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Opinion

The Whiteboard Jungle: As one writing project ends, the future holds many opportunities for columnist

Brian Crosby, who has written a column for the Glendale News-Press since early 2011, spent almost all of his teaching career at Hoover High School.
(File Photo)

As many of you know by now, the Glendale News-Press, the Burbank Leader and the La Cañada Valley Sun will no longer be published.

This means that you are reading my last column, a column I have written since early 2011.

At that time, The Times was trying out something called the 818 Bloggers, and I was part of that crew.

My column, originally called “The Crosby Chronicles,” became “The Whiteboard Jungle” by 2013. The main focus was education, but I covered an array of issues that impacted young people.

Even though I wasn’t compensated much for my near decadelong tenure, I took seriously the responsibility of having a voice in the community.

Every other week, I would agonize over the column; as any writer will tell you, good writing comes from good revisions.

Early drafts often totaled 1,500 words, too many for a 600-word column. However, it is easier to delete words than add them, advice I often pass on to my students.

It is also easier to have a meticulous editor, my wife, Sherry.

I feel bad for newspapers that have struggled mightily the past few decades, with dwindling ad revenue and readership. Losing journalists is not healthy in a democracy. Nowadays, more people access internet posts controlled by those who are anything but real journalists.

Next time there is corruption in the cities of Burbank or Glendale, who will report on it?

The public will suffer without the fourth estate as its watchdog, especially at a time when real news gets mislabeled as fake news.

When my editor called me Thursday evening about the paper’s demise, it coincidentally was the same day I turned in my retirement papers to the Glendale Unified offices. How strange is that?

Yes, come June 12, after 31 years, I will return to being a private citizen, no longer a public school teacher. Except for the first two weeks in September of 1989 at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles (noted for calculus teacher Jaime Escalante), I have spent all of my career at Hoover High School in Glendale.

I had several ideas for future columns lined up including one about my retirement from teaching. Now this is a column about my retirement from working.

When people ask me, “Are you sure you want to do this?” my response is it is time. While I still have my health and enjoy my job, I’d rather leave a little too early than stay a little too late. Besides, as Vin Scully often commented, we are all living day to day. No one knows what our expiration is.

Still, I do feel that I have something to share, wisdom to pass on, mentoring to perform.

Veteran teachers bring a unique view that only time and experience can nurture. A reservoir of talented and imaginative people should be tapped at a time when invention of a new way of structuring schools and teaching students is already underway, if only districts would use them in leadership roles. It is a precious resource too often taken for granted and overlooked.

I want to thank former editor Dan Evans, who hired me, as well as current editor Mark Kellam.

Most of all, I thank you for reading what was on my mind. With apologies to Maytag repairmen, writers are the loneliest guys in town. We perform alone, not knowing if anyone out there cares about the words we string together. Each kind email received made my day.

I cling to the belief that former students now in their 20s, 30s and 40s remember something from the days with Mr. Crosby that has made a positive impact in their lives. I know their being in my classroom made one in mine.

For those of you who are interested, I will continue writing my blog, the CrosbyChronicles.org, and plan on writing more books. Email briancrosby1958@gmail.com.

God bless and stay well.

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