When the school year concluded last month, a combined 22 Poway Unified School District middle school and special programs teachers retired.
Those who taught in the district for 30 or more years were invited to reflect on their careers. Three chose to participate.
• David Goff taught in PUSD for 36 years, for the past year as a high school teacher in the district’s New Directions Independent Study Program. “In my current position, I have supervised 34 students taking 32 different courses,” he said.
The rest of his career was at Poway High, where he taught social science and world languages. He also advised the Model United Nations, Human Rights/Amnesty International, Environmental, MEChA, Bible study, Stomp Dance and Ballet Folklórico clubs. He was also the AFS/Foreign Exchange Student adviser, a class adviser and on several committees.
Goff’s honors included being named Anti-Defamation League Teacher of the Year and a San Diego County Behavioral Health Recognition Award for his work in breaking down stereotypes and stigmas.
He earned an associate’s degree from Southwestern Community College, bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Berkeley, single subject teaching credential in social science and Spanish from the University of California, Davis, plus a bilingual certificate of competence in Spanish and master’s degree in education from the University of LaVerne.
“I wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to share my love of history and culture with others,” Goff said. “I wanted to encourage students to become active in improving their community and the world. I feed off the energy and enthusiasm of kids. I wanted to be a positive influence on others.”
Goff said teaching “definitely exceeded my expectations” because he made a difference in the world. “I cannot recall a morning when I did not want to go to school to do what I love and get paid for it,” he said.
While he said technology was negative in some ways for teachers and students, and advised taking a daily rest from it “to recharge our batteries,” Goff said distance teaching during the pandemic was “a blessing” for him. “I know many have been terribly frustrated with endless Zoom meetings and with faceless students, but I have found great joy … because I have gotten to know my students better than ever … (and) am glad I got this opportunity … under really trying circumstances.”
His retirement plans include spending time with family and friends, sports, hiking, cooking, gardening and travel. Goff and his wife also want to work with youths, their church and being a mental health advocates, he said.
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• Ulli Reiner taught in PUSD for 33 years, most recently orchestra at Bernardo Heights and Twin Peaks middle schools. She has directed several music programs in and outside the district. They include PUSD Adult School Poway Symphony Orchestra, where she has been founder, concertmaster and artistic director.
Reiner also founded and directed the Poway High School Symphony, and previously taught orchestra at Mt. Carmel High school plus Black Mountain, Mesa Verde and Meadowbrook middle schools.
Her honors include being a five-time nominated Grammy Education Award finalist since 2016 and a top 10 finalist in 2017. She was also selected for Who’s Who of American Teachers in 2000. She received top honors as an educator by the American Prize Music Award (2016-20) and since 2017 her middle school orchestra and PUSD Adult School Poway Symphonette has been a semi-finalist and finalist.
Reiner earned her bachelor’s degree in music education with an emphasis in violin and viola performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. She also earned three master’s degrees in music education, Suzuki violin and violin performance from San Diego State University, the University of Southern California and the University of San Diego.
She has also been a professional violinist with several symphonies, worked in the recording industry and been an orchestra contractor for several conductors in San Diego.
Reiner said she has served on several boards, hosted and founded the PUSD Middle School Orchestra Festival and founded the annual PUSD String Solo/Ensemble Festival. Her career memories include taking many of her PUSD orchestra students on trips to various countries to perform, such as Austria and China.
In addition to music, Reiner said she is a community volunteer, active in wildlife preservation, avian rescue and nature photography plus in the Woman of Aviation and Golden State Aviation organizations.
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• Kati DeBolt taught seventh and eighth grade science in PUSD for 30 years, most recently eighth grade at Bernardo Heights Middle School where she taught science for the past 23 years plus taught and helped coordinate the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program for a decade. She previously taught science and physical education at Twin Peaks Middle School.
DeBolt was named a Teacher of the Year at Twin Peaks and Bernardo Heights.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Biola University and master’s from National University.
“I wanted to be a teacher because working with young people has always energized me,” DeBolt said. “Science is the study of phenomena. Learning how it works is an ongoing experience, especially with advancing technology. … in teaching, there are so many opportunities to grow. AVID, in particular, created a lot of personal and professional growth because it’s about challenging students to begin to build skills that will prepare them for academic success at a four-year university.”
As for changes since she began teaching, DeBolt mentioned technology and diversity. For the latter, DeBolt said she is “very happy to see diversity no longer merely being tolerated, but actually beginning to be embraced, appreciated. It’s been a slow process though.
“Even though protections for California LGBT educators were in place in the early ‘90s, when I first started teaching, I was terrified that someone would find out that I’m gay,” DeBolt said. “I’m glad that these days, negative stereotypes and discrimination are being addressed and are steadily melting away.”
Distance teaching during the pandemic was “one of the greatest challenges I have faced in my career,” she said. “It took more time and energy than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been back in the classroom since March teaching both in-person and virtually, which has been so much better. Even though teaching and learning virtually was difficult for both students and teachers, I’m grateful we were able to pivot and adjust. It wasn’t an optimal situation, but it was better than not doing it at all. And I’m sure that lives were spared because of it.”
DeBolt said since her wife, Lori Brickely, retired from RB High three years ago and their children live in Southern California they plan on remaining in the area, but travel too. She also would like to volunteer, hike and garden.
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Also retiring are:
• Catherine Dow taught in PUSD for 34 years, most recently in the district’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program.
• Jennifer Zingg taught in PUSD for 34 years, most recently in alternative programs at multiple campuses.
• Earl Chinn taught in PUSD for 30 years, most recently physical education at Twin Peaks Middle School.
• Douglas Hargis taught in PUSD for 30 years, most recently band at Black Mountain Middle School.
• Barbara “JJ” Barlow taught in PUSD for 29 years, most recently in the district’s Xploration program at multiple campuses.
• Jenny (Yossa) Murphy taught in PUSD for 28 years, most recently special education at Meadowbrook Middle School.
• Myra Monroy taught in PUSD for 27 years, most recently at Meadowbrook Middle School.
• Margaret Spittler taught in PUSD for 25 years, most recently in alternative programs at multiple campuses.
• Kathryn Humberstone taught in PUSD for 24 years, most recently at Bernardo Heights Middle School.
• Kathleen Bevill taught in PUSD for 23 years, most recently in the district’s Xploration program at multiple campuses.
• Lynn Stephens-Zucchet taught in PUSD for 23 years, most recently eighth grade humanities at Black Mountain Middle School.
• Anne Brady taught in PUSD for 22 years, most recently at Meadowbrook Middle School.
• Evelyn Leano taught in PUSD for 22 years, most recently at Meadowbrook Middle School.
• Karen Kinard taught in PUSD for 21 years, most recently in the district’s New Directions program.
• Nancy Simpson taught in PUSD for 21 years, most recently special education at multiple campuses.
• Jean Young taught in PUSD for 20 years, most recently special education at multiple campuses.
• Cynthia Mills taught in PUSD for 19 years, most recently in the Xploration program and at Twin Peaks Middle School.
• Brian Frost taught in PUSD for 18 years, most recently sixth grade humanities/Academy at Black Mountain Middle School.
• Mary Lance taught in PUSD for 17 years, most recently at Meadowbrook Middle School.