2008-2009 school year brings staff changes

June 2, 2008 — by Ben Clement nd Alex Sclavos

With the end of the year approaching, many changes are being made in preparation for next year. These include the retirement of assistant principal Gail Wasserman, another English teacher being hired and Child Psychology teacher Jill McFarlen, World History teacher Chuck Newport and guidance office staff member Becky Allen retiring.

The school replaced Wasserman’s with guidance counselor Brian Safine, but is still seeking McFarlen’s successor.

Teachers announce retirement plans

McFarlen, who has been a teacher at Saratoga High School for 37 years, has decided to retire. She says that leaving will be one of the hardest things she has ever had to do.

“I grew up here,” said McFarlen. “I started at 23. It is going to be hard to leave the great staff and students behind.”

McFarlen, who began at Saratoga as the home economics teacher, helped found the pre-school, where she now works in conjunction while teaching psychology and child psychology classes.

“She really loves her job and it is going to be almost impossible to replace her spirit,” said junior Harriet Russell, a student in McFarlen’s child psychology class.
According to assistant principal Karen Hyde, McFarlen has contributed a great deal to students and the school that will never be forgotten.
“She came at time where there were a lot of home economic teachers, which was basically a generation ago,” said Hyde. “Most were not able to adapt to the changing times, but she did and that is unique to her.”

The administration is currently going through the interview process and has a few potential applicants for her position.
Newport is leaving after 40 years of working at Saratoga High.

“After 40 years, I think it is time to have some fun,” joked Newport. “I wouldn’t say I will miss the students because that would ruin my reputation.”
Over Newport’s time here he has taught Government and World Geography, but has mainly stuck with World History. According to History in Film teacher Kim Anzalone, filling Newport’s position is not going to be easy.

“He is an icon,” said Anzalone. “Every year you expect him to be here and now he won’t. The new teacher has some big shoes to fill.”
Another staff member who will retire this year is Allen, who started out as a volunteer in 1993 and has worked in the guidance office since 1997.
Allen was in charge of staffing the College and Career Center with parent volunteers as well as training them. She also helped Wasserman with managing and updating registration information and many other tasks.

“I originally started out volunteering in the College and Career Center when my boys attended Saratoga High,” said Allen. “At one point, the office was looking for someone who could manage forms and enter them in on the computer. I was familiar with the software, and that’s sort of how I started.”
The retiring teachers will be missed, but Wasserman feels the new additions will be appreciated.

Another teacher who will be leaving Saratoga High next year is math teacher and department head Mike Navrides, who is leaving to fill an opening at Los Gatos High. He will continue to teach AP Statistics and Algebra 2.

Navrides said he decided to teach at Los Gatos because he feels he is ready to do something different.
In addition, because the statistics program was started only two years ago at Los Gatos, it is not yet as successful as the program at Saratoga High. Navrides hopes to improve the program to meet the needs of the students there.

English class sizes reduced

Next year, the English Department plans to add five more sections after a district decision to decrease class sizes. English Department chair Cathy Head hopes that this will reduce class sizes.

One section will be added to English 10 and two to English 11 Honors to help reduce class sizes and workloads for teachers, so that they can focus more attention on individual students. English Language AP will also have another section. Also, there will be one section added to English 9 classes for students who come in during the summer.

Next year’s teaching schedules changed

Not only are teachers retiring, but there are also changes to next year’s staff.
“Mrs. Tseng will be increasing one period as well as teaching the English Language Development Class, and Mrs. Battey will be increasing to full time teaching,” said Wasserman.

Drama and English teacher Chris Mahle will teach only drama next year. Also, current first-year and AP Biology teacher Bob Kucer will exchange his introductory biology class for Chemistry Honors, a class he previously taught.

The school will be hiring a new English teacher, Ken Nguyen, who teach AP Language and English 10. Nguyen is coming from Leland High School, where he also taught English.

1 view this week