Peck replaces Sutton as new Poetry teacher

September 11, 2009 — by Robin Liu and Tiffany Tung

English teacher Bill Peck first met Judith Sutton when he was her student in high school. Little did he know that four decades later he would be taking her place as the teacher of the poetry program she created.

After an incredible 40 years as an English teacher at Saratoga High, Sutton announced her retirement late in the 2009 school year. In addition, former English teacher Paul Page and math teacher Larry Bingham retired after decades of teaching.

Their retirements, however, are also marked with new beginnings, including that of English teacher Bill Peck. From being her student to being her coworker, Peck himself has known Sutton for years. Although he is looking forward to teaching the class, he knows that he has great shoes to fill.

“I’m very excited to be taking over poetry class because I worked a lot with the poets over the years,” said Peck. “I’m still really impressed with her program and how she’s brought that along, and I plan to stick with it.”

Peck transitioned into his new post by taking over Sutton’s former classroom–Peck’s previous classroom is now being used by new English 9 and English 12 teacher Valerie Arbizu. As for the curriculum, because Peck has been a part of the poetry program for the past few years, he plans to make few changes and simply continue where Sutton had left off.

“We’re sticking with the program as it is right now, as much as possible, and there will be some changes in the spring. There’ll be one [poetry] panel instead of two, and it will be simplified somewhat, but it’s a great program as it is,” he said.

During her years teaching, Sutton had helped nurture dozens of award-winning poets and writers, and many are saddened by her absence. Senior Alice Liu was reluctant to see Sutton leave, but she looks forward to having Peck take over.

“I’m sad that [Sutton] left because, even though she was a little crazy, that’s what made it fun,” said Liu. “For example, she would do all these crazy dances; she’d jump around the room and sing, and it was funny. We had a bond, like a crazy mother-type relationship, but we loved her all the same.”

In all her years at Saratoga, Sutton left a deep impression on students and teachers alike, and she will definitely be remembered for many years to come.

“She was a great teacher, and she was quite something,” said Peck. “She’s irreplaceable as a teacher. I learned a lot about [poetry and English], and I learned a lot from her.”

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