Student Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Forsyth


Mr. Forsyth standing outside of his classroom right before third period on Friday, December 6. Photo Courtesy of Vibhash “Al” Devanathan.

Vibhash “Big Al” Devanathan, Writer

For the last quarter, West High has given aspiring educators the opportunity to shadow teachers on campus as well as teach classes with the support of a certified teacher. Mr. Forsyth shares his experiences and why he chose to pursue the path of becoming an instructor. 

Q: What did you do before teaching and for how many years?

A: I had a 20-year career in Russian book publishing before becoming a teacher. My work was to find the best US and English language books and buy the rights to translate and publish them in Russia. I lived in Moscow for about ten years and then commuted to Moscow from Los Angeles every six weeks for another ten years. When that became politically impossible, because the Russian government no longer wanted to import American books or ideas, that career ended. 

Q: What made you switch to teaching?

A: My mother was a teacher, and my sister is a teacher, and for twenty years people have been telling me that I should be a teacher, so I finally listened to them and entered the CSULB credential program. Also, I realized about twenty years out of high school how much more my teachers knew than I thought they knew while I was in high school…

Q: What kind of qualifications did you have for your old job?

A: I knew from the time I was in high school that I wanted to have a career involving Russia, because at that time Russia was our enemy and because few Americans really understood it. So I first went to Russia when I was 20, in college, as one of the first US students to live with a Soviet family on a study abroad program. I knew a lot less Russian than I should have at that point, and so I had to learn the language on the ground. Academically, I have a BA in Soviet Studies from Claremont McKenna College and an MBA from UCLA.

Q: What periods and classes do you teach in our school?

A: I teach US History under Mr. Belcher’s expert guidance periods 2 and 4, and Economics under the watchful eye of Mrs. Cerda period 5.

Q: Finally what has your experience been like in West?

A: This has been an amazing experience for me and I’ve learned an immense amount. Mrs. Cerda and Mr. Belcher have been trying to teach me behind the scenes, and have definitely improved my understanding of how to be an effective teacher. I’ve also really appreciated getting to know the students here, you are an amazing bunch and I have learned so much from all of you. Whenever you get a chance to do an internship or practice in some career, take that chance: there’s no better way to learn what the reality will be like. I’d also like to thank my partners in crime at the woodshop for all their help cutting tennis balls.