This year’s retiring teachers
June 21, 2017
Two teachers are retiring this year: dance and yoga teacher Kathleen Exar and health and fitness teacher Roberta Skoff. Read about their time at the high school and watch videos of their students and colleagues speaking about them below.
After 30 teaching dance and yoga, Kathleen Exar will retire. Exar, who fellow dance and yoga teacher Mayra Hernandez said has “a beautiful spirit and a big heart,” is known among her students and colleagues for her constant energy and love of dancing.
Junior Lyra Johnson, who took Exar’s intermediate dance class, said that her first impression of Exar was her passion for dancing and teaching.
“The first day, we walked into her classroom for dance class, and she was already moving and really excited to have us start a new year,” Johnson said.
According to one of Exar’s students, junior Emily Gerson, Exar has an eccentric fashion sense. Hernandez said that Exar is always up with the newest fashion trends.
“She would have her nails always done different colors, and that’s what I admired about her. And she would wear different hair extensions with colors so she could add a pop, and I loved that, because it was really hip,” Hernandez said. “She’s a very colorful, vibrant being.”
Gerson said she admires Exar’s ability to dance like nobody is watching. Johnson said she learned from Exar to not take herself too seriously.
“She was always very happy and very willing to put herself out there,” Johnson said.
Exar’s classes are fun-spirited, according to her students. Junior Kaela Flashman said that one especially funny moment in class was when Exar taught the students how to dougie. Additionally, students do more choreographing in Exar’s class than in most other dances, which many students enjoy. According to Johnson, her class’s Progressions dance was 50 percent student-choreographed.
“I know some of the other classes get to choreograph but not that much, and so it was really unique that she let us craft the dance ourselves,” Johnson said.
Hernandez said that Exar is always ready to dance, no matter the situation.
“You put on music, she’s ready to dance. You say that there’s a performance, she’s in the back dancing. Dance is just such a part of her life and it’s so branded and embedded in all of her muscle fibers,” Hernandez said.
After 38 years on the job, health and fitness teacher Roberta Skoff has decided to retire.
Her passion and devotion to a healthy living style will surely leave a mark on the health and fitness curriculum in years to come.
Skoff wants to have coffee in the morning and read the paper cover to cover. She looks forward to not having to prepare lesson plans and grade papers.
“I’m probably going to miss some of that, but I just think that it’s time to give the reins over to younger people,” Skoff said.
When Skoff first began her career, she initially taught as a permanent substitute teacher. Her excellent work ethic and dedication earned her a position as a full-time teacher in a short eight weeks. She worked under nine different department heads and said that she has learned many valuable things from each of them.
“I looked up to these people in my department; they were very professional and everybody coached at the time after school, and they all had their expertise in some area,” Skoff said.
According to Skoff, one of her fondest memories from the high school was coaching softball and cheerleading. It gave her the opportunity to make long-lasting bonds with her students.
“I just saw one of my students from 35 years ago on Harvard Street. She was one of my first students; I taught both of her sons and it was a nice moment,” Skoff said. “There’s a woman at Pierce who’s been teaching for many years who was one of my students. Now we’re very close.”
Skoff had to take some time off and become a part-time teacher when she had her children.
“If I had more time, more energy, more time in the day, looking back, I would have wanted to administrate,” Skoff said. “I would have wanted to really promote our department so that we are significant.”
Skoff described herself as a person who “eats and breathes health and fitness.” She believes that everyone should be educated on both physical and emotional health.
“I think it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle in order to focus on other things that you want to accomplish in life,” Skoff said. “I have always tried to gear my education and focus on students who claim that they hate gym; I try to make it fun for those students so they turn around and they like to exercise regardless of their athletic abilities.”
Skoff said that her time at the high school was very valuable.
“It is very surreal because this has really been my life. I have been here since I was 20-years-old, and I really do wish everyone the best,” Skoff said.