Originally published in La Plaza Press
By ISAAC MEJIA and ALISSON BERMUDEZ
As the end of the school year approaches, students and teachers are increasingly closer to emerging from a stressful year into a needed summer break. However, for some teachers, the end of the school year represents more than a sigh of relief, and possesses greater personal significance. For some, it represents the end of a long career, an era filled with many refining and fulfilling moments. While, for others, it represents the beginning of a new journey, promising both the thrill of opportunity and uncertainty. This year, many Redlands East Valley High School teachers have decided to retire or advance their career through new positions separate from the school. What are some of their final thoughts and what will they do next in this new chapter of their life?
With an empathetic nature and passion for mental health, Wendy Mcclung, the mental health careers and mind matters teacher will be leaving REV to work in an administrative position.
She will be moving to the district office at CRYROP where she will be “in charge of their online program.”
Although Mcclung is excited for “a chance to exercise [her] leadership skills and to grow as a teacher professionally,” she will miss her students dearly.
“They are why I do what I do, ” said Mcclung. I get to watch them grow and get to know them and watch them succeed and help them through struggles. You don’t get that one-on-one with them anymore.”
Mcclung’s genuine concern for her students’ well-being is a special gift: a gift that is not required, but one that she still possesses. As she leaves the classroom, Mcclung says, “Once a wildcat, always a wildcat. It was great to be here.”
One of REV’s most experienced English teachers, with a true heart for reading, Jody Bradberry is retiring this year.
Looking back on her career, Bradberry is happy and feels a sense of accomplishment. “There are too many good memories; I’ve had a great career,” she said.
Bradberry is ready for retirement and will miss the interaction with her students the most: “It was all about the kids” she further said.
After school ends, Bradberry’s plans are short and simple: “I’m going to walk, do yoga, and read.” Even though she is retiring, her love for reading will continue to endure.
After 36 years of teaching math, Micheal Broguiere, a sincere and genuine teacher, decided to retire this year. From his long career, Broguiere is nostalgic of the many comical and lighthearted memories that he experienced.
While teaching high school, Broguire told one of his classes that he wanted to buy a Vitamix Blender. In an attempt to help their teacher purchase a new blender, the class created a jar that they would pass around each day to collect change and raise funds for the blender. In the spirit of fellowship, Broguiere hosted a smoothie day for his class. “We were making smoothies all day,” he said. “It was an atmosphere of fun and good times.”
Broguiere was able to establish a sense of community among his students. This aspect of his teaching style will be missed as he heads into retirement; however, his retirement plans are not yet set in stone. “I may get a part-time job,” Broguiere said, but he has no intention of getting one this year.
When asked what he was looking forward to the most about retirement, he said, “You know, just not having to get up and be a slave to a clock. Just knowing that I’m somewhere that I’m not usually at this time of year.” The freedom to live spontaneously is within Broguiere’s grasp.
The very compassionate and artistic Fleury Laycook chose to make the 2020-2021 school year her last year before retiring from her position as an English teacher at REV. Students will remember Laycook as one of the most sympathetic teachers on campus.
After 32 years of teaching a variety of subjects and thousands of students, Laycook reminisced of years of memories and shared multiple “stand out times” which included her position as the newspaper advisor and a participant in Mock Trial. “We won the Southern California LA Times High School Newspaper of the year award,” she said. “Another one I think was pretty cool was going to the state championships when I was working with Mock Trial.”
With such a creative mind, Laycook plans to focus on her hobbies of painting, writing poetry, and photography. “I’m going to have a lot of fun painting and other creative stuff,” she said. Laycook will be retiring into a life where happiness will fill her days through her hobbies.
Vanessa Aranda, adored for her relatable character and joyful presence on campus, will not be working at REV next year; instead, she has accepted a position at Orangewood High School where she will carry out her 19th year teaching a variety of social studies subjects, in addition to English Learner support, and Digital Journalism.
Throughout her career, Aranda has always prioritized the voice of her students and became recognized on campus as an intentional teacher capable of making her students feel acknowledged and appreciated. This special aspect of her character can be seen as she reflects on one of her fondest memories as the Rock Painting Club’s advisor.
