Retiring teachers leave the Grizzly den

Retiring teachers leave the Grizzly den

As Cal says goodbye to students who leave for college, it also bids farewell to seven teachers who have dedicated years of their lives for the well-being of their students.

The teachers who are retiring from Cal this year include Arlene Addison, Cindy Bonagura, Irene Brewster, Barbara Coffman, Doug DeVries, Barbara Farmer and Barbara Lafaver.

DeVries, AP and CP Economics teacher and Model United Nations (MUN) adviser has been working at Cal for 10 years.

His best memories at Cal were during senior ball, where he led his infamous conga line, and his times with MUN.

“MUN has been a positive force in my life,” said DeVries.  “Many students went on to do great things.”

He plans on going to U.S Bank in Reno after retirement to work in financial planning.

“I have served my purpose in school,” said DeVries. “This is a point in my life to change careers to go back to financial planning, to finish out my career.”

He said the biggest changes at Cal were the student demographic change and a much younger staff.

“It’s been a fun 10 years,” said DeVries. “It may be taxing sometimes. There have been constant turnovers in AP, but longevity-wise it’s been consistent.”

English teacher Arlene Addison has worked at Cal for 15 years. Her best memories at Cal are  the current ones.

“Past students [are] still in touch with me, and [I am] interested in how they turn out,” said Addison.

After retirement, she plans to check off her bucket list, finish some writing that she says has been long overdue, visit family all over the country, and take care of herself physically.

During her 15 years at Cal, Addison experienced a tremendous change in the physical structure of classrooms at Cal.

“There used to be pie-shaped classrooms,” said Addison.  “All of the buildings surrounded the library, there were no walls, only partitions, so the kids liked to kick the partitions and send notes under it.”

Addison advises new teachers to “channel [their] teenage-selves, be calm, and admire the view.”

Cindy Bonagura, iQuest and Careers in Teaching teacher, has been working at Cal for 16 years. Her best memories at Cal were being able to start and grow the iQuest and Careers in Teaching programs at the school.

This was her fourth year teaching iQuest and 10th year in Careers in Teaching.

After retirement, Bonagura plans to sleep in, travel, spend time with her parents, and look into volunteer work at hospitals.

Bonagura’s advice to future teachers is to believe every child can learn, love kids, and have high standards for students.       In addition, she believes that teachers have a responsibility to be in a good mood when they come to school because they, unlike students, have the choice to come to work.

“I loved being a teacher at Cal,” said Bonagura.  “It has been my honor to teach each and every one of my students, and I will miss it.”

French teacher Barbara Lafaver has worked at Cal for 15 years.

Her best memories were the ones involving teaching her students.

“I liked all my students,” said Lafaver.  “[Cal was] my favorite school I ever taught in.”

After retirement, she plans on  moving back to San Diego, where she will visit old high school friends and live in a big house with an acre of land.

“I like it in San Ramon, but San Diego is more like a home,”said Lafaver.

As an animal rights advocate, she also plans on housing rescued animals after her retirement. Lafaver looks forward to continuing to help save animals and to make the world a better place through kindness.

“It’s been a great 15 years,” concluded Lafaver,  “And I hope that I have touched students to bring more compassion to the world.”

Art teacher Barbara Farmer has been working at Cal for 10 years. Her best memories were watching the students create amazing art.

After retirement, Farmer plans on directing an art program for at-risk kids in San Francisco. She also looks forward to working in a church ministry that works with young mothers.

Farmer offers the final piece of advice for future teachers: “Class management is key, set high goals for students, and enjoy [their] students.

Coffman has been a resource teacher at Cal for 11 years, while Brewster has taught chemistry for nine-plus years.