End of school year marks end of careers for 17 teachers
This is the second of a two-part series about Ramona Unified School District teachers who will start their retirement when the school year closes. The first article focused on elementary school teachers. Following are Ramona’s secondary teachers who are retiring.
With just a week left in their careers, teachers heading toward retirement simultaneously are excited about starting the next chapter in their lives and sad about leaving their colleagues, students and profession behind.
Ramona High School
The legendary Bill Tamburrino has been at RHS since September 1975. He has taught Speech, English Literature, English I, II, III, IV, ESL History, Physical Education, Civics, Economics (Summer School), elementary summer school and adult night school. His extra-curricular resume is nearly as long. He has coached football, baseball, softball, girl’s basketball, soccer, track, been an adviser for Skills USA, judged speeches for FFA, chaperoned proms, dances, and field trips, and been a class adviser and sport announcer.
He earned a Teacher of the Year award in 1977 and has also been a mentor teacher for BTSA. He will miss the daily interaction with students and student athletes.
“They are what teaching and coaching is all about,” he said. “Seeing the fire in students’ eyes, especially the athletes, is a highlight. Watching them accept a challenge, go against the odds and fight to do their best and win is a high that cannot be explained or duplicated.”
Another highlight is the students who have come through his classroom.
“I have taught more than 100 students who have gone on to become teachers, coaches and educators, many in this district,” he said.
During his retirement, he plans on being a granddad, writing, coaching and doing some traveling.
Joe Bess has been with RHS for 20 years and, prior to that, Ramona Elementary for 13 years. He has also been a coach at RHS for 20 years and was the athletic director for 13.
He teaches both special education and physical education and has coached basketball—boys and girls—as well as football and girls tennis.
He hopes to play a lot of golf and travel during his retirement.
Kristi Holt started at RHS in 1976 and has taught all levels of English. She co-chaired Amnesty International Club with her husband for several years, has been the adviser for Students for Environmental Awareness and Protection (SEAP) for the past 6 years, and also started the RHS Knitting Society years ago to make tiny hats for premature babies in Children’s Hospitals and elsewhere. Her many teaching highlights include her involvement in the above activities, namely when her SEAP students volunteered to dig “homes” for burrowing owls who had lost their homes to land expansion.
“These students got up at 7 in the morning on a Saturday and, in all weather, dug and hauled dirt and built and when we came back in the spring we saw baby owls cozy in their new pads, it was a glorious reward. There are lots of never-to-be-forgotten moments like this. What a great job this is!” she said.
She will miss the daily repartee with students and staff.
“RHS is just a wonderful place to work—such genuine affability and concern, sharing ideas, time, laughter,” she said.
She will also miss one of her favorite assignments, which are “book chats” where she sits down with students solo and talk books. The conversation is rich and she has always learned so much about her students this way.
Her retirement plans include revisiting the several neglected hobbies she just hasn’t had time for such as: getting back to the cello, dusting off her loom for sewing and traveling with her family.
“Mostly I look forward to just being, and allowing a new path to appear. Adventures in community service will definitely be a part of this new life too,” she added.
The highly respected Mike Jordan of the RHS Automotive Program is another big name retiring this year. He has been at RHS for his entire teaching career of 31 years, teaching automotive and motorcycles classes. He was also class adviser for 5 different classes, a total of 20 years. He has taken students to automotive and motorcycle competitions all around the United States, producing several national champions.
In addition, he was the ski club adviser for 10 years taking students to Lake Tahoe for a week of snow skiing in the winter and to the Colorado River for a week of water skiing in the spring. His highlights are overwhelming, but if he had to choose one it would be being selected as runner-up for California Teacher of the Year.
As for what he will miss most, it will be “being able to place students to work at different automotive dealerships and always checking up on the progress they have made over the years,” he said. Currently, he has no big retirement plans.
Teacher of the Year Karen Quillen has been with RUSD for 23 years. She began teaching at Oak Glen and Montecito in 1986 for six years and has been with RHS since 1995. She has taught computer programming, computer applications, multi-media/web design, keyboarding, desktop publishing, business management and marketing, Virtual Enterprise, computer accounting, and yearbook.
She is known around campus for her dedication and involvement. She has volunteered as vice president and president of Band Boosters, adviser for Future Business Leaders of America, Associated Student Body director, school newspaper co-adviser, and yearbook adviser. She has also been department chair, Ramona Teachers Association treasurer, state council representative for San Diego County and the RAMP grant coordinator.
Many of her highlights come from the activities she participated in, like taking students to national competitions, and watching them win state competitions. She will miss what she calls the “dynamics of teaching. There is a craziness of deadlines, from yearbook to ASB to Virtual Enterprise, and keeping up on grading, assignments, and recording scores. This is the only profession I know of where you can re-evaluate, change and have a brand new perspective every year.”
