California has continued its upward surge to become the seventh largest economy in the world. That’s great news for the Golden State and in particular cities like San Francisco, that contribute a significant portion of the state’s GDP. With a positive job outlook, the future seems especially hopeful for those who have obtained a California teaching credential, with thousands of open positions in San Francisco.  However, in order to excel, new educators can benefit by finding mentors or by gaining insightful advice from experts in the field, such as Soma Mei Sheng Frazier of Cogswell College.

(Photo Courtesy of Soma Mei Sheng Frazier)

(Photo Courtesy of Soma Mei Sheng Frazier)

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What’s your background and education?

“I grew up in rural New Hampshire, supplementing a basic public school education with whatever additional opportunities my mother’s income – or my own resourcefulness – could afford: Odyssey of the Mind, the St. Paul’s School Advanced Studies Program, the Governor’s Mentorship Program and a creative writing course that I finangled my way into auditing at Dartmouth College. After graduating high school, I attended Middlebury’s intensive summer immersion program in Japanese; earned a B.A. in Asian Studies at Pomona College and an M.F.A. in Writing at Sarah Lawrence College.”

What’s your area of specialty?

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“I specialize in English and creative writing, balancing my career as a Bay Area educator with my role as an award-winning author and active member of the literary community.”

What advice can you offer to someone interested in becoming an educator?

“Know your stuff. Balance the work of teaching with hands-on activity in your field: if you plan to teach in the sciences, for example, you needn’t be the next Nobel Prize winner – or even write scholarly articles – to engage with your subject. Instead, you might publish a blog about your road trips to leading-edge labs like the Sanford Underground Research Facility. Students and employers alike will be inspired by your interaction with the very concepts and experiments that drew you toward science yourself. They’ll recognize you as the real deal: someone with meaningful information to convey. And describing a subterranean lab where sensitive experiments are conducted in an old goldmine is a great way to grab attention before moving into scaffolded instruction about the nature of dark matter or the properties of neutrinos. In short, my advice is to become some sort of practitioner – exploding the tired stereotype that ‘those who can’t do, teach.'”

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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on