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Enrolling in the leisure class

Molly Shore

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.