With framed black and white photographs of navy ships resting on the window sill, a neat arrangement of pictures near a tidy desk, and the soundtrack of August Rush playing quietly from the upper left corner of the classroom, Rita Batch, Foothill’s new math teacher has tinted room E108 with her own unique, energetic flair.
“It’s been amazing,” Batch said regarding her first week. “I have said the word amazing more times than I can imagine. The kids have been enthusiastic and everyone’s been doing everything I asked of them, so I’ve felt very part of the community right from day one.”
Batch is teaching one class of BC calculus, two classes of AB calculus, and three Algebra II classes this school year.
Just in the first week, Batch is already known across campus as not only a passionate math teacher but also as a former nuclear engineer for the navy, a career that helped her realize how much she cherished teaching.
Before becoming a nuclear engineer, Batch spent her first tour as a missile systems officer, working on a base in Yokosuka, Japan, a location that she picked out herself.
“The reason I picked my first ship out to Japan was because I liked sushi. I knew I wanted to travel, and I loved sushi, so why not move to the place where they make really good sushi?” she said. “ I was on the ship in San Diego and we took the ship across the Pacific Ocean and moved to Japan.”
“The reason I picked my first ship out to Japan was because I liked sushi,” said new math teacher Rita Batch
On her second tour, Batch worked as a nuclear engineer on an aircraft carrier based in Virginia. She said that training to become a nuclear engineer was “the hardest intellectual work [she’d] ever done,” but being a nuclear engineer was “invigorating.” Batch directed a team of thirty-five people and worked to maintain nuclear power on the navy ship.
“When you work at a nuclear power plant on land, your goal is to keep the power going steady all the time, but when you’re on a ship, the power is changing all the time because the ship is speeding up and slowing down or they’re launching airplanes off the deck of the carrier, so that changes things a lot,” she explained.
“So things [were] changing all the time and things [were] breaking all the time and it was very dynamic and very challenging, but I had very amazing people working with me. Our team was very very tight and we did very well together.”
While leading her team, training people, and giving presentations on a wide range of subjects such as missile launching, Batch discovered her inner passion for teaching, no matter what the subject was.
Some time after leaving active duty in the navy, she took up a teaching position in a Pennsylvania high school, where she taught for six years before coming to Foothill.
Batch said that she may ride her Harley-Davidson motorcycle to school someday, and in her free time, she likes gardening and reading. Recently, she has also taken up mountain bike riding, encouraged by her husband.
“I love it,” she said of mountain bike riding, “ I’m not very good at it. I keep crashing. [My husband] bought me elbow and knee pads. I wear dresses and shirts all the time and I’ve got scars everywhere and many of them [are] from mountain biking.”
“You guys are very lucky because this culture here is golden,” said new math teacher Rita Batch.
In class, students have appreciated her dynamic teaching style and cheerful personality.
“She’s really enthusiastic about teaching and it makes me feel enthusiastic about the class,” BC calculus student, junior Ashley Amaladhas said. “ Calculus can be kind of daunting and she makes it seem like its possible, so I enjoy that.”
“Well, she has a very positive attitude, and is very purpose-driven. She figures out goals and goes straight for them,” senior David Gonzalez said.
Batch is proud to be apart of Foothill this year.
“When the school told us that we had to embrace the idea of the greatest school on earth- honestly, I’m amazed by this school. You guys are very fortunate and you can take it from somebody who has not only taught for six years at a different school which I love, but also last year I was subbing at many different schools,” she said. “ You guys are very lucky because this culture here is golden.”