Wasserman retires after 36 years in local education

April 16, 2008 — by Ketaki Shriram

The story first appeared in the March 21 issue of The Saratoga Falcon.

At the end of this school year, the school will say goodbye to one of its most beloved staff members: assistant principal Gail Wasserman. She has chosen to retire at the end of this year after 36 years in local education.

A replacement for Wasserman has not been found yet; the position has been advertised , and interviewing will begin in April. Staff and students alike are unwavering in their admiration of the assistant principal and contributions to the Saratoga school system.

“She’s got an incredible depth of wisdom of how to really do what’s right for kids on this campus,” said biology teacher Lisa Cochrum. “I think she understands the pressure for students, kids, administrators and how to keep that balance going.”

The opportunity to work with high school students and help them to achieve their goals has always been a passion for Wasserman. After her graduating from college, Wasserman began her teaching career at Redwood Middle School. After working as a teacher, counselor, and finally as a principal there for 21 years, Wasserman moved to Saratoga High in 1993 to continue her career as a guidance counselor.

In this position, she was able to interact with many students, helping them through their high school careers and with their college process. Her job as guidance counselor officially ended in 2000, when Wasserman became the assistant principal overseeing the guidance department.
Her job entailed her working closely with staff members while continuing her constant involvement with school events, both activities that she enjoyed immensely. Involvement in student groups was another key part of Wasserman’s job—she has been adviser to California Scholarship Federation, the Diversity Task Force and on the follow-up WASC Committee, among others.

Earlier this year, her husband’s retirement prompted her to consider this option as well, something she believes to be a natural progression. In retirement, Wasserman said she will be able to travel more with her husband and visit relatives she was unable to see often while working. Although she has chosen to leave SHS, Wasserman will miss many aspects of her job, especially the close interaction with students.

Many staff members are saddened by Wasserman’s retirement and will miss working with her. Health and Drivers Ed teacher Amy Obenour, who has been at SHS for the past 15 years, said, “Anytime I have an absolutely tough situation, Gail Wasserman is one of the first people I go to.”

Other teachers will also be sad to see Wasserman leave.

“When I was a new teacher, I can remember a couple of times where I had done something wrong, or the kid had done something wrong, and she offered incredible advice,” said Cochrum. “She was able to look beyond the complications of the actual circumstance into a bigger picture and really give me a vision of what would be best for the kid and for the other students in the classroom.”

The positive impact Wasserman has had on students is best reflected by the feelings of those she worked closely with, like those on the Diversity Task Force (DTF), a group on campus dedicated to encouraging tolerance on campus.

“I feel bad for all the people that are going to come through this high school, and not have the experience of meeting [Ms. Wasserman],” said DTF member Katie Low, a senior. “She is an extraordinary woman.”

Although she will no longer be working at SHS, Wasserman plans on visiting the school often and remaining in contact with many of the close friends she has made over the years. She is also considering working as a private counselor during retirement as a way to stay close to students.

“We will greatly miss Mrs. Wasserman,” said Obenour. “Whoever’s replacing her will bring the same amount of energy and positivity to the administrative team and will be able to continue on the tradition of her care and love for Saratoga.”

3 views this week