Jason Su: Guitar player, video gamer and mathematician


Lexi Noguera

Jason Su teaching his fifth period Math lll CP class.

La Quinta High School has welcomed a new math teacher and he’s prepared to experience his first year of educating high school students.

Jason Su was excited to begin a new fresh start at LQHS after teaching 8th and 9th grade math and robotics at Cahuilla Desert Academy for 11 years. 

“I was looking for change and with the pandemic, I needed a break, so it [the pandemic] kind of gave me an excuse to take a break,” Su said. 

Su needed to search for ways to make his life easier as it felt like things were becoming too complicated at school, leading to a break off of work during the 2020-2021 school year.

During that time, he took the time to reflect on himself, with a focus on his physical and mental health, in order to get back on track.

“It takes time to enjoy and try the things I used to enjoy, to take care of my physical and mental health, so I ate better and exercised a bit more,” he said.

Prior to becoming a math teacher, Su graduated from Fountain Valley High School, in 2000 in Orange County. He then attended UCLA, where he studied electrical engineering for three years.

“I switched majors to cognitive science. I decided that I wasn’t that interested in electrical engineering. I wanted to teach instead,” Su said. “Cognitive science is a combination of psychology, computer science and some math. It talks about how people learn and how the computer is like the [human] brain.”

In 2006, Su graduated university and earned his bachelor’s degree in science and cognitive science. He then attended UC Irvine to pursue graduate school. 

“My single subject math credential which allows me to teach middle school and high school math. I earned my master’s degree in secondary education,” he said.

Just like Su is new to teaching at LQHS, he’s also new to teaching high school students and new curriculums, like Math III CP and IB Math. 

“It’s a little bit easier to manage a classroom, students are more mature. There’s less of them to turn around and talk to friends. What I’m also seeing is when students are not engaged, they put their head down. But at the very least, they allow me to teach so I appreciate that,” Su said. 

Through teaching older students, Su has undergone a lot of change while having to teach a new curriculum and come up with different ways to practice with students rather than teaching the lessons he’s taught in his previous years.

“A new curriculum was exciting because I’ve been teaching the same stuff for many years and now I get to try something new. I get another opportunity to try and think about how to present that information and build more tools with it to help students learn with it too,” he said. 

Su has learned that it can be stressful having to adapt to new ways of teaching and the materials, but it’s also refreshing since he goes through a learning process of his own and gets to experience with students.

“I have to look at what the other teachers [in the math department] are doing and adopt their materials or make sure my materials are in line with their materials,” he said. 

Su feels very welcomed and supported through collaboration by the people around the school. 

“There’s a lot of collaboration with the math teachers in my wing. We talk about where we are in the pacing and what everyone’s doing. We also share assignments, sometimes one person makes the assignment and shares it with everybody, and so, that’s less work for me,” Su said. 

Inside his classroom, Su lets his creativity take advantage of the way he controls and presents his materials to students in his classes. 

“I enjoy seeing their [students’] progress and being more creative about it. Instead of following the book, I think of ways to present it that makes more sense or simpler for students to understand,” he said.

One of Su’s ways of teaching is using technology and usually computer programming, while he gets used to the ways of teaching the new materials in his class.

“I use the computer and my tablet to present. With this, I have the problems ahead of time and be able to just be right on top of it. Normally I do programming too, but because this is new for me teaching a lot of stuff, I haven’t been able to though I usually would try to program stuff,” he said.

Around the nature of his students, Su tries his best to reach everyone’s needs in the class and having students engage by making sure they’re comfortable to ask questions about the math he’s teaching in class.

Su assures his students that they’re able to ask questions and never have to feel like they’re embarrassing themselves, as it’s his job to be professional while working with students who are on different levels.

“When someone asks a question, I try my best to be thorough with it and I thank them for asking the question. I’m glad they asked that and didn’t just ignore it to keep going without them understanding. Also, there might be other people who have the same question,” Su said. 

As students feel more comfortable in his class, he hopes to see progress in his students while they become more confident in their work.

That’s what I dedicate my life to, instead of making money. I’m focused on trying to be a good teacher here.

— Jason Su

“I want them to not have to rely on copying homework from people and being able to feel like they can do it on their own. It’s just better to do the work and try to learn on their own while being able to be safe to do that in my classroom,” Su said.

A student enrolled in his Math III CP class, Kitzia Arreola ‘23, shared his experience while being in Su’s class. He’s noticed Su’s calm atmosphere and fair method of teaching in his class.

“My past math teachers would teach too fast and he actually takes his time to explain. He asks multiple times if he wants us to explain it again [the math problem]. He’s a cool, fun teacher. He’s not strict and understands us. I love that class because it’s probably my favorite class,” Arreola said. 

Outside of teaching, Su has numerous interests like playing guitar, singing, playing video games, programming and also music. 

“I like playing Minecraft and Valheim is another one that I enjoy. Music is another of my hobbies, playing guitar and singing. Also, I’ve picked up learning some drums at least with my feet during my break,” Su said. 

While playing guitar, Su began with Disney music then began to diversify the different types of music he plays on his guitar. 

“I started with Disney, but then I also did jazz songs and then I moved onto Broadway. I started getting more into some pop music and lately I’ve been doing Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder songs,” he said. 

Before becoming a math teacher, Su’s decision to become a teacher never occurred to him until he was tutoring for his classmates in high school who suggested that he should consider teaching.

They mention his current teaching method of going through step by step with problems and notice his patience while teaching something new to someone.

“That was always in the back of my mind. When electrical engineering was getting difficult, I was thinking that I’d like to do teaching,” Su said.

While wanting to become a teacher, Su realizes that he enjoys working with kids and didn’t think he needed that much money. He knows that becoming a teacher allows him to use his other talents apart from his jobs, like programming and music.

“I can use programming to program problems or demos that might be more to help students see more complex relationships in math. It’s also music that can help develop a more interesting relationship with students,” Su said. 

While building meaningful relationships with students means a lot to Su, he tries his best to show he’s dedicated and loyal to his students. He wants to present himself as a nice teacher and be there for his students.

“I’m there for you guys,” he said. I’m here after school and lunch for everybody to give [my students] opportunities to make up homework and tests. That’s what I dedicate my life to, instead of making money. I’m focused on trying to be a good teacher here,” Su said.