By Tommy Chan
The Mirror Staff
By Yerin Oh
The Mirror Staff
Farewell to Van Nuys High School’s Retiring Teachers
June 8, 2017
NEWS: VNHS’s retirees reflect on their experience throughout their teaching career and bid their final farewell.
As the school year inevitably draws to an end, retiring faculty members say their goodbyes.
This year, four teachers are retiring and one counselor is taking an extended maternity leave and moving out of state.
In place of the departing staff, there will be three new teachers joining the faculty in the new school year. Not much is known about the new incoming staff, but Principal Yolanda Gardea hinted that two of the teachers will be in the Math Department while the other will join the Spanish Department.
“When determining the roles of incoming teachers, we tend to look at the class size and student needs,” said Ms. Gardea. “If we have too many students in a particular class or not enough teachers teaching a particular subject, we try to hire accordingly.”
Teaching for 35 years, Mr. Kang began his career by substituting for his first five years. Afterwards, he taught at Le Conte Middle School for about 10 years, and then transferred to San Fernando High School where he taught for another five years.
In 2002, Mr. Kang transferred to Van Nuys High School and has worked here for 15 years teaching Geometry, Algebra 1 and Algebra 2.
“I had a great time. The students made me laugh every day. I always had fun. I had great students to work with.”
One thing that satisfies Mr. Kang is seeing how successful his students have become.
His former students visit him occasionally and tell him how they’re doing. Most of them are following their path very well, while some are struggling along their journey.
Students and teachers alike esteem him for being who he is
“He was a teacher that I thought did a very great job at educating, in which he has my respect. Mr. Kang is such an amazing person overall, and I hope he enjoys his retirement.”said May Nuchit, a former student of Mr. Kang, states,
Nuchit states how geometry was the only subject that she had struggled with back in freshman year, and at first thought that Mr. Kang was a boring teacher because his voice was monotone. But after awhile, she realized how entertaining and compassionate Mr. Kang is in his teaching.
After his retirement, Mr. Kang won’t be doing anything for awhile. He will either clean up his home or go to Hawaii to visit his mother.
The Math Department is bidding farewell to another long-term teacher, Ms. Dubova. She teaches the following mathematics classes: Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus and AP Calculus AB.
“I do not like the word ‘retirement.’ I think that my life is just at its new phase, its second beginning, when I will be able to do whatever I desire.”.
“I have lots of plans for the future: to conduct a healthy lifestyle, to spend more time with my family and friends, travel, create my own health club, write a couple of books and maybe get a few private students.”
Ms. Dubova has been teaching in LAUSD since 1998 and started working at Van Nuys in 2001.
She recalls her favorite moment in her Van Nuys HS career when she discovered that 96% of her AP Calculus students had passed the exam.
“I would like to see students succeed academically and in their future life endeavors.”
Special Education Department Chair
“Extra educational teacher” is what Ms. Deborah Sullivan prefers to be called. With all the negative connotations around the word “special,” she believes it had become an inaccurate way to describe something that is not negative at all.
A veteran instructor, Ms. Sullivan has been teaching since 1983, providing her with many opportunities to give more to the students and the community.
Ms. Sullivan was privileged to work for LAUSD’s Out And Staying In School program. Better known as O.A.S.I.S., it is a program that provides sanctuary for students who identify as LGBTQA.
With so many years in the Van Nuys High School community, Ms. Sullivan adds on to her experiences with the students.
“All my students are wonderful and hard-working. The students here, in particular, are very open and caring to all the staff. I do what I do because I love watching our children on stage, whether it be in the Performing Arts Magnet, the JROTC program, the Crimson Club, or science presentations. In the end, it’s all about letting the students shine.”
“I would like to give a big thank you to Ms. Gardea for allowing me to have RJC, or Restorative Justice Circles, in my class as a part of my social emotional curriculum,” Ms. Sullivan added. “It has been a great help for my 9th graders who are acclimating to high school and for my 12th graders who are transitioning to a higher education.”
As her final words to the VNHS community, Ms. Sullivan quotes Dr. Angela Davis, American political and academic activist and author.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
Physical Education Chair
The P.E. fields of Van Nuys High School will no longer feel the presence of Ms. Patricia Ochoa.
Teaching since 1978, Mrs. Ochoa has racked up a total of 38 years of teaching experience, with 15 years at Franklin High and 23 years at Van Nuys.
“My experiences with the school goes way back. I went to school here as did my parents, my husband, and my 2 sons. With the amount of time I invested into Van Nuys, I just somehow ended up working here.”
Some of Mrs. Ochoa’s most memorable moments involved her family. The majority of her family attended Van Nuys, and Mrs. Ochoa states that, “Going to watch my sons play in their baseball and football games were the most memorable.”
When asked why she was retiring this year in particular, she responds with more love for her family.
She is about to become a grandmother and believes that it is time to start spending more time with family.
Her last words to the VNHS community are to “carry on and keep Van Nuys at number one.”