By Amy Orr, Special to the Independent
In June, four well-loved members of the school district staff with a combined tenure of 110 years will retire from Laguna Beach schools. All four women were recognized at a school board meeting, Tuesday, May 23.
“The third, fourth and fifth grade teachers there inspired me and instilled a passion for teaching,” said Vick, a fourth grade teacher, who started wearing her signature Birkenstock sandals during her days at Laguna Beach High in the 1970’s.
Rattlesnakes, which are now caught and relocated, used to be killed if found on campus. Ever the teacher, Vick would use their bodies for anatomy lessons.
Vick will miss many aspects of teaching, but not the ever-changing technological tools. She prefers physical textbooks to screens, although she knows kids love them. With more free time in her future, she looks forward to camping, walking her dogs, enjoying the beach, and visiting family.
El Morro colleague Cheri David is stepping away from the classroom after 23 years. David began her career in the Community Learning Center. She also was a reading specialist at Top of the World before her assignment as a first grade teacher. Her teaching has infused students with a passion for reading, said El Morro Principal Chris Duddy.
“I’ll miss the hugs I get from kids throughout the day,” said David. “I will also miss my wonderful colleagues. They are amazing educators.”
David takes advantage of the hands-on learning opportunities available because of the school’s location near Crystal Cove State Park. Her favorite student field trip involves tidepools.
When she retires, David looks forward to spending more time visiting her son and daughter.
Vick and David are both “beloved by parents, students, and staff,” said Duddy.
TOW is also losing a treasured member of its staff: attendance and reception assistant and afterschool coordinator Claudia Redfern. Redfern’s 32 years of knowledge and insight will be difficult to replace. According to school board President Jan Vickers, “Claudia is the front office at TOW.”
Redfern is legendary for her drive and work ethic. She says that she doesn’t take breaks and she rarely leaves for lunch.
“I’m very task-oriented,” says Redfern. “When I have a job to do, I just want to get it done.”
Principal Michael Conlon says, “Claudia will be missed dearly but will always be part of the TOW family.”
Instead of returning to campus next fall, Redfern is excited to visit Iceland and celebrate a milestone birthday with her daughters.
According to Thurston Middle School Principal Jennifer Salberg, the middle school will have a hard time replacing instructional assistant Eleanor Tiner. Salberg describes Tiner as “a ray of light who has gone above and beyond to support all students and staff members.”
Tiner began her career in 1995, joining her husband, now-retired art teacher Peter Tiner, at Laguna Beach High School. She moved to Thurston in 2010. Tiner has enjoyed working with kids and having the freedom to travel with her family during the summer.
Having already visited 35 countries, Tiner aims to bring that number to 50. She is especially interested in exotic locations, such as Mongolia.
Although she loves exploring, Tiner appreciates the strong ties of support in Laguna Beach. Tiner has given and received a great deal from the community. Her goal has always been to “guide kids and help them become successful.” She is grateful that she has been able to “watch students develop and bloom.”
Salberg recalled seeing Tiner teach a student to ride a bike, which the principal described as a metaphor for Tiner’s relationship with students: helping them get their balance, running beside them, and then letting them pedal on their own.
“The four women who were honored at our board meeting represent so many years of dedication to the students they have educated and loved,” said Vickers. “Our district is fortunate to have such loyal and committed folks, but the biggest benefit has gone to the students.”
Replacements will be sought for Tiner, Redfern, and retiring Thurston science teacher Linda Hill-Lindsay, said district spokeswoman Leisa Winston. Student enrollment numbers will dictate whether Vick and David’s roles will be filled, she said.
Employees have already been hired for positions vacated in December by school readiness nurse Kathleen Knott and Thurston instructional assistant Jan Hedden. LBHS Principal Chris Herzfeld’s teaching assignment has not yet been finalized, other than he will be teaching social studies next year, she said.