She will also greatly miss her colleagues. “They are professional, dedicated, thoughtful people that have dedicated their professional lives to impacting children and working to make them successful adults, both inside and out of the classroom.”
Her plans for retirement are to “spend quality time with our gorgeous grandson, discover all there is to do in Texas, which should take a few years, sleep in until at least 6 a.m., and learn to live life in increments other than 53 minutes.”
Charlie Buhl has been teaching at RHS for 16 years. He teaches a myriad of English courses, including English I and III, Honors English, Technology Prep, English for students who have not yet passed the California High School Exit Exam, and Sheltered English/ESL. He also coached freshmen football and junior varsity for 7 years and has coached JV Academic League for the past 10 years.
He will greatly miss the interaction with the kids, who regard him with equal respect and admiration.
“The bonds that develop over the course of a year are incredible,” he said.
Some of his career highlights include being nominated for the Crystal Apple Award—an award given by students—also having students nominate him as the most knowledgeable teachers on campus, and he also recalls a few years when students stood on their desks on the last day of finals and saluted him with “Oh Captain! My Captain!” from the film Dead Poet’s Society, which is part of his curriculum.
He plans on spending more time with his new granddaughter, who will be 1 this month, riding his Harley with fellow RHS teachers Mike Saavedra and Mike Jordan, and going deep sea fishing. He also “plans on reading more books for pleasure without having to teach them, and attempting to get into the “voiceover” business and utilize the full range and power of my voice to start a new career. I will also volunteer my time to read at libraries and hospitals to children.”
Olive Peirce Middle School
Stephen Tucker has been a teacher for 36 years, 32 in RUSD. He started at Ramona Intermediate School but also taught at Hanson Lane Elementary. He spent the bulk of his career, 20 years, at OPMS teaching computer skills and running the broadcast studio, but he has taught the last two years at Future Bound. In addition to his work with RUSD, he has taught computer applications for Palomar College in the evenings for 20 years, summer extension classes in computers, and video production for UCSD in La Jolla.
He has three distinct highlights: a 30-0 basketball season at St. George (where he worked prior to RUSD), being given the WHO Award (We Honor Our Own) by CTA for his union work with the Ramona Teachers Association, and having a Public Service Announcement his PBS students created for Julian High School students who won the Scott Newman storyboard contest shown at the San Diego Emmy Awards in 1992.
He will miss the great group of teachers who spent their careers helping others—both children and adults.
“My wife and I hope to travel some over the next few years, visit with the grandkids, and I plan to finish restoring the ‘79 Firebird that I still drive,” he said. “My wife hopes I’ll find a hobby that doesn’t involve sitting.”
After teaching four years at San Diego Mesa College, Frank Lucio came to Ramona High School where he taught Adaptive Physical Education and coached wrestling. After 8 years at RHS, he moved to Olive Pierce where he has been teaching science since, giving him 30 years with the district. His career highlights include starting the first Special Olympic Track and Field program at RHS and making it a long-standing event.
“Experiencing the good that came out of that program will remain with me forever,” he said. He is going to miss his colleagues and his core science team the most, as well as the first day of school each year.
“It’s always a day to remember,” he said. He plans on playing a lot of music during his retirement and just being a retired teacher which means “doing whatever needs to be done whenever I feel like doing it,” he said with a laugh.
Mountain Valley Academy
Janet Gilbert began substitute teaching in 1985 for RUSD and Julian. After landing her first full-time job with Grossmont Union, she slowly worked her way back “up the hill” to Ramona where she joined MVA in 1995 as a math and science teacher.
She has many highlights including camping with students in Anza Borrego, walking on warm lava in Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, hiking in Costa Rica and visiting a Doctors without Borders refugee camp set up in Balboa Park. She also fondly remembers the “ah-ha” moments when students suddenly get what a she’s trying to teach them and when they tell her the work was hard but all worth it, especially after they report they got into the college of their choice.
“I don’t think I will miss staff meetings at all, but I will definitely miss my students and their families,” she said. “Thank you to my students and their families, staff and co-teachers. It has been a privilege and an honor to work with all. Thank you to RUSD and the school board for its ongoing support of alternative education in Ramona. Kudos to you!
“Special thanks to those families that have shared their lives with me and to all the community of Ramona for supporting our children’s education. It has truly been a pleasure.”
She plans on moving to Northern California, where her husband has accepted employment, and she hopes to hike the Redwoods and swim in the Smith River.
“And, who knows,” she added. “Maybe teach some more!”
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