By Odalis A. SUAREZ
It was a full house at the Crescenta Valley High School cafeteria on Wednesday as teachers, faculty, and staff crowded the room to honor their 16 retiring co-workers.
Cathy Turansky of Chás Catering who integrated her dishes with the event’s Hawaiian Luau theme catered the event with coleslaw, teriyaki chicken and white rice. CVHS staff garnished the cafeteria with flower centerpieces, colorful balloons, and tablecloths.
In addition to the tropical theme, teacher Brian Landisi, with the help of math teacher Win Saw and his yearbook staff, made life size cut outs of the retirees that were lined up for all to view during the
festivities. Landisi and the yearbook staff also researched past CVHS yearbooks, looking for older pictures of the staff members to present in a slideshow.
During the retirement celebration, tears were shed and laughter heard. Hosted by Saw and English teacher Amanda Chatem, teachers who were close to those soon to be leaving praised their co-workers as they shared anecdotes, inside jokes and even performed songs and skits.
As each retiree walked up to the front of the room they had an opportunity to speak and were then given three awards: a County of Los Angeles Commendation, a Crescenta Valley High School diploma and a glass clock in thanks for their years of dedication.
John Nelson spoke of 36-year educator Jim Beckenhauer. “When I think about Coach Beck three words come to mind; pride, tradition, and honor,” said Coach Nelson. Retiree Sherry Taylor provided encouraging last words to her fellow teachers emphasizing that, “It’s really important to allow people to stand on your shoulders. If you have a voice, use it.”
CVHS principal Linda Evans, who is also on the retirement list, held back tears as she read excerpts from a book, which led to a standing ovation from the entire audience. Math teacher Lisa Reed, who was just assigned as the new assistant principal at the high school, offered her opinion of the retiring principal. “[She] never ever tries to solve the problems on her own,” said Reed. “She believes it takes a team effort.”
However, CVHS’s loss of 16 experienced staff members is only one of the many Glendale Unified schools that are facing this unfortunate circumstance. A total of 74 staff members from various schools within the Glendale district will be forced to retire at the end of this school year. Essentially, after Glendale schools say goodbye to their fellow co-workers, they must say hello to the problems that may arise with the decrease in staff.
“Our teachers union cancelled [the] negotiation session (which was scheduled for June 10), [now] we have to wait until mid July to see what [the] budget picture will look like and how many teachers there will be to replace,” explained newly selected assistant superintendent John Garcia.
Glendale schools are left in uncertainty, as the future of the academic environment will be determined by a July 16 fact-finding hearing.
“Without an agreement we have to move on with the lay offs and increase class sizes 30-to-1. Our hope is to come to an agreement to bring back all the risk teachers,” said Dr. Richard Sheehan who will shortly be taking on the role of superintendent from Dr. Michael Escalante.
While negotiations are progressing, the school board is attempting to make positional shifts by moving veteran educators to other schools.
“We are currently looking for elementary school teachers with secondary credentials,” stated Sheehan.
This search will move these certified elementary school teachers to middle schools and high schools, which will possibly fill in the void that will be left by retiring teachers.
However staffs at schools like CVHS are staying optimistic about the changes that will soon be occurring in the upcoming school year.
“One of the things that I hope to do is to kind of be the old voice of CV, the one that has been around a long time [who] knows what it was like 10 years ago, 20 years ago,” stated Reed regarding her new position as assistant principal.
When speaking for retiree Tony Zarrillo, teacher Paul Schilling commended the leaving staff for accepting the retirement offer. “By all of you stepping up and taking this offer it’s [providing] a great deal of jobs,” said Schilling.
But as retiring GUSD employees are commended on their fine work and dedication to the academic community to which they have devoted years, the teachers union and board must now settle on suitable mechanisms that will bring continued success to the district.