Bernard Gantz is going fishing. Sylvia Nielsen-Ioka has dozens of
rosebushes to tend. Jean Thornton is taking a cruise.
“I’m going fishing near Mt. Whitney as soon as school is out and
again in September,” said Gantz, a John Burroughs High School auto
shop teacher who is calling it quits after 35 years. “It’s been my
dream for years.”
Gantz, Nielsen and Thornton are among 13 teachers who are retiring
next week after more than 30 years with the Burbank Unified School
District. Another teacher -- Emerson Elementary School’s Jean
Nancarrow -- has spent 12 of her 32 working years with the district.
The group, honored June 5 by the Burbank Teachers’ Assn. for their
contributions to the district, has amassed 498 years of experience.
“Five-hundred years of cumulative experience can’t be replaced
overnight,” Supt. Gregory Bowman said.
Longtime teacher Cynthia Faust, now vice principal at Jefferson
Elementary, leads the way with 44 years of service. Faust, 65, who
also served as a curriculum specialist, said education has changed
for the better since she started.
“More research is being done into methods of teaching and the
functions of the human brain,” she said. “I personally think the
research made education a much more exciting environment.”
Miller kindergarten teacher Jacqueline Dwight is ending a 39-year
career with the district, 27 of which were spent as a music teacher.
Dwight, a cellist, will continue teaching the after-school string
instrumental program at Miller.
Mari Karlsson has taught at Stevenson Elementary School since
1966. When she isn’t traveling, taking classes or spending time with
her family, Karlsson will teach music twice a week at Stevenson.
Nielsen-Ioka, a 36-year veteran, is looking forward to her
retirement, which will include traveling and taking care of about 50
rosebushes. Although she leaves Luther Burbank Middle School,
Nielsen-Ioka, 63, won’t stay away long. She plans to return as a
Diana Olken, who taught for 36 years, left Burbank High School in
December to embark upon a new career. In January, Olken enrolled in a
paralegal course at UCLA. When she completes the course, Olken
intends to work for a law office.
JoAnn Henry is retiring after 35 years, including the last 32 at
Emerson, where she taught third grade. Henry, though, won’t be gone
long. She will return as a district-wide substitute teacher.
“I couldn’t stand to be away,” she said.
For 34 years, David Harris has taught math at Burbank High, and is
chairman of the school’s math department. The 61-year-old has no
regrets about his chosen profession.
“The biggest pleasure is working with such good people, and I like
the kids,” he said.
Carole Hendriks, a fourth-grade teacher at Emerson Elementary, is
retiring after 34 years with the district.
“It’s been a great journey,” Hendriks said. "[There were] some up
times and some down times, but the rewards far outweigh the
John Burroughs High teacher Louise Sanchez retired Feb. 1 after
33 years, and traveled to France and England with her daughter.
Bret Harte Elementary School teacher Sharon Snell is looking
forward to the future after 33 years with the district. Snell and her
husband are retiring to their new home, on more than an acre of land
near Virginia City, Nev.
“We’re moving to the country,” she said. “We have wild mustangs
coming onto our property. It’s a life we’ve never had.”
For 33 years, Thornton took vacations in the summer when school
was out. But this year, Thornton, who retired Feb. 1 from John Muir Middle School, has booked a cruise for the first week of September.