I taught for thirty-six years, mostly English, mostly at the high school level, and mostly at Beverly Hills High School, (which is nothing like the media image, by the way). During those years I accumulated a considerable amount of knowledge and experience. Even long before my retirement, there were already jokes that, when I left, the school district would need to keep my brain in a jar, science fiction style, to avoid losing what I knew. (Those of you in teaching will appreciate the fact that institutional memory is important, but, given the increasing rapidity with which administrators come and go, not to mention the higher turnover rates even among teachers, my former district has been suffering from steadily growing institutional amnesia for a number of years.)
Anyway, I got to retire with my brain still in my skull, but I did want to continue making whatever modest contribution to education my knowledge and experience would allow. That’s the reason this site exists–sort of. It actually started as a resource website for my students during the last year I was teaching, and I forgot to cancel the autorenewal. When I realized I still had a site, I decided to repurpose it as a resource for the school employees, students, and teachers in general.
What do I have to offer? Although most of my teaching experience has been at the high school level at one school in one subject area, various experiences have helped me to broaden that both my viewpoint and my knowledge. Aside from my English credential, I also hold a Social Studies credential, which involved me in the development and implementation of interdisciplinary programs. As a director of forensics (competitive speaking and debate) I became acquainted with teachers from all over California, and from other parts of the country as well, giving me at least some opportunity to learn about their successes and challenges. As a union official who served on both the district’s representative council and executive board (in the latter case as director-at-large for the high school), I developed an understanding for the problems teachers and other support personnel faced in all grades and subjects. This understanding developed still further as a result of my participation in a large number of schoolwide and districtwide activities, including two terms as school site council chairperson; co-chairmanship of the strategic planning curriculum advisory committee; membership for several years on the superintendent’s advisory council and one of its successor bodies, the superintendent’s academic advisory; and membership on the district technology committee.
In other words, while my curricular expertise and direct teaching experience were limited to English (including technology integration in the subject), speech, history, and leadership (student council), from a policy-making standpoint, I’ve had experience with everything from pay equity for high school coaches to language immersion programs at the elementary school level. This varied background gives me more to share, and hopefully, you will find at least some of it useful. It isn’t quite brain-in-a-jar (trademark pending), but perhaps it will be worthwhile, anyway.
In the unlike event that you want to know more about me, I didn’t have the heart to take down the old “About Me” I used to display for students and parents. Despite its evident verbosity, it was surprisingly popular with both. Anyway, it has more detail, as well as a photo gallery and a slide show of scenes from my former school. If you’d like to see it, you can find it here.
(The brain in a jar image is copyrighted by Thankrit Sathavornmanee and licensed from http://www.shutterstock.com. The image of the Beverly Hills High School is my own photography.)