Valley Vista High’s Brandon Futagaki honored as district Teacher of the Year

Brandon Futagaki, center, is in his 17th year as a teacher at Valley View High School in Fountain Valley.
Brandon Futagaki, center, is in his 17th year as a teacher at Valley View High School in Fountain Valley. Also pictured are HBUHSD Supt. Clint Harwick, center left, and Valley View High Principal Jessie Marion, center right.
(Courtesy of Huntington Beach Unified School District)

Teaching is a passion in the Futagaki household.

Brandon Futagaki is a physical education teacher at Valley Vista High in Fountain Valley, while his wife, Amy, teaches English at Fountain Valley High.

When Brandon saw Amy on campus at Valley Vista one morning last week, he knew something was up. That something was a big honor for him.

Brandon Futagaki has been named one of two Huntington Beach Union High School District Teachers of the Year for the upcoming 2022-23 school year. The district’s other Teacher of the Year is Huy Pham, a science teacher at Westminster High.

Futagaki, 46, is in his 17th year teaching at Valley Vista. He’s taught a wide range of classes over the years at the continuation school and currently guides students in health, physical education, weight training and cinematic arts.

The campus has a small weight room and Futagaki started a weight training program, first informally over their lunch period before it became a formal class. Weight training is also now taught in Valley Vista’s after-school credit recovery program.

“The idea became more prevalent over COVID, when I was doing home workouts with the kids,” Futagaki said. “We had to flip on our video screens and do jumping jacks. I actually started a home gym at my house, and I found there was an interest in this. My class was about teaching the basics of weight training, so you can go in the gym and be comfortable and learn the basics of it, while incorporating health and the core P.E. values that we have.”

Futagaki said his cinematic arts class teaches students about how movies are made and about different genres.

“It starts off with the history, and throughout each unit I cover score, editing, cinematography, sound and music,” he said. “Each week we cover a different genre. Right now we’re covering the crime genre, but we’ve covered Westerns, war, black and white, science fiction, comedy. Everyone loves movies, but the perspective that you get is so different from everyone. I like that aspect of it. We’re able to have conversations about stuff.

“Hopefully, after taking my classes, the kids will be able to tell me why it was a good movie. I’m trying to teach them how to critique a movie, without just saying it’s good or bad, but tell why.”

Teacher of the Year is awarded to individuals who exemplify dedication, practice effective instruction methods and have an overall passion for the art of educating students. Valley View Principal Dr. Jessie Marion, in his first year with the Eagles after previously holding the same position at Marina High, has seen those attributes in Futagaki.

“Brandon’s personality and positive attitude are infectious,” Marion said. “He is passionate about teaching the students at Valley Vista and working hard to ensure their success. Brandon will literally do anything for the staff or students, and he truly represents what makes Valley Vista such a great place to be.”

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