Four Teachers Will Bid Farewell at School Year’s End

By Gareth Kwok, Editor-in-Chief

// With the 2016-17 school year coming to a close, some of Acalanes’ beloved teachers will close their doors for good. Bear Begelman, Susan Lane, Bob Barter, and Bruce Downing have announced their retirements effective at the end of the school year.

Bear Begelman

   Bear Begelman, who teaches Architectural Design as well as Design and Fabrication, has decided it is time to move on from his teaching career after 18 years, 12 of those years at Acalanes. Begelman felt that the time was right to retire and wanted to pursue the plans ahead of him.

   “It’s just time. I don’t have any other explanation,” Begelman said. “I still love kids and love to teach, but it’s just time for me to do something else.”

   His retirement plans include working on home projects as well continuing to pursue his hobbies.

   “I’m going to rebuild a woodshop in my house,” Begelman said. “I paint and do photography and I like to do energy work, like reiki, healing touch, and healing arts.”

   The thing that he will miss the most is the students, as he enjoyed their company and getting to know them better.

   “I just like hanging out with you guys,” Begelman said. “My world is going to become very small, but it will become a lot simpler.”

   As he reflects back, Begelman is happy to have been part of the Acalanes community and enjoyed everything about teaching,

   “I loved it here,” Begelman said. “I really loved it.”

   Junior Ryan Karow has enjoyed his 2nd period Architectural Design class mainly because of Begelman’s personality and class structure.

   “He’s really funny and his class isn’t stressful,” Karow said. “It’s really fun and relaxing to work on architecture.”

Susan Lane

   After 22 years of teaching, 19 at Acalanes, Digital Design teacher Susan Lane feels now is the time to leave her teaching position and live life to its fullest.

   “I plan to travel, play golf, and work out,” Lane said. She is also planning on spending “quality time with family and friends and play with my kids and granddaughter.”

   In addition, Lane is looking forward to sleeping- in and not having to worry about getting up early in the morning.

   “My plans for retirement are to throw away my alarm clock and live in the moment and not have to plan anything, as well as to continue learning,” Lane said.

   As she looks back on her achievements over nearly two decades teaching at Acalanes, she is most proud of creating the Digital Design program.

   “It has been very rewarding to watch it become so successful. I am very grateful that I was able to teach my students to strive not only to become successful, but also to be of value,” Lane said. “I love teaching them meaningful life skills that will be useful in every facet of their lives.”

   The one thing she will miss most about teaching, like most of the retiring teachers, is the students.

  Lane said she will miss “the students and their curiosity, enthusiasm, and passion to learn.”

   Junior Trevor Stripling enjoyed Lane’s quirkiness, teaching style, and the overall excitement that came along with her Digital Design 1 class.

   “I hope that whoever is the new teacher makes the class important to them as much as it was to Ms. Lane, because she did really care for and appreciate her students’ work,” Stripling said.

Bruce Downing

   Math teacher and Students for the Advancement of Global Education (SAGE) Club adviser Bruce Downing is retiring after 34 years of teaching. The versatile Downing, who currently teaches Calculus AB, Geometry Honors, and Algebra 2, had a brief explanation on the reason for his retirement, which is very similar to Barter and Begelman.

   “It’s time,” Downing said. “I’ve got grandchildren and I’d rather spend time with them than with the students right now.”

   After 18 years at Acalanes, as well as 12 years at Albany, his retirement plans include taking care of his grandchildren and going on vacation.

      Downing is proud to have the opportunity to foster curiosity and learning in his students, something that he values.

   “I’ve always said an important part of any person’s life is to transition them from entering high school to entering college,” Downing said. “Being able to help out with that is good, and I like the positive energy that the students here have. I will miss them.”

   Downing has impacted the lives of many students, including junior Sasha Schtein.

   “Mr. Downing, on top of teaching geometry and calculus, mainly taught me discipline and grew my self-determination and drive,” Schtein said.

   Downing said he will also miss his fellow staff members.

   “I like my colleagues, too, and the community. Everything about this is really positive,” Downing said. “It’s been a pleasure to be here more so than other places that I have been to.”

   He is very proud to have been the adviser of SAGE for many years and is excited for what is to come for the student-run club.

   “I was very concerned about getting replacements for the SAGE club advisory in place,” Downing said. “Over the last four to five years, SAGE has taken on a very significant place here at Acalanes High School and it should continue.”

Bob Barter

    After 14 years, Washington, D.C. native Bob Barter has decided that it is time to move on to the next chapter of his life. The World History and Comparative Government teacher had a simple response on why he’s retiring.

   “My wife said it was time,” Barter said. “That’s exactly what I say.”

   As far as retirement plans, they are still up in the air, according to Barter.

   “It’s kind of ‘to be determined.’ We’re going to travel some. I’m probably going to spend a couple months thinking about what I want to do,” Barter said. “I’ll probably come back and substitute a few classes. I don’t have anything that I have really cemented in.”

   He enjoyed his students the most during his tenure, especially with getting to know them better and feeling their energy every day.

   “The students have been great and I’ve just enjoyed being around them. The energy that they exude picks up for me and that’s been the thing that’s been the most fun,” Barter said. “I’ve just had largely wonderful groups of kids. I can count on one hand the number of classes that I would say, ‘I’d rather not do that again.’ Everything else has been incredibly positive, and I’ve just enjoyed the whole community. It’s just been wonderful.”

   Of all the things he will miss, grading won’t be one of them.

   “I really will miss the students. I won’t miss the grading. The grading I won’t miss but virtually everything else I’ll miss,” Barter said.

   Senior Annie Varellas will remember not only Barter’s teaching style but also the attention that he gave each student.

   “He has been above and beyond considerate of the student’s needs and genuinely cares about them as individuals and their futures,” Varellas said. “He is always available when in need of academic or life advice.”

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