to go next, Gunn had just hit the second wave of suicides, and there was a lot of discussion amongst my alumni friends about what we could do to support people as people who’ve been through similar experiences,” she said. “I [wanted to] go back because I really relate to the student body. It’s what can give back to this community.”

Returning to Gunn in 2017, Howard compares her experiences as a student and as a teacher. “It’s a very similar culture. I remember a lot of the same; everyone was involved in everything and everyone was really challenging themselves,” she said. “It’s a culture that really celebrates a lot of student accomplishments in a way that a lot of other schools don’t, especially academic accomplishments. I have noticed that it has intensified a bit.”
Upon entering college, Howard felt Gunn prepared her well. “It prepared me super well for college and I found a lot of pressure lifted when I left here,” she said.

In addition to teaching at her old school, Howard also gets to teach alongside her previous Advanced Placement United States History teacher Chris Johnson. When looking back at her times at Gunn, Howard recognizes the differences. “One thing I noticed coming back was that there is a significantly lighterworkload,” she said. “We use a lot more discussion-based focus, and this year, we are [implementing] a lot more changes into the grading structure. I’m really excited about our revision policy.”

Howard advises students to know that it is okay to not know exactly what they want to do in the future. “I know we’ve created this game where we tell you that your value is how well you do and we tell you that you have to try really hard to get into college, but it’s really not make it or break it like the way we portray it to you,” she said. “So take a deep breath and know that there are always other options for you if the path you initially take doesn’t work out for you.”