Get To Know Your Coronado Teacher: Casey Tanaka - Coronado High School - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

Get To Know Your Coronado Teacher: Casey Tanaka - Coronado High School

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Posted: Friday, August 30, 2019 4:09 pm

A lot of people say that Coronado is paradise. But Coronado High School history teacher, Casey Tanka, lives it. When I first ask him what he had been doing over the summer for fun, he pauses. So, I ask how important travel is to him (something a lot of people do in summer). He says, “It’s not important. The reason I live in Coronado is because I like to spend my time here.”

That’s a bit of a big deal coming from someone who was born in Hawaii and spent his first seven years there.

Tanaka says that his first year in Coronado, he attended second grade. From that time on, he barely left. He took a bit of time away – he went to University of California San Diego for college. But he finished in three years, so he wasn’t away all that long.

Tanaka says he always knew he wanted to be a teacher in Coronado. And he first started teaching here full time after doing some substitute teaching in the district. As luck would have it, a history position came open just after he got his teaching credential at National University. He says, “When a job opens anywhere [for history or social studies], there are typically a lot of applicants … but at the same time it helped that people knew me.”

But back to how Tanaka spent his summer. The first thing that he mentions is a sideline of work that he is well-known for around town: weekly trivia at Mexican Village.

“It takes hours of time to prepare the questions,” he says. We discuss how many people don’t really appreciate the work that goes into it. He isn’t given a set of questions to ask. Rather, he prepares them himself. And he thinks about it carefully: “I tell people when I write a question, one of three things needs to be true. Either you feel like, ‘I know the answer.’ Or, ‘I ought to have known that.’ Or, you’re like ‘I didn’t know that at all, but I’m glad I know it now.’”

He also considers a variety of categories.“The nice thing about the summer is that I have more than enough time to do it.”

Tanaka says that this summer he added yet another side business to his portfolio that changed his schedule a bit: “I decided to play the stock market … that would require me to get up at 6:30 a.m. to at least take a look at where the market is.” He says he set a certain monetary goal – an amount of money that he would like to make each week to supplement his income. So, I ask how well he’s done: “I’ve been doing this since May so May and July, I had really good months. June, I had an ok month. And then until Uber’s negative quarterly report yesterday, I was really on track.” He doesn’t seem worried, though. He says, “My investment strategy is you just wait things out.” He also has a strategy of not getting too greedy: “Once a certain amount of gain has appreciated, I’m out.”

Something that keeps him optimistic about participating in the stock market, he says, is “[E]ven though yesterday and today didn’t go the way I wanted it, that can all change on Monday. You know, it’s not like Las Vegas. There, if something works or doesn’t work, it’s instantaneous. And it’s irrevocable.”

I push Tanaka to discuss exactly what he has done that is pure leisure this summer. He does mention that he took a week-long visit Maui, Hawaii. But he also points out, “I don’t like spending a lot of money if I can help it and travel inherently means doubling or tripling your expenses for some period of time. I don’t need to do that to be happy with how I spend my time.”

What Tanaka obviously really loves is life in Coronado. “I like that I can take my bike everywhere. Like for this meeting,” he says, pointing to his bike that is locked up in front of Tartine, where we are meeting, “Imagine that you could always have that parking space, you’d feel pretty privileged … I don’t understand why more people don’t take their bike everywhere.”

He also likes the flow of his life: “In general, I’m not trying to do anything on any given day in summer and whatever little things I’m trying to get done, I can just drift around.”

Other than that, he says, “Golf is the one dumb simple pleasure I have … it’s a great game once you get past that introductory period.”

But he points out that it’s easy to not enjoy it at times, partly depending on just how competitive you are. By way of reference, he tells me that, “when I was little, at some point my mom said she wouldn’t play Monopoly with me anymore because she said I take all of the fun out of it.” He says, “What makes golf fun is also what takes the fun away.” Nonetheless, he says, “I’m at peace with where I am on the golf course.”

With someone who has sampled so many ventures, it’s hard not to wonder what’s next for Tanaka. He surprises me by saying, “When I stopped being mayor, I knew that at some point I’d probably want to get back in [to politics] … when I left, I wasn’t looking to get back in right away … I knew at some point I’d be interested in getting back in. So, I now think I’m at that point.” He says he might run for council, “If a spot opens up … I would like to do it again.” But he won’t run against an incumbent council member because, he says, “I feel like we have made an investment in them and I don’t think they don’t deserve another term.” About the mayoral role he says he would have to believe that the incumbent doesn’t deserve another term (which he doesn’t currently feel) or if there weren’t another deserving candidate running: “I’ve had a chance to do it twice. A lot of people have had a chance to do it zero times … so I would have to modulate my decision based on that.”

That Tanaka might run for a position again soon is tantalizing. But, for now, we will have to wait and see. Nonetheless, for someone who is so industrious, it is obvious that there will be another venture.

It will be interesting, indeed, to see what it is.

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