By Justin Liu, Anahitha Menon, Jonathan Wei and Lily Zarr, News Reporters, News Editor
photos by Gianna Burgess and Alyssa Chen
Math and computer science teacher Jeff Stulin is retiring after 23 years at South.
During his tenure, he headed the computer science curriculum, created three honors programming courses and revised the curriculum for the junior CP math course.
Stulin said he started off in the programming industry and owned a software company before switching careers to become a teacher.
“I decided I wanted to do something challenging and useful,” he said. “There’s all sorts of great crazy things happening in education, so I said, ‘Let’s have some fun with that.’”
Stulin said he was pleasantly surprised to find teaching so enjoyable.
“As a person who’s been in business, I did not expect to stay for as long as I did,” he said. “I stayed because I enjoyed working with teenagers, and that hasn’t changed one bit.”
Senior Elizabeth Weaver had Stulin for two years of computer science and plans to study data science in college. She said that he inspired her to pursue the field.
“He’s probably one of, if not my favorite teacher that I’ve had at South,” she said. “He made me appreciate how important computer science is in our world and how it connects to other topics that are really important.”
Stulin’s guidance extends beyond the classroom, Weaver said.
“He always was good at keeping things light and fun, but also recognizing when it was a good time to be serious,” she said. “He gave me a lot of good advice on how I should approach the next steps in my life.”
Stulin said he views mistakes as learning opportunities and has grown from his time at South.
“If I’m not making a mistake, I’m not trying hard enough in my job. I have zero regrets about being a teacher,” he said. “I screwed up a lot of things, I did a lot of things right and I learned from my screwups to become better at the job.”
Reading specialist Judy Clough is retiring from teaching after 11 years working in the special education department.
“I’m ready to look at different parts of my life and explore and live and develop other areas,” she said.
She said that though teaching is a challenging job, helping and interacting with students is rewarding.
“The students are great. They’re fun to work with, they’re intelligent, they’re funny,” she said. “Some of them are really interested in trying to improve their skills, [and] some of them are frustrated by it, but they typically are willing to come in and try to do their best.”
Guidance counselor Christopher Hardiman said that Clough’s devotion to her students is clear.
“You can always tell how dedicated, how knowledgeable and how passionate she is about helping students to read,” he said. “That inspires me to continue to support my students as a school counselor as well.”
Clough’s time at South has left a lasting impression on her students and colleagues, Hardiman said.
“As a reading specialist, she has been one of the very important components of getting some students to the level where they are comfortable, competent readers,” he said.
Though she is ready to begin the next stage of her life, Clough said that leaving South is bittersweet.
“There’s a sadness to it because I’m saying goodbye to a profession, to people and to a way of life,” she said. “I love my routine, my autonomy and my job, so it’s going to be hard to leave.”
Retiring guidance counselor Sue Batler worked in rehabilitation services for 15 years before spending 24 years at South.
Over the course of her career, Batler said that she has observed an increasingly stressful culture.
“I’ve seen it change a lot over the years,” she said. “It’s getting harder and harder to get into college, and people are pushing themselves more.”
Guidance counselor Christina Brown, who shares Batler’s caseload, said that Batler’s extensive knowledge of her job aids her in helping students get what is right for them.
“She always makes sure that every student gets exactly what they need,” she said. “She really understands the role of a counselor and that you have to meet kids where they’re at and help them with whatever trajectory they want to take.”
Brown said that Batler has always gone above and beyond for her students.
“She’s helped make South be like a home to so many people, and she’s made it a home for me. I’m eternally grateful for that,” she said.
Even when Batler is not physically present, Brown said that her influence in the school endures.
“On the days when she’s not here, I miss her and I think, ‘What would Sue do?’” she said. “That feels really good because I know that so much of Ms. Batler will continue on through all of her colleagues and students that she’s worked with.”
Batler said she wants to be remembered for helping to shape her students and their futures.
“I really cared about the students and I made a difference,” she said. “Overall, when I look back at the 24 years, it’s been good.”
History teacher Bob Parlin’s 35 years at South make him the current longest-serving teacher.
Throughout his career, he has been involved in numerous initiatives, including creating the first gay-straight alliance in a U.S. public high school, developing linked classes, helping to run the New to South program and co-founding the South Human Rights Council.
Parlin said that one of his favorite things about being a teacher is fostering student learning and growth.
“I love when I leave a class and students have been excited about what we’re talking about. They learn something, and they feel appreciative about what they learned,” he said. “That’s the highlight for me, and that’s why I became a teacher. I love being a part of that whole learning process.”
History teacher Michael Kozuch first met Parlin in 1993 when they worked together on the Massachusetts Department of Education’s Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students. After hearing about Parlin’s passion for teaching, Kozuch said he was motivated to become a teacher as well.
“He has inspired so many people,” he said. “We should look back on this career as one that has made a huge difference in people’s lives. We need to celebrate that kind of impact, and I hope this community understands how much he’s given to our school district.”
Parlin’s departure will leave a void that will be hard to fill, Kozuch said.
“I’m very happy for him, but there will be a hole in the school and there’s not one person who will be able to fill that hole,” he said. “It’s going to take a few of us to step up and provide the kind of leadership that he has provided.”
Parlin said he is grateful for his time at South. After retiring, he plans to travel.
“South has been an extraordinary place for me to dedicate my career [to],” he said. “Over the years, I’ve taught thousands of students, and they’ve been engaged and thoughtful. Each class has been something unique, and I’ll cherish those memories.”