Poway Unified bids farewell to its retiring high school teachers

June 17, 2021

This week 27 Poway Unified School District high school teachers are concluding their careers.

Those who taught in the district for 30 or more years were invited to reflect on their careers. Eight chose to participate.

PUSD’s retiring elementary teachers were featured on June 3. To read it, click here. Those at the middle school level will be featured in a future issue.

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Peggy Brose has taught in PUSD for 45 years, with the last 31 at Rancho Bernardo High where she is the athletic director. She previously taught at Mt. Carmel High, where she coached volleyball, softball, basketball and was the physical education department chair.

Peggy Brose in the school's gymnasium.

Peggy Brose

(Charlie Neuman)

During her years at RB, Brose has coached varsity basketball, been a member of the CIF State Basketball and State Athletic Administrator Advisory committees, physical education department chair and Western Association of Schools and Colleges coordinator.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in ergonomics/physical education from the University of California, Santa Barbara; teaching credential from the University of California, Davis and master’s degree in physical education from Azusa Pacific College.

“Growing up my teachers had a huge impact on my life,” Brose said. “(They) helped me grow socially, emotionally and gave me confidence in my ability to successfully lead and mentor others. They were my role models and as a result, I wanted to give back ... to positively impact the lives of young people just as my teachers had done for me.”

Brose said the profession “far exceeded” her expectations. “It’s been a great career and credit is due to so many people who have positively impacted me along the way.”

While not having special plans for retirement, Brose said, “I have many books I’d like to read, places I’d like to travel to, and RBHS athletic events I want to attend without worrying if I remembered to order a cash box and arrange for officials.”

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Donna Liska has taught in PUSD for 40 years. With the exception of her first year at Mt. Carmel High, the rest were at Poway High where she taught math. At PHS she was a class, Keywanette and Up With Girls Club adviser; math department co-chair and Poway Federation of Teachers site representative.

Donna Liska

Donna Liska

(Courtesy photo)

Liska said she received various teacher appreciation and outstanding staff members recognitions, and was inducted into the Keywanettes Hall of Fame.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Minnesota State University and her administrative and counseling credentials at Point Loma College.

“I became a teacher because I wanted to change the world,” Liska said. “I struggled with math in high school, but with the support of some excellent teachers, I overcame my anxieties and insecurities about being able to understand math. I learned first-hand that an excellent teacher could impact my future and I wanted to become a teacher that would make this difference in the lives of my own students.”

Liska said technology has changed teaching drastically. “(It) is amazing and can be incredibly supportive, but it can also hurt a student that simply looks an answer up and never takes the time to learn why.”

She said teaching during the pandemic was “painfully challenging. I missed being in the classroom, being able to see students instead of blank Zoom boxes. It has been one of the most difficult years I’ve had. Learning math is challenging. Trying to do so online is challenging squared.”

Her retirement plans include travel, visiting family, sleeping in late and doing projects she has been putting off, she said.

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Divona Roy has taught in PUSD for 37 years, all at Poway High where she taught English and coached the Academic Team.

Divona Roy

Divona Roy

(Courtesy photo)

She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from San Diego State University and master’s degree in teaching from National University. She was also a San Diego Area Writing Project Fellow and National Board Certified Teacher.

“I always loved school, teachers, after-school services aides, participating in extra-curricular activities and learning about everything possible,” Roy said. “In sixth grade, I wrote my career paper about either becoming a camp counselor or a teacher. ... I wanted to make a difference and thought that helping teens achieve their goals would be rewarding. Plus getting to work every day on a school campus, where people care, sounded like paradise.”

Roy added, “I love my job and cannot imagine having a more fulfilling career. Teens are vibrant and amazing; they have ideas and goals, and they want to succeed. Every day is different and energizing, and watching students grow in their ability to communicate effectively with others makes me excited for the future.”

She said there were two advantages to teaching online during the pandemic. “First, students have done more revision and grown more as writers because it has been easier for them to stay in class and meet for revision conferences. Second, it has been wonderful as far as curricular team planning is concerned, though it has added a ton of hours to the work week.”

Roy said her retirement plans include discovering new places, reading, visiting with family, crafting and traveling to presidential libraries.

