Shark Stories: Mrs. Linda Abuah


William Frost, Staff Writer

Mrs. Abuah teaches world history at Santiago High School. She is originally from Nigeria. She goes to parties with her Nigerian friends whenever she can.

Q – How long ago did you come to the United States?
“To Stay? Since 1979.”

Q – Did you come to go to college?
“Yes, my whole family came, a total migration.”

Q – What made you want to be a teacher?
“Teaching was not my first choice. Teaching was my second career, my first career move was to become an FBI agent! Really, that’s what I wanted to do. I went to school, I studied political science, I studied national security studies, and that’s what got me into Secret Service, CIA, FBI kinda thing, but then I got married and before you know it I had a baby and that was it.”

Q – What made you want to teach history?
“History was kind of a natural transition for me because I’ve always loved stories. I grew up in a family of storytellers, Africans are known for their storytelling and their oral traditions, and it just seemed natural to me and I had the passion for it.”

Q – Do you have a historical figure that you admire or look up to?
“If I had to pick one, I would pick the first Israeli Female Prime Minister. She was…I’m trying to remember her name now…Golda Meir. She was the first Israeli female Prime Minister. I learned about her…back in the good old days in elementary we had current event class, and the nun that was my teacher in that class had us read an article about her. I was so impressed by how she fought for Israel. At one point, she went on a secret mission and she had to dress, because at that point if you were a woman you didn’t have freedom of movement, so she disguised herself as a man, and this was like in Iraq or Iran. I thought that was the coolest thing.”

Q – You are well known for your unorthodox teaching methods. Why have you chosen to teach this way?
“My teaching is very organic, meaning, that there are no limits. I can’t say that because we’re in high school we can’t do blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The reason is I belong to some associations, some very unorthodox associations, they’re not illegal, they’re made of teachers, teachers that want to do things that are not just in the standards anymore, because they are feeling that, to prepare students for the 21st century, we need to teach them a little bit different.”

Q – Do you have a favorite story of teaching?
“Do I have a favorite story of teaching? It’s more of an inspirational kinda thing, and I don’t remember what year it was. I had a student who would never talk, sit right up in the front, but never talk, but when she turned in her essays, that was when I used to have them write a lot of essays, I would be like ‘Dang! Did they write this?’ When I know her to be a very quiet student and she writes a very strong argumentative essay, it’s almost like a lawyer was speaking to me. Very precise and very rich essay. So I heard about a program, through Stanford for students who wanted to participate in civic legal studies, so I recommended her. By then she was no longer in my class, she was a Junior. It was for students from 9-12 grade. But, I recommended her anyway. They got in touch with her and she came back the next year and said ‘Oh my God, Mrs. Abuah we spent a summer at Stanford, and they told us all about how government works and our job as citizens’ and she said ‘It was just like being in your class. Can I come to your 10th grade class and talk to the students?’ I said ‘Yeah’. She came into 4th period and she talked to the students, and brought pictures and gave a great 2 minute speech, so that is my favorite story.”

Q – Last Question – can I get an invite to a Nigerian Party?
“Will! You have to be 18!”

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