Where Pali Teachers are From and How They Got Here


Henry Mueller, Staff Writer

Palisades Charter High School is home to students of different races, religions and sexual orientations, who come from more than 100 different zip codes. But, what about the teachers? Who are they and where are they from?

Ms. Randy Tenan-Snow, Traveler
English teacher Randy Tenan-Snow faced many struggles in her teen years. When Tenan-Snow was in high school, she ran away from her home in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles and traveled to Hawaii with her girlfriend. Tenan-Snow lived with her girlfriend’s aunt during the summer before 11th grade, and during this time, she embarked on “wild experiences, protests, and adventures.” With the support of her girlfriend’s aunt, she was able to identify a new direction for her life. She graduated from Kalani High School in Oahu before returning to the mainland and attending UC Berkeley.
After graduating, she pursued her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. From the age of five, she dreamed about writing on a chalkboard and playing music for her class. Tenan-Snow says being an English teacher provides her with an opportunity to “share [her] love of reading” with her students.

Mr. Christopher Berry, Stage Diver
Similar to Tenan-Snow, history teacher Christopher Berry was born in Los Angeles and his teenage years were all but typical. Growing up in the South Bay, Berry embraced punk rock music and has been attending shows ever since. He says the attitude of the genre was empowering and had a positive influence on him and his friends.
Berry’s obsession continued when he went to UC Santa Cruz. There, he lived in a “punk house” where members held performances for large crowds in their living room. He says, “Our neighbors hated us, and the Santa Cruz police knew us well.”
Reminiscing about some of his wild experiences at shows, Berry recalls, “Someone did a stage dive and landed feet-first on my face [which] broke my nose and a month later at another show, someone’s head hit my nose again and knocked it back into place.” At another show, he tried to grab a microphone while the Swing Kids were performing and remembers someone pulling him down, causing his feet to flip up into the air. A picture of that moment actually ended up on the cover of the band’s album.
Eventually, Berry found his calling as a history teacher. Before coming to teach at Pali in 2014, Berry taught AP U.S. History at City Honors High School in Inglewood. Although there were challenges with teaching at an underfunded school, such as having to photocopy the one history textbook that the school supplied, his students still managed to exceed the national AP exam average.
“There’s a lot to like about Pali and I’ve had a great experience here,” Berry said. “My department is awesome! I love how motivated and positive the students are.”

Ms. Lucia Rovetta, Italian Fashionista
Italian teacher Lucia Rovetta was born and raised in Milan, Italy. Rovetta says that the Italian school system is more rigorous than that of the United States. In Italy, high school is five years long and culminates with a mandatory six-day exam called “La Maturita” which still gives Rovetta nightmares.
While Rovetta thinks that “teenagers are the same all around the world,” she believes the Italian school culture is different because high school-aged Italians are “more fashionable” and they don’t “show up [to school] in their pajamas.”
After her years at school in Italy, Rovetta embraced the opportunity to teach Italian for a year at Scripps College. Through her experiences at Scripps, she discovered that she liked to teach Italian and eventually, she landed a job at Pali.

Mr. Bradley Kolavo, World Traveler
Special Education and business teacher Bradley Kolavo says his teaching methods are rooted in his childhood education experiences. After living in Korea, Kolavo moved to America in the second grade. With the help of his teacher, he “learned English right away and had no real learning difficulties after that.” Throughout his years of schooling, Kolavo gained an appreciation for certain teachers “because of their calm teaching styles and witty personalities” and he says he has mirrored these qualities to the best of his ability. Because of his background, Kolavo says that he always expects the best from his students and wants them to “try, work hard and learn from their mistakes.”
In the last year, Kolavo traveled to Hong Kong and several other cities in Vietnam and Thailand. After a short break back in L.A, he was back on his way to Scotland, London, Rhodes, Mykonos, Athens Greece and finally Paris.
“I have zero regrets,” Kolavo says. “I loved meeting new people, discovering new places and being outside in this beautiful weather.”