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Lee Raskin has taught social science in PUSD for 34 years, all at Mt. Carmel High where he most recently taught Advanced Placement European history.

Lee Raskin

Lee Raskin

(Courtesy photo)

He also was the North County Academic League moderator for 30 years and advised several student-run clubs, including Speech and Debate, Helping Hands and Jewish Culture Club.

Raskin earned a bachelor’s degree in European history from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in educational technology at National University. Special honors included being recognized at Mt. Carmel’s graduation ceremonies several times and The Church of Latter-day Saints’ Crystal Apple Award in 2017.

He chose to become a teacher during college, where Raskin said, “I discovered — by accident — that I had a knack for connecting with and teaching people. From the very first, it was never like work to me. I’ve been at this for 35 years and I’ve never ‘worked’ a day in my life!”

Raskin said teaching has been “a most rewarding career” and he enjoyed working with teenagers. “I have always felt that my work has the ability to improve the lives of my students, as well as society at large. ... It is my most deeply held hope that the world is a fractionally better place because I was here.”

Teaching during the pandemic was “a major challenge for me,” Raskin said, explaining his “knack for teaching is closely connected to being in the same room as my students, developing relationships that encourage learning success, and I have found that to be difficult in a remote setting.”

Raskin said his retirement plans include off-season travel and continuing to live in San Diego.

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Kris J. Hizal has been with PUSD for 33 years, most recently as director for the Poway Federation of Teachers since 2017. Before that, Hizal taught at Mt. Carmel High for 28 years (1989-2017) and a year at Twin Peaks Middle School (1988-89).

Kris Hizal

Kris Hizal

(Courtesy photo)

Hizal has also been a freshman Academic League coach, in 2009-10 was Mt. Carmel’s “Teacher of the Year” and in 2010 a Poway Unified “Teacher of the Year.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degree in education from Queens College in New York.

As for why Hizal wanted to be a teacher, he said it was due to an incident in seventh grade where he felt a teacher treated him unfairly. “I decided at that moment that I was going to be a history teacher and that I would never treat my students unfairly,” he recalled. “I can honestly say I strived throughout my career to be fair.”

He added, “Teaching greatly exceeded my expectations. I loved it from the very beginning.”

According to Hizal, “Teachers are much more versatile today (than when I started) and the expectations are so high. There is a lot less lecturing and a lot more technology. Students come in with access to just about any topic you can present, so it’s important to create lessons that develop skills that will serve students in the future.”

Hizal said special memories include presenting his sons their diplomas at Mt. Carmel, and the growth in number of students taking AP U.S. government and politics classes plus their success at passing the AP exam for college credit.

His retirement plans include lots of travel. “So far, I have nine vacations, including four cruises, planned between July and March,” he said.

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John Graber has taught in PUSD for 32 years, all of them teaching English at Poway High. For 20 years he taught AP English literature and composition.

John Graber

John Graber

(Marie-Louise Graber)

Graber said he coached boys varsity tennis from 1990 to 1993 and in 1990 the team won a CIF championship. He was named Poway High’s “Teacher of the Year” in 2001.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from the University of California, Irvine and a master’s degree in education from National University.

“I went into teaching because there’d been teachers in my life that had made a difference and I hoped to return the favor,” Graber said. “The profession was both harder and more rewarding than I thought.”

According to Graber, the use of technology has greatly changed teaching. “But at its heart, effective teaching still comes down to the same thing — being able to connect with students.”

Graber said doing distance learning has been very tough for students and teachers. “For me, it’s been one of the most challenging years of my career. I’ve sometimes felt as frustrated and overwhelmed as I did when I was a first-year teacher.”

As for his retirement plans, Graber said he will stay in the area and for now, read all the books he wanted to read, but could not due to the time needed to read students’ papers.

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Dan Lutgen has taught in PUSD for 31 years, with the last 13 as a social science teacher at Westview High. He previously taught at Mt. Carmel and Rancho Bernardo high schools. He also coached the roller hockey team at Mesa Verde Middle School and junior varsity hockey team at Westview High, and was the Academic League coach at RB and Westview.

