It seems that teachers are unchanging constants in a student’s life, always there to give homework and advice. However, this year, four teachers will be retiring from Diamond Bar High School: math teacher Howard Alcosser, foreign language teachers Christine Buccola and Sue Benner, and fine arts teacher and tennis coach David Hamel.
Alcosser has been a part of DBHS staff since the school’s opening in 1982 and currently teaches AP Calculus BC and Math HL. While DBHS isn’t the only school that he has taught at, it is definitely the school that he has had the most influence on.
For example, every year, Alcosser hosts an event for former DBHS calculus students to return to give advice and relate their experiences to current calculus students. Additionally, as an AP consultant for the College Board, he occasionally hosts workshops to help teachers with their AP classes. He has also previously given presentations at AP conferences and math teacher conferences on motivating students to succeed.
“When I was a kid, I really liked my school and my teachers – especially my math teachers. So I thought, ‘this is where I want to be,’” Alcosser said via e-mail.
On the other hand, Buccola started at DBHS by working as a long-term substitute teacher, filling in for three different teachers in 1988 before finally becoming a permanent teacher a year later. She taught different subjects at various private schools and junior colleges, and has worked as a “home teacher” as well before coming to DBHS.
During her first years at DBHS, Buccola originally taught Spanish 1 and 2 classes. Later, she created the AP Spanish class for higher-level students, and following that, the Spanish 3 Honors class because she felt that one year to teach all of the AP curriculum wasn’t enough. Buccola says that she has wanted to be a teacher ever since she was a child, citing her elementary school teacher as a source of inspiration.
“I see all the time that people want to be challenged. People don’t want to pass away the time; they want to feel like it was worth it, and that’s what I try to do every day,” Buccola said.
Another Spanish teacher, Benner, has announced her retirement as well. She started teaching in 1980 in Arizona, but moved to California and began teaching at DBHS in 1985. Aside from DBHS, Benner also worked briefly at South Pointe Middle School and Walnut Elementary. Although this year will mark the end of her teaching career, Benner still has many goals, including volunteering at convalescent homes and learning new skills, like gardening and playing the piano.
“Teaching has been a blessing. I have been able to be a ‘positive’ in the world. It has been a wonderful time for me, but now it is time to move on,” Benner said via e-mail.
The athletics department will be losing a familiar face too. Hamel, who has worked at DBHS for 16 years, is giving up his art room and the tennis courts to dedicate himself to other activities after retirement.
“Learning and growing never stop. It may sound self-inflating, but I can’t think of too many careers where you have this unique opportunity to mold a person’s life,” Hamel said.
Even though the four teachers work in different departments and teach different classes, they seem to agree that the thing they will miss the most about DBHS is the students and familiarity.
“I’m going to miss interacting with my students. I’m going to miss Diamond Bar because it’s my home. It’s a family place to me; it’s comfortable and it’s a good, safe place to be. I don’t feel like this is a job, and that’s why it’s hard for me to retire,” Buccola said.