Creative Writing Teacher Mr. Jason Closes Out Final Chapter at UC High



Mr. Mike Jason assists Student Nathan Fishman during class.

Vanessa Jaquish, Staff Writer

This June, the sun will set on the Class of 2023’s time at UC High, but a new one will rise in its place as they begin their journeys to college, careers, and everywhere in between. However, it is not just students who will be boarding the ship called Future this summer. Beloved English and Writers’ Workshop Teacher Michael Jason has planned to retire after an astounding 33 years at UC High.

This school year, Jason has only been teaching three periods of Writers’ Workshop as part of his “semi-retirement.” As to why he became a teacher, Jason said, “I blew out my left knee so I couldn’t play baseball anymore. I went to college, and then I started teaching a couple years in New York. And then I took five years off from teaching and went into the military. And that’s how [I] ended up in San Diego. And then in 1990, I started working at UC High and I’ve been here ever since.”

Jason opted for teaching English and Writers’ Workshop because of his academic background. He said, “[English] was my undergraduate degree. I’ve always been interested in literature, love literature, and as far as creative writing, Writer’s Workshop, that’s where I had my advanced degree. I have a Masters Degree in Creative Writing.” He received his Masters in Creative Writing from San Diego State University.

Mr.  Jason seems to be nearly synonymous with Writer’s Workshop itself. Every lecture he delivers, every poem he reads, every nit-picky critique he gives has part of his spirit within it. Any student who walks into his classroom can feel a sense of community and clearly see that he is a teacher who is truly and undeniably passionate about the subject he teaches (as well as for noir films and a painting called Nighthawks by Edward Hopper).

The UC High Writers’ Workshop class, which is one of the few left in the San Diego Unified School District, according to Jason, is all about getting students to express themselves through creative writing instead of writing boring, structured essays. Students are assigned prompts to write original fiction and poetry pieces, and are given the freedom to make it about anything they choose. Pieces are then shared and critiqued in groups of students before submitted for a grade. Students are free to write from anywhere in the room, including on the floor and even under their own desks. Other features of Jason’s classroom include a board to show off outstanding works, bookshelves of poems, novels, and dream interpretations, and a rack dedicated to providing low-income housing to multiple games of Scrabble.

Jason has unquestionably made a positive impact on his students. One of the many student writing and critique groups that was formed in his class this year is a coterie whose members refer to themselves as “The Dinkuses.” The members wished to remain anonymous for the sake of maintaining their group’s secrets, but greatly expressed their joy and appreciation for the class and Jason, for their coterie would not exist without them. One of the members said, “I will forever be grateful for taking Writer’s Workshop in my senior year. It has been a wonderful place where I can enjoy myself and pen away a story that had been sitting in my head for months. It’s a room where I can relax as I am surrounded by friends, all of us sitting in a corner, discussing the work we’re doing that week.” The member added, “Not only has Mr. Jason’s class given me the confidence to share my writing, it’s also where I found a new friend group, a cluster of students who love narrative and show it as we help and support each other.”

Senior Alex Ryno also shared her experience in the class, saying, “This class helped me enjoy creative writing more. Coming from Honors American Literature last year, this class felt like a breath of fresh air and a time where I could express myself through my writing instead of just talking about other people’s work all the time.” She added, “It has helped me learn how to use diction and language to its utmost, and also experiment more, and be less afraid of doing things unconventionally.”

When the graduating class takes part in their commencement ceremony, as the sun rises on their new journeys, it will also be time for another sun to rise for its new journey, too. Mr. Jason has no doubt left a bright mark on the UC High community, and his teachings, original poems, and humor will surely be missed. As for what he’s planning to do during his well-deserved retirement, he simply said, “Mrs. Jason hasn’t told me yet.”