CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — When students and parents return to Cardiff Elementary School after summer vacation on Aug. 29, some familiar faces will be missing.
Teachers Barbara Hall, Gayle Gustafson and Keith Carter and longtime office manager Sandy Logan announced their retirement at the end of the current school year. Between the four of them, they have 117 years combined tenure at the K-3 campus.
“It’s very sad,” Cardiff Principal Julie Parker said. “I will miss them as individuals, as well as their contributions to the lives of students and families.
“They are ready to move on to the next phase in life, they have done their service to students and they are moving on,” Parker said.
The teachers and office manager deferred comment to Parker, who spoke on their behalf.
Hall, who alternates as the school’s kindergarten and first grade teacher, is the longest tenured teacher at a school where teachers tend to spend their entire careers. She started in 1984, a year before Gustafson, who teaches second grade, and four years before Carter, who teaches first grade.
Logan served as office manager since 1995, the same year that Parker was named principal.
“As an office manager principal team, we have been together for 22 years,” Parker said. “I think that is unheard of.”
Parker estimates between the three teachers, they have touched the lives of some 2,500 students and their families, a testament to their longevity and impact on the school community.
“What they contribute to the culture is their caring, their dedication to students and families and the connection they make with each student and family,” she said.
Shannon Thompson, who has two daughters in Cardiff Elementary — Emelia, 9, and Madeleine, 7 — contacted The Coast News specifically about Hall, who taught both of her daughters over the past three years.
Hall, Thompson said, stirred a love for reading in her daughters that goes far beyond the normal “kiddie picture books” children read at a young age.
“We have children who want us to read them novels and chapter books,” Thompson said. “Her passion for teaching children to love to read has been really overwhelmingly impactful for our family.”
Thompson said she was impressed that over the course of her 34-year career at Cardiff, Hall only taught kindergarten and first grade.
“To sit with that many 5- and 6-year-olds that aren’t your own, that is dedication,” Thompson said.
While replacing that experience might be a daunting task in other schools, Parker said she is confident that the teachers who remain will fill the void. The least tenured member of the school faculty has been at the school for eight years, she said.
“This isn’t the end of an era,” Parker said. “I think it is important to have that nice blend between fresh new ideas and the knowledge of the culture and traditions of the school.”
Cardiff will only fill two of the positions due to declining enrollment, and will do so with teachers at the Cardiff School District’s upper campus, Ada Harris Elementary. Both teachers previously taught at Cardiff, Parker said.