Mrs. Williams Says Farewell
Original post made by Sherry Williams, Donlon Elementary School, on Jun 2, 2009
A personal history and a letter of gratitude to the Pleasanton community.....it has been a pleasure to serve you!
This is a letter of gratitude to the community of Pleasanton for my lifetime in education. This is my farewell to the Pleasanton community as I retire from teaching 36 years in P.U.S. D. It has been my sincere pleasure to serve the Pleasanton community as an educator.
I am Sherry Allison Williams.
I was born in Livermore at St. Paul's hospital, as there was no hospital in Pleasanton in 1947. My parents lived in the Avila apartments on Vineyard Ave. Our apartment #7 is still there. When I was three, my family lived in the government housing project across the street where the Kottinger Village park is now. This was housing reserved for WWII veterans and since my father was a Marine, he qualified. Then we moved to a house that still stands on Stanley Blvd. It has a fish pond in front and I still remember feeding those goldfish handfuls of Quaker oats each morning. I also have a photo of me, dressed in a cowboy outfit, sitting on the front steps of this house. Then my folks bought a lot on Division Street and my dad began to build the house at 874 Division where my mom still lives. I moved there in 1950. I did not go to kindergarten and instead attended Susie Niedt's nursery school in Dublin where the Springs apartments are now. There is an historical landmark on the spot today and it has nothing to do with Susie'e school. I went to first grade in the two-room schoolhouse located near the intersection of Dublin Blvd. and San Ramon Valley Blvd. At that time, the Cronin ranch was on the previous Mervyn's site. The principal at my Murray school was Mrs. Sputorno and I was in the room with grades 1 to 4. Each grade had a row of kids and I would finish my first grade work so that I could listen to what the teacher, Mrs. Brandt, was saying to the next row, and I would try to do that grade's work as well. I got a good education!
When I was six, I began to attend the K-8 Pleasanton Elementary School which was on the site of what is now the district offices for P.U.S.D. I always feel nostalgic whenever I have workshops or trainings there because I can look up and tell you exactly in which rooms and with which teachers I was educated. Mrs. Miller for second, Mrs. Ione Arnold for third, Mrs. Odell for fourth, Mrs. Wilsey for fifth, Mrs. Casella for sixth and several different rooms and teachers for seventh and eighth, with Miss Bost my seventh grade core and Mrs. Hinkle my eighth grade core. I still remember sliding down the grassy hill behind the school after school, and I still fondly remember the games of baseball that we played on what is now the preschool site. Mr. Tom Hart was my principal in junior high and I loved school! I got a good education!
After graduating from eighth grade, I began attending Amador High School and had a wonderful four years of school. Even though Pleasanton was over the hill, in the " boonies", rural and small, we had quality teachers and learned a lot. We were challenged by thinking individuals who had passions and strong feelings about their subject matter. Teachers such as Mr. Athenour, Mr. Anger, Mr. Estrada, Evelyn Williams, Mr. Jacobsen, Mr. Campana, Mr. Wood and Miss Borame made lasting impressions on us and this all helped to give us a good education! About 40 of my 1965 graduation class of approximately 180 students still get together every summer or fall to talk and to remember and to laugh, and we often remark about the sound education that we received here in Pleasanton. We've had reunions at 10, 16, 25 and 30 years, and since the 30th, we meet every year. The 44th reunion will be this September.
Someone said: "If you love what you do, you will never have to go to work another day of your life." That is how my career has been! And to think that I didn't even plan to be a teacher. I attended UC at Santa Barbara from 1965-69. I was interviewed and contracted to begin with Wells Fargo Bank in LA in 1969, near graduation, but I wanted a little more-I wanted something beyond a BA, so I decided to go to some sort of graduate school. I had no idea of the subject matter for grad school, though, so I took a lot of tests for vocations and interests, and after several days and hours of aptitude tests and interest inventories, all of the data pointed to teaching. The conclusion was teach something: forestry, military science, elementary ed, high school, preschool, mortuary science, etc. I couldn't ignore this and thought that I should heed the suggestion, so I enrolled in San Jose State University for a fifth year of teacher education and figured that I would tuck my credential under my arm and then do what I wanted. I called Wells Fargo and explained and they were supportive and forgiving and wished me well.
I attended SJSU from 1969-70 and in my student teaching, something happened. I fell in love with the kids. They were fun and bright and interesting. And, it felt right. It felt good! I guess those tests were accurate, because this was a job that I could do, seemed to be a natural at, and one that I could do well! I held out for Pleasanton while turning down two jobs offered to me from my student teaching ...one in Santa Clara and one in San Jose. I'm so glad that I did. I am grateful to have worked in the town that I grew up in, to have my roots here and my employment history, as well.
Tom Hart hired me at the district office, which is the Blue Agave today, and I began at Camp Parks near Komandorski Village. I began my teaching career with Gene Vargas as my principal. At Camp Parks, we held our late afternoon reading groups outdoors, if the weather was nice, and we could often see goats, grasshoppers and military helicopters. Gene Vargas called it the "country club school", and I loved teaching first grade there. I was befriended by Lola Fuller, the reading specialist, and she taught me how to teach reading well. My first class is pictured in the School Bells of Pleasanton book. In first grade, I taught colors, the alphabet, name writing, reading, math, science and social studies.
In 1971, the school moved to St. Augustine Church, as the site at Camp Parks was not earthquake safe. It was here that I taught some of the Oakland Raiders' kids.
Then the new Fairlands School was built. There were no windows and the kids desks all faced the 3 walls.....it was an open room with no back wall and it opened to the large pod in the middle. While at Fairlands, the dress code for women changed in 1978 and we were allowed to wear pants as long as they were part of a pants suit. At Fairlands, there was always noise because of the open design but there was a different noise in 1980. I, and my colleagues, endured an earthquake together. Liz Hatton was teaching music in my classroom when it happened. I endured a second earthquake in 1989 at Alisal. That time I was with our custodian, Tom Huerta, when it happened. After one year at Camp Parks and one year at St. Augustine's and eleven years at Fairlands, I transferred to Alisal and was to teach kindergarten with my mom, Pat Allison, but this did not work out and so I taught first grade for one year and then moved to kindergarten. I was at Alisal for four years. The district redrew boundaries and some of the students and the staff moved from Alisal to Donlon. I have been at Donlon since 1990, and I am sad to leave.
Thank you parents, students, colleagues, amd administrators for all of the rewards of teaching that you have given me. Thank you for the precious memories and cherished small moments of teaching in Pleasanton! I am the third generation of teachers in my family, since my grandma taught preschool for 35 years and my mom taught at Alisal for 20 years. My daughter is a fourth generation teacher at a high school in Long Beach. What a rewarding career it has been. It's been a wonderful life. I have loved getting to know families, teach siblings, and become friends with people beyond the classroom. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve the Pleasanton community!
Sincerely, Sherry Allison Williams