One day when her room was crowded with club members, “one of [her] students wrote on a portable whiteboard sign, “EVERYONE IS WELCOME. We will find space for you if you think it’s crowded” and propped it outside.
She said, “Throughout the week, I would keep that sign up in my room, because I just loved how inclusive it was. It kinda symbolized exactly how I wanted my students to always feel in my class: welcomed and that it’s a space for them.”
Aranda’s time at REV embodies what it means to be a teacher that not only has a heart for teaching, but a heart for students as well. She will be remembered for going beyond the expected duties of her job to create an environment where students feel valued.
Shannon Nicholas is the third English teacher that will be leaving REV this year. After teaching for 15 years, officially reaching the halfway-point, Nicholas has accepted an administrative position at St. Anne School in Laguna Niguel.
“So I will be moving to the beach,” she said.
Although Nicolas admits the move is somewhat frightening, because she will be working at a kindergarten through eighth grade school instead of a high school, she is still holding on to the thrill of the unknown and has a positive mindset. “I am very excited, she said. It is a new opportunity and a new adventure.”
While at REV, Nicholas has taught a variety of subjects which enabled her to teach the same students multiple times.
She said, “It was awesome, because I was able to build a greater relationship, and if you don’t have that, school’s boring. If you don’t like your teacher, and you don’t get along, students will lack motivation. It’s part of teaching.”
Nicholas understands the value of a healthy student-teacher relationship, and she will allow her knowledge and understanding to lead her to success in this next stage of her life.
A powerful voice and prominent figure in the music department, Choir Director Ramon Cardenas is moving across the country to Tallahassee, Florida where he will be attending Florida State University.
Although uprooting to the East Coast is a dramatic life change, Cardenas is excited to have the opportunity to advance his education and earn his doctorate to teach at the college level.
As he reflects on his time spent at REV, Cardenas’ most memorable moments as a teacher were spent on retreats with his students. “We always had really good times there. Everybody was always just funny and silly, just cool to see people get involved outside of class,” he said.
Even though distance learning extinguished almost all of the music department’s performances this year, Cardenas was able to experience one last “Hoorah” moment before last year’s shutdown. He said, “the choir concert we had right before the shutdown was the best concert that the choirs had.”
Cardenas will remain a well-liked teacher in the music department.
REV’s English department is losing yet another teacher, Laura Brown. With a strong desire to teach her students how to speak and write intellectually, Brown has decided to retire at the end of the school year.
From her career, Brown believes the best thing about teaching is the wisdom she gained from her students along the way. “They’ve taught me so many crucial things–not about grammar–but about compassion and humanity and life,” she said.
Although teachers are labeled as the educator, they themselves are constantly learning and their perspective on life is constantly developing. While working as a third grade elementary teacher, Brown remembers when she was humorously enlightened by one of her students.
“A very bright student named Wesley raised his hand and asked about the ellipsis. I didn’t know what that was, so I said, “Wesley, tell us what you know about the ellipsis?” He said, “That’s when you end a period with dot, dot, dot.’”
Although Brown is retiring, this is not the end of her journey. “I’m looking forward to new adventures with my family,” she said. “My husband and I will live in Utah during the spring and summer and in Florida during the fall and winter.” Brown’s grandchildren live in those two states, and throughout her retirement, she will be surrounded by her loved ones.
It’s no lie that teaching high school students is difficult. However, after speaking with each one of these wonderful teachers, it is evident that the struggles and stress are worth it. These teachers taught with passion and sincerity to help the young kids in their community. To be a teacher, you have to be sympathetic, patient, prepared, and always have the highest expectations for your students. All the teachers mentioned encompass these traits, allowing the students at REV to receive the best education possible and create some of the most endearing memories. REV is losing an amazing group of people, but from all at REV, the hope is that each of these teachers’ futures will be filled with happiness and opportunity. From parents, to students, to administration, the gratitude from so many people extends to these teachers. There is no doubt that they will be missed on campus.
Unfortunately, Rhonda Fouch was not available to interview; however, she will be retiring this year as well.
Theatre arts teacher Kaitlyn Daniels will no longer be working at REV next year as well.