When I entered sophomore year, I found I needed to choose an Asian Study class. Naturally, my Indian mother wanted me to take History of India. I had no interest in the subject until I met the teacher, Mr. Stag, or as he prefered to be called “Staggo.” I absolutely loved his childlike personality combined with his quick smile and nicknames for everyone he met. Veterans of the class told stories of amazing experiences they had with him and the class. Suddenly, learning about my own history sounded great.
At least until Staggo left SAS. Staggo was one of the many teachers who had reached the retirement age at the end of the 2013-14 school year and had to leave the school and his beloved students.
In the last few years, SAS has lost a number of beloved teachers. From Mr. Adams and his notebook checks to Mr. Norman’s IASAS success, the students were in shock when they discovered that the culprit of their loss was the pesky retirement-age rule.
This is where the confusion set in. Somehow, the students came to the conclusion that the school administration had suddenly cracked down on the retirement age policy. Kyle Conaty, a class of 2014 alumni said, “I couldn’t believe it when I found out my favorite teachers were being forced to leave. Some of them were the best teachers I had ever had and it’s just a shame that the students are losing out on their teaching.”
The funny thing is that the school board created the retirement age limit nearly five years ago, in 2009. There was nothing sudden about the enforcement.
According to Dr. Farney, the principal of the high school, the retirement age policy was made to coincide with the Singapore retirement age of 65. It was purely coincidental that so many teachers reached the age limit in the same year. “I’m not privy to all the decisions on the board level; however, I do know that it was made before Dr. Kimbell (the current superintendent) came in. It was during the time of Dr. Much. I know it was influenced by the Singapore law and other practices in other places. Again, we are not necessarily privy to all the discussion around the people who made this decision.”
Students who had been taught by these teachers were heartbroken. “I was so disappointed when I found out Mr. Adams was leaving. He was the best math teacher I ever had,” said senior Jessica Allen.
Other students who never had the opportunity to be taught by these teachers were also devastated by the loss of the experience. “I really wanted to have Mr. Norman as a Spanish teacher. Everyone told me he was the funniest,” Allen continued.
The students will always miss their teachers, and as Dr. Farney said, “We value the people who have given so much to us and helped build this wonderful school and are missed and need to be valued for their time.”
While I understand that SAS was simply adapting their policies to comply with Singapore law, I feel it was a mistake and a tremendous loss to lose teachers who are 65 years young and in the prime of their wise teaching years. SAS will not be the same place without them. If the Singapore retirement age is raised in the future, I hope SAS will do the same for their teachers.