Biology teacher Sharon Stutz to retire


Photo courtesy of Christine Richardson

Sharon Stutz poses with her horse Theo.

After 26 years of teaching biology at Oak Park High School, Sharon Stutz is retiring to spend more time with the people she loves.

“I’ll visit my daughter when I can, and I have really good girlfriends that live in Boise Idaho and another in Santa Cruz that I want to visit. My sister is on kidney dialysis and I want to see her more often ( she lives in Palmdale). I’ll have time to work in my garden, relax and read by my pool, and my house should be cleaner but time will tell on that one. My dogs will finally get to go for daily walks as will my horse Theo,” Stutz said.

Stutz taught CP Biology and a freshman class called Global Science that is no longer offered. She was also a cheerleading coach her first year at OPHS, ran the IEL Equestrian team for 6 years, and ran a group involved with HOSA where she had several students placing in the top ten and even going to international competitions.

Distance learning and overall timing have also played a big role in the decision.

“I had long planned to retire when I turned 62 but after this last school year I decided to retire a year early.  Teaching remotely this past year and half has been mentally exhausting … I don’t know if someone who is not a teacher could completely understand. I became demoralized and questioned whether I was still making a difference,” Stutz said.

 Although distance learning has been tough for Stutz, it has not prevented her from making a difference.

“After the first couple of months, I feel like she made me excited to go to class because of her positive attitude and the way that she has made things so much better with how she behaved … Some teachers really put the effort in ensuring that the students understand what they are teaching and she is one of them … It made me think: ‘oh science isn’t that bad, just got to get the right teacher,’” sophomore Etti Ovadia said. 

Even during distance learning Stutz was always making someone smile.

“I like how she’s always laughing. That definitely brings the mood up especially when no one has a camera on someone’s happiness, at least someone’s like, joyful,” Ovadia said. 

Looking back at her time at OPHS, Stutz has had no regrets and has made some unforgettable memories.

“I look back with fondness the 4 years my daughter was on campus as those memories have a deeper meaning to me.  When she was a freshman I was part of a faculty flash mob dance at a pep rally. It totally embarrassed her. It was hysterical,” Stutz said.

According to  Stutz, the connections she has made at OPHS will be what she will miss the most.

“The people, absolutely the people.  We have the best faculty and support staff anywhere and I have become dear friends with so many.  That said, I know I will continue seeing my friends, I just won’t be seeing them every day. I’ll also miss seeing the look of pride from students when they’ve worked hard to meet their goals and achieve success,” Stutz said.  “I’ve been my students’ biggest cheerleader for 26 years; it is going to feel odd that first day when school reopens in August and I’m not there.”

Her colleagues will miss her, not only for her work, but her friendship as well.

“I’ll miss her dedication to the school and her students as well as her sense of humor and common sense approach to making things work, especially during COVID-19,” OPHS Principal Kevin Buchanan said.

Those small moments with Stutz will not be forgotten.

“I will miss Sharon stopping by my room telling me ‘Good Morning,’ I will miss us showing up to work accidentally wearing matching outfits, I will miss her wisdom and ideas on strategies for student engagement, I will miss working collaboratively with her to develop and adapt curriculum and I will miss her thoughtfulness, encouragement and friendship,” science department chair Winnie Sloan said.

Going forward Stutz has many plans for after her retirement including traveling with her husband. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing my daughter more often and when it’s completely safe, traveling with my husband. There’s a Danube River cruise that looks wonderful and I want to experience Scotland.  I also just recently retired my daughter’s former show horse, so in addition to walking my dogs everyday I’ll have Theo to take care of.  I’m boarding him within a 10 minute walk of my home.  Having my own horse has been a dream of mine for over 50 years,” Stutz said.