MVHS says goodbye to departing teachers


Alec Olslund

MVHS will be experiencing many changes this year, as teachers part ways with MVHS, and the school begins the process of replacing the irreplaceable. Many of these teachers have dedicated decades of their lives to teaching, in addition to countless years devoted to MVHS. They will be missed dearly.

Disclaimer: These are the teachers who, as of Feb. 9, have confirmed to Oracle that they are retiring this year. We will report on decisions made by teachers to retire as those plans are announced.

Sarah Good:

Math teacher Sarah Good will be retiring this year. She requested not to be interviewed by Oracle.

Mala Krishna:

Science teacher Dr. Mala Krishna is taking a leave of absence from MVHS next year. The science teacher has not yet decided whether she will return to MVHS following the 2017-18 school year.

Frank Navarro:

History teacher Frank Navarro is also retiring this year. Navarro will take with him over 40 years of teaching experience, and leave behind a passion for history that he has striven to pass along to his students.

“The meaning of life is to find a passion,” Navarro said. “My passion is history and my belief in history and the way it shapes and changes lives. The purpose of life is to give that passion away, and that’s what I try to do on a daily basis.”

Navarro, who was placed on leave during the first semester for reasons admin was unable to disclose, says that he cannot emphasize how much he appreciated the ensuing support from the community.

“The Mountain View community and the teachers have been very supportive and I’m proud to be a teacher working with the people at this school. It’s a privilege to serve and work with this community,” Navarro said.

In retirement, he hopes to become a full-time writer.

“I’m doing a lot of writing now. I’m working on a history of Mountain View High School, but as a reflection of the changes in gender, culture, and economics,” Navarro said.

Navarro plans on following a schedule that allows him to pursue his passions.

“It’s time for me to start writing on a full time basis,” Navarro said. “I have a schedule. I’m going to write from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and then I’m going to go on a two or three hour bike ride. And two days a week I’ll go to the weight room.”

Navarro, a lifetime traveller, hopes to explore the world in the offseason for tourists, to avoid crowds.

“My wife and I wanna see the northern lights. For some reason, I’ve always wanted to see Paris in October when the season is changing and the crowds are way down,” Navarro said.

George St. Clair:

Tutorial center coordinator George St. Clair will be retiring after 18 years at MVHS and 32 years of teaching.

St. Clair began his teaching career in 1972 after graduating from the University of California at Davis with a degree in Biology, going overseas to teach for six years with the Peace Corps in Western Samoa and the Fiji Islands.

“I’m retiring because, put simply, it is time. I’ve enjoyed a lengthy, productive, meaningful career in education and I hope to leave on a high note while I remain healthy to explore further what life has to offer,” St. Clair said. “Additionally, the daily 60 mile commute to/from Santa Cruz and the early-to-bed, early-to-rise routines are all becoming more challenging.”

During his free time, St. Clair enjoys the outdoors, and he has hiked in many places over the years.

“I’ve narrowed it down to my favorite places where I see very few people, if any. I usually go cross country, following rivers and streams and just hang out,” St. Clair said. “Carmel river, Big Sur river, Arroyo Seco river, those are the three rivers I hang out, and have since I was a boy, and I never get tired of it.”

In his retirement, St. Clair plans on travelling, but only to confirm his conviction that paradise is within him, and that he can find happiness at home. Email correspondents with St. Clair may remember the quote by T.S. Eliot at the bottom of every email.

“I suspect after all the travelling is done, and I returned to the Carmel river, Big Sur river, Arroyo Seco river, I will find that I’ve returned home, that it was here all the time, of course I know that,” St. Clair said. “I know that everything you can know is right here, it’s in you, it’s around you, it’s in the people you interact with. You don’t have to go far to learn what it’s all about.”

“It really brings a lot of joy to me that happiness is within you, and paradise is where you make it,” St. Clair said.

St. Clair, a teacher at heart, has a parting lesson he’d like to leave for the students of MVHS.

“Questions are more important than answers in school and in life,” St. Clair said. “It’s not the answer, it’s the search that counts. The ends don’t justify the means.”

Katie Thornburg:

Science teacher Dr. Katie Thornburg will be retiring this year after 22 years at MVHS and  a 31 year teaching career.

“[I] couldn’t find a better group of people to work with than in my own department. I don’t think I could find better kids,” Thornburg said.

In her retirement, Thornburg plans on tutoring, going to China, learning Mandarin, playing golf, and seeing what else turns out.

Phil Wiechec:

Phil Wiechec, the engineering and architectural design teacher, is retiring this year after a tenure of 19 years at MVHS and 42 years of being a teacher.

Wiechec recognized the quality of MVHS as one of the most enticing factors about it.

“This is the ninth different school that I’ve taught at during my 42 years and without a doubt this district is the best district that I’ve taught at,” Wiechec said. “The community here is very supportive [and] the quality of students is the best I’ve ever taught.”

A typical working day for Wiechec involves getting all of his work done before going home, helping around the house, and capping off the day reading or watching a movie.

“You’ve gotta have the action movies,” Wiechec said. “In the past [my favorite actor was] Errol Flynn, the original Robin Hood. Nowadays it’s Russell Crowe.”

In his free time, Wiechec enjoys gardening, building, and fishing. He’s also a pretty good cook, and loves to experiment.

Wiechec also enjoys bike rides, something he partakes in with fellow MVHS teacher and retiree Frank Navarro.

“We’ve gone on some very long 30 mile rides together,” Wiechec said.

During his retirement, Wiechec plans on moving to the Tampa region of Florida, devoting more of his time to community service, and exploring the world.

“My first destination is Europe. I would love to go to Italy and Greece first, and from there I’d like to go to Asia and see the Great Wall of China,” Wiechec said.