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Teacher, counselor parting with long-time career

Retiring staff members look back with fondness on 30-plus years as educators
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Two Placer High educators are saying farewell after a combined career total of more than 60 years. In Doug Stryker’s 30-plus-year tenure, he said the greatest moments he had as a teacher occurred daily. The 62-old-year science instructor said the best part of his career was waking up every morning and feeling excited to go to work. “I feel lucky that every year I’ve enjoyed it,” Stryker said Thursday. Stryker has taught every science class at the high school except for physics. He also coached 42 boys and girls sports teams. “I like to work with kids other than just in the classroom,” Stryker said. This year he steps down from his post as head of the school’s science department, which is a position he has held since 1981. Stryker’s road to Placer High 30 years ago almost took a wrong turn — literally. While living in Southern California, Stryker sent about 60 letters to just about every school district north of Stockton. Placer High was one of two responses he received when then-principal Jug Covich called him. “At first I almost went to Placerville when I saw that the school was called Placer High School,” Stryker said. “Luckily, I looked on a map.” Now that his final school year is coming to an end, Stryker said he is looking forward to the free time he will have. He said he will not miss hearing his alarm sound at 5:30 in the morning. He’s also going to enjoy weekends free of paper grading, he added. As to his other future plans, he remains undecided. Stryker said, however, that he will not disappear from the Placer High scene. He will continue to coach the girls golf team for at least a year. He also plans to cheer on Placer teams as a spectator at games. “I really love Placer High,” Stryker said. “I just like the sense of community here. I’ve had kids in class whose parents were in my class. It just kind of became a part of me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Bev Martin has seen almost all of the class of 2008 since their first days on Placer High School’s campus. She said being their counselor through that experience has been “exciting.” “I like that you see the progression,” Martin said. “You see the changes and hopefully they’re for the positive.” Martin will retire this year after seven years as a counselor at Placer High and after more than 30 years as an educator. Martin began her teaching career in the 1970s as a teacher in a Southern California school district. In 1977 she transferred to Golden Sierra High School where she taught and counseled until 2001. Over the course of 15 years, Martin said she’s noticed that counselors have seen less and less students coming in for help with the college application process. She explained that students used to have to visit the counselor to pick up a college application. Now, students can send their information to colleges via the Internet. “It’s certainly an excellent resource but it doesn’t sometimes keep us quite as connected with the students,” Martin said. “We have to work harder to stay connected.” Helping students has always been the draw for Martin to become a teacher and later a counselor. “You’re a little like a parent,” Martin said. “When you’re a counselor, you’re helping students brainstorm, helping them make good choices and providing them with the knowledge to make good choices. That’s been the challenge but the fun part of the job at the same time.” Now that Martin herself is leaving the high school campus for good, she said she has initial plans to “travel, travel, travel.” The highlights of her job she said are helping students make their post-graduate decisions, and watching “marginal” students pull through high school years. “It’s nice when you help them see the light at the end of the tunnel and then seeing their excitement as you hand them their diploma,” Martin said. “It was a good career choice for me and I’ve enjoyed working with young people.” The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment at auburnjournal.com.