Mr. Ly: Former Alumni Turns Teacher


Madeline Khoo

Mr. Ly poses with his infamous doorway rock to show his love for geology.

Madeline Khoo

Winter break has just ended and the students are dreading the start of second semester. The tests, the classwork, and the feeling of taking a final at the end of the semester all over again. In the midst of the scramble to get back into the school routine, Mr. Robert Ly, a drumline instructor for the Ayala Band and Color Guard program, also chooses to tackle the position of full-time Biology and Chemistry teacher here at Ayala High School. 

After being in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Mr. Ly was inspired to go after and pursue a new goal. Being a earth environmental science and anthropology major at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles], he was open to the idea of teaching biology and chemistry.

“I started my teaching credential at Cal Poly Pomona and after I finished my student teaching, I was wanting to become a sub,” said Mr. Ly. “But the teaching position opened and I thought that the door was open and I needed to get in right then and there.”

To the surprise of these Biology Honors and Chemistry students that had been consistently getting substitute teachers throughout the first semester of the 2021-22 school year, they were shocked to hear the news that the substitute standing in front of them would be their teacher from now on. 

“Right after Christmas break, we found out that our previous teacher had left and Mr. Ly would be taking her place,” a previous biology student, Bryant Huang (10) said. “He first prioritized getting to know us as individuals and that made him seem a lot more approachable.” 

Nonetheless, the introduction of a teacher had never been more seamless. 

“Mr. Ly’s class was my favorite class in freshman year,” biology student Klaren Suh (10) said. “I see him as a great teacher with a good sense of humor that makes the class fun and not boring.”

Prior to being a teacher, Mr. Ly may have been seen on campus as he is one of the drumline instructors here at Ayala. After being introduced to drumline by his older sister who was in color guard during his time at Ayala, he continued to pursue playing the drums as he went into college and graduated. 

“I am currently teaching three different [percussion] groups, the Canyon Hills Junior High, Ayala, and an independent organization called Dark Sky Percussion,” said Mr. Ly.

As for what is in store for the future, Mr. Ly is excited about the idea of possibly starting a geology class on campus. Being able to go on a field trip and discover the weathering of different rocks as he did in his college days, is one of the greatest hopes that he could provide his students with. 

“We would go out and take measurements of rocks like ‘oh, it’s dipping at this angle’ and we would learn how to look at rocks and identify minerals,” said Mr. Ly. 

Although he has only been teaching as a full-time teacher for a year now, the impact he has had on his students carries as look forward to the material they will learn each day. From making waffles for his students in class or having various projects to engage them into the topic they are learning, previous and current students only think highly of this fun and enthusiastic teacher. 

“I want to make sure that I am always invested in what’s happening in the classroom and I’m not just one of those teachers that sits at their desks,” said Mr. Ly.