Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 28, 2013

Second-grade teacher recalls 35 years in the classroom

33 staff members retiring from school district

by Glenn Wohltmann

Among the 33 staff members who retired from the Pleasanton school district at the end of the school year is Carol Wolfe, who's retiring after three decades as a teacher.

"I was surprised to learn it's been 35 years," Wolfe said. "The time has just flown."

Wolfe had a unique opportunity in Pleasanton. She was on teams that opened two different schools: Pleasanton Middle School and Hearst Elementary.

She called the 1991 opening of PMS "amazing."

"It was very exciting, people from all over coming to the school to see it because at the time it was the best school ever. It was more like a business park than a school," Wolfe said. "It's really exciting to open up a school -- it's quite a phenomenon. They're getting new mascots, everything. It's all new."

After a year at PMS, Wolfe transferred to Valley View Elementary, where she went back to teaching second grade.

"I got to teach science and math and social studies. I have a science background, so it was really exciting to get back and teach those things," she said. "All my students know me from raising silkworms in the classroom."

One tradition she had was to give out rocks -- pyrite, crystals, fossilized trilobites and shark's teeth -- when students completed a project. She took that tradition with her when she moved to help open Hearst in 2000.

"Once again it was exciting, deciding on school colors and a mascot," Wolfe said. "It was a real privilege to be at another school."

She said departing after so long in the district was sad, leaving not only her last class, but all the students that came back to see her.

"I had fifth-graders come in after school to help grade papers," she said. "High school students would come back and ask if I'm still giving out rocks and raising silkworms."

Her advice to an incoming teacher?

"Don't be afraid to show your passion, what you like to do -- the kids pick up on that passion," Wolfe said "Make learning fun, so kids get hooked into it."

She said she's planning on doing some traveling and spending time outdoors.

"I'll take advantage of off season discounts that you can't do when you're a teacher -- and playing lots of golf," she said.

But, Wolfe added, she hasn't ruled out returning to the district, this time as a volunteer.

Other retirees from the district are:

* Jacqueline Albano, resource specialist at Hart Middle School

* Keith Averell, third-grade teacher at Vintage Hills Elementary

* Judith Beebe-Vargas, speech therapist at Walnut Grove Elementary

* Laura Bennett, first-grade teacher at Donlon Elementary

* Karen Buchanan, administrative secretary at PMS

* Cella Ermina, child nutrition assistant at Amador child nutrition

* Leslie Dannis, deaf/hard of hearing teacher for special education

* Gregory Davis, music teacher at Lydiksen and Donlon elementaries

* Dan Diep, custodian at Foothill High

* Susan Di Girolamo, resource specialist at Mohr Elementary

* Patricia Esser, special education assistant at Foothill

* Joyce Frye, business services administrative assistant at the district offices

* James Hansen, principal, Amador Valley High

* Gary Hicklin, technology director for the district

* Rebecca Hintze, campus monitor at Foothill

* Paula Jenkins, resource specialist at Lydiksen

* Robert Loew, math teacher at Foothill

* Linda Olbrycht, counselor at Vintage Hills

* Dee Osborne, business services coordinator at the district offices

* Dane Post, science teacher at PMS

* Paula Richter, second-grade teacher at Walnut Grove

* Kelly Sandler, resource specialist at Foothill

* Francisco Santos, math teacher at PMS

* Janet Sears, third-grade teacher at Mohr

* Susan Snyder-Johnson, second-grade teacher at Vintage Hills

* Vicki Stephens, first-grade teacher at Vintage Hills

* Theresa Sullivan, second-grade teacher at Hearst

* Ellen Talbot, second-grade teacher at Fairlands

* Ellen Waskey, reading specialist at the district offices

* Nancy Wedge, math teacher at PMS

* John Whitney, principal at PMS

* Lee Zachariades, PE/social studies/leadership teacher at Village High


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