Teacher retires after 42 years

Albano is longest-tenured instructor in school history


Ariel Chow, Staff Writer

After more than 40 years at Cal High, Algebra teacher Fred Albano retired on Jan. 27.

Although he had planned on finishing the semester, Albano finally decided that it would be a good time to retire.

“Some of my friends that are younger than I am are passing away, so there’s no guarantee,” said Albano. “I probably want to go ahead and start doing what I would like to do.”

With the extra time, Albano hopes to achieve his goals and fulfill his bucket list. As he and his wife both enjoy traveling and beach weather, they plan to visit Europe as well as Hawaii and other vacation spots where they can “lay out by the palapas (shades) and enjoy the breeze.”

Albano has had a long history with Cal. While he was a college student at UC Berkeley, he worked as a student teacher at Mt. Diablo High School and Vallejo Middle School.

He then became a student teacher at Cal in 1975, just two years after the school opened.

Out of the 12 student teachers at the time, he was the only one who was hired. Although he was also offered a position at an all-girls Catholic school, he ended up choosing to teach at Cal for the better salary.

Albano had taught at Cal longer than any other teacher in the school’s history, just one year more than Precalculus teacher Gary Triebwasser.

Only one teacher in the district has taught longer than Albano’s 42 years.

When be began teaching at Cal, Albano remembers administrators were impressed with the way he communicated with the class and taught math concepts.

Many students also enjoyed his teaching style and appreciated his passion.

“My favorite part is that he gives us a lot of shortcuts on studying Algebra,” said sophomore Wilson Wei. “He is experienced and he knows what we need for college.”

In his time teaching, Albano created many fond memories. One of his favorites was when the first graphing calculator came out in 1985, and he was able to get a class set for his precalculus classes.

“I was gung-ho,” he said. “That was the highest technology that we had.”

He fondly remembers feeling energized by being able to expose students to new tools that they would need to use in college and beyond.

In addition to teaching Algebra and getting new technology for students, Albano has made a variety of contributions to Cal.

He had previously taught precalculus, but gave up teaching higher level math classes when he was asked to become Cal’s athletic director in the late 1980s. He held the position up until the mid 2000s.

“I was kind of a jock in my young days,” said Albano, who had a passion for basketball and later tennis as well.

Over the years, he has coached basketball, football, track and field, and tennis.

Under his coaching, the men’s tennis team became the first Cal team to win a league title in 1989, breaking Monte Vista’s streak of 75 straight league wins.

He coached the women’s tennis team as well, and helped lead them to win a league championship.

“I was like the Energizer Bunny,” Albano said. “I just keep going.”

Overall, what he will miss most about teaching is interacting with his classes and students.

“I kind of joke around with my students a lot,” he said. “[I enjoy] teaching a class where students feel comfortable kidding with their teachers, laughing, and giggling.”

As a teacher, Albano was known for his humor as he enjoyed making students laugh and enjoy his class.

Many of his former students often remember how he frequently added jokes to the ends of his lessons called ‘Just 4 Laughs.’

“He’s one of those joke crackers,” said senior Ryan Higgins, a former student of Albano. “It just makes every lesson fun.”

Both students and teachers said they would miss Albano.

“He’s an inspiration to all math teachers,” said Triebwasser, who has taught at Cal for 41 years.

After knowing Albano all these years, Triebwasser said that he would especially miss Albano’s dry sense of humor.

“He makes our meetings more lively and entertaining,” said Calculus and Algebra teacher Janice Saiki.

In addition to contributing to the math department with his humor and enthusiasm, Albano has also been a leader to others.

“When I have questions, he’s one of the first people I ask,” said Saiki. “He’s always been a role model for me.”

She remembered looking up to him ever since she began teaching at Cal.

“He was our voice in many cases. He wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion,” said Jean Dillman, Calculus teacher and head of the math department. “He was the only person who called me ‘JD’. I’m going to miss the guy.”

After his many years of experience, Albano’s advice to students is the same quote that he had hanging above his white board for more than 30 years: “Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you; you must acquire it.”

He believes in working hard and seeking help when needed.

He often told his students, “There are three kinds of people in the world. The first is the people who make things happen. The second is the people who watch things happen. The third is the people who say ‘What the heck happened?’”

He encouraged his students to go beyond and aim to be the people who make things happen. For teachers, his advice is simply to teach.

“I know we are in a high tech era, but the main thing is don’t forget to be teachers,” said Albano. “The technology piece is great, but use it as a tool. Don’t lose the art of teaching a class.”