Dan Lutgen

Dan Lutgen

(Courtesy photo)

His honors include being “Teacher of the Year” at RB High for 2006-07 plus a PUSD “Teacher of the Year.” He was also “Teacher of the Year” for 2016-17 at Westview High and received a 2016 Crystal Apple “Teacher of the Year” award.

Lutgen earned his associate’s degree at Palomar College; bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge; plus his teaching certification and master’s degree in educational technology from National University.

“I became interested in teaching by my tenth grade at Orange Glen High School,” Lutgen said. “Mom, aunt and uncle were all teaching for Poway Unified during their careers (plus) my father teaching at various locations. Thus, I knew the lifestyle and w ork required to become an effective teacher. I loved learning history in high school and during my free time all my life, so this seemed to be a perfect fit for me.

“Additionally, I had two college professors that were amazing teachers and made history ‘come to life,’” he added. “They served as role models for me to follow, the way they made the learning of history so interesting.”

As for retirement, Lutgen said, “Minnesota and family visits await ... With sons in Sacramento and Bozeman, Montana, I will now have the chance to visit them more than just the traditional holidays. Minnesota life will include a lot of time on our kayaks in our beautiful Lake Miltona.”

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Scott Renner has taught in PUSD for 31 years, with the last 24 as an English teacher at Abraxas High School. He previously taught at Bernardo Heights Middle School.

Scott Renner

Scott Renner

(Courtesy photo)

He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in education from San Diego State University.

“I wanted a career that would positively impact our world,” Renner said. “My teaching career exceeded my expectations in that I could not envision the amazing students I’d have the opportunity to work with throughout my career.”

Renner said the rise of social media, cell phones and video games made teaching more difficult over the years, yet “in some ways easier.” He added that students’ challenges and celebrations remained consistent over his career, but “were often impacted by historical and societal events along the way.”

According to Renner, “Success at Abraxas has always been based on a close working relationship between student and teacher. Virtual learning disrupted this process. Since returning to the classroom, academic production has markedly increased, reiterating the importance of the unique personalized academic environment Abraxas provides.”

Renner said his students’ resilience, perseverance, diversity and stories that they demonstrated and shared “enriched and humbled me throughout my teaching career.”

In retirement, Renner said he plans to challenge himself in his many interests, such as bicycling, running, gardening, camping, hiking, reading and writing. He also will explore new interests and is looking forward to experiences with family.

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Also retiring are:

Thomas Martin taught in PUSD for 35 years, most recently physical education at Rancho Bernardo High.

Teresa Jolk taught in PUSD for 33 years, most recently Spanish at Poway High.

Monique Lamphiere-Tamayoshi taught in PUSD for 30 years, most recently English at Mt. Carmel High.

Christopher Vitous taught in PUSD for 29 years, most recently social science at Mt. Carmel High.

Gabriele Zois taught in PUSD for 29 years, most recently English at Mt. Carmel High.

Thomas Farber taught in PUSD for 28 years, most recently math at Rancho Bernardo High.

Daniel Crane taught in PUSD for 26 years, most recently math at Poway High.

Maria Faulk taught in PUSD for 25 years, most recently as a teacher librarian at Mt. Carmel High.

Marilyn Allotta taught in PUSD for 22 years, most recently math at Rancho Bernardo High.

Michael Bird taught in PUSD for 21 years, most recently science at Mt. Carmel High.

Robert Whitney taught in PUSD for 21 years, most recently science at Westview High.

Lynne Floto taught in PUSD for 20 years, most recently English at Rancho Bernardo High.

Jodee Janda taught in PUSD for 20 years, most recently science at Mt. Carmel High.

Jacqueline Wight-Crivello taught in PUSD for 20 years, most recently French at Rancho Bernardo High

Judith Iverson taught in PUSD for 19 years, most recently math at Poway High.

Marion Von Ehrenstein-Smith taught in PUSD for 19 years, most recently German at Poway High.

Cheryl Coe taught in PUSD for 17 years, most recently math at Poway High.

Joseph Ruggieri taught in PUSD for 12 years, most recently as a teacher librarian at Del Norte High.

Ryan Tu taught in PUSD for 12 years, most recently Mandarin at Del Norte High.