Linda Morris, other teachers to retire in the fall
by Zoe Greene
Published May 6, 2011
Palo Alto High School physical education teacher Linda Morris and four other Paly teachers will retire this fall, according to the April 5 school board meeting.
Morris began her career as a P.E. teacher and swim coach in 1969 and started full-time work at Paly in January 1996. According to Morris, many things have changed over the 17 years that she has taught at Paly.
“The main thing that’s changed are the facilities; it’s unbelievable what’s happened with the facilities here at Paly,” Morris said. “When I first got here we had a dirt track, and whenever we had P.E. and it was rainy, the kids would slip and fall in the mud.”
On a deeper level, Morris noted a change in the lives of the students and its effect on her teaching.
“I think I’ve become more understanding of kids’ problems and their living situations – maybe not more sympathetic but more able to cope with the various scenarios that kids are living under,” Morris said. “I don’t think life’s very easy for kids anymore because they don’t have sound families and their parents are maybe not living at home with them. You know, they have to have P.E. clothes for Mom’s house and P.E. clothes for Dad’s house.”
Following her departure from Paly, Morris said she would miss the students most.
“It’s very important for adults to work with students because I think students need stable adults in their lives,” Morris said. “I may have offered to some kids a place to come and talk and maybe share some of their problems with me, so I guess I will miss being their counselor-at-large, so to speak.”
Fellow P.E. teacher Kay Gibson commended Morris for her dedication to the students. The duo has taught together at Paly for 16 years.
“She is such a hard-working teacher,” Gibson said. “She goes out of her way for students and other teachers in the department.”
Junior athlete Rachelle Holmgren expresses a similar sentiment.
“It will be sad to see her leave because she was one of those teachers that you could tell really cared about her students and their happiness,” Holmgren said. “She encouraged everyone to give 100% in every timed run or sport.”
Reflecting on her last year at Paly, Morris noted that she maintained a greater sense of humor with her students.
“[Previously] I was afraid that they [the students] would get the upper hand and then I would lose control of my classes,” she said. “But this year, knowing that it’s my last year, I’ve had a lot of fun.”
According to Morris, in her retirement she plans to help her daughter, a swim coach, raise her two-year-old child.
Although Morris will be leaving Paly, her legacy will not be lost.
“She has done a lot for Paly that we should all be grateful for,” Holmgren said.
Other Paly teachers retiring this year include Janet Urbina, Lynn Hori, Judy Niizawa, and Kay Van Der Burg.
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