Turning the Page

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By Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Anais Wenn
It was a day that changed history... the launch of Sputnik.  A teenage girl sitting in Ms. Fesler’s middle school social science class wondered about her career and contributions to society. What she didn’t realize at that time was how much influence Ms. Fesler would have on her career.  
Teaching was not the career Judi Healey started right out of college.  She was a great writer and her passion for writing and broadcasting landed her several jobs.  Judi shared her ideas and thoughts with her Akron Beacon Journal readers, did voice-overs in Sacramento, and wrote her wine column for the specialty food association.  But she knew something much more rewarding and fulfilling was on the horizon. 
When Judi moved  to Southern California with her husband and young daughter, Kathryn, her Akron friends transplanted to La Canada Flintridge told her about a school they could see from their backyard called Paradise Canyon. Judi teared up thinking about Kathryn attending that school! The next fall, Kathryn was a PCY first grader and Judi was teaching sixth grade there using all she had learned from Ms. Fesler’s class.  “I mimicked everything I could remember about her,” Judi recalled.
Each year, for the next twenty-eight years, Judi felt more and more confident that she was meant to be a teacher.  She not only taught at the elementary level but also at LCHS where she coordinated the 8-12 drama program.  Later she served as a teacher specialist, and after that she coordinated LCUSD's professional development and GATE programs while teaching at PCR at the same time. 
It was quite predictable that her one and only daughter followed in her mother’s footsteps.  ”Kathryn sat in my ninth grade English class one day as I was teaching Fahrenheit 451 and still remembers it vibrantly”, Judi said. “She would walk from PCY to LCHS, sit in on after school rehearsals, and memorize all the lyrics.”  Kathryn is currently teaching at EARTHS, a magnet school that is part of Conejo Valley School District and is the district presenter for the new science program.  Mother and daughter graduated together when they both got their masters’ degrees in administration.
When I asked her what advice she has for new teachers entering the field Judi replied, “It's about the vibe.  Know your subject; know the curriculum; tend to business on all of this.”  She referenced a song, "Kids under construction; careful the paint is still wet" and added, “No matter what grade you are teaching or what subject, our students are kids on the journey of growing up, and their parents sent them off to school with all the best hopes and love.”
So after 29 years of outstanding service and a very fulfilling career, Judi has decided to retire.  “I want to retire while I still love teaching, while I still have mountains to climb and books to write. I want to leave before the energy of the party crests. No moment is perfect, but this moment is as close as it gets.”  
LCUSD will miss Judi but we know she will enjoy every minute of her retirement. She shared that she will continue to write for La Canada Neighbors, take a writing class or two for discipline, expand her own writing group, and do more rock climbing. Her near future also includes international travel in Australia/New Zealand in November. Judi also hopes to more efficiently use her new sport watch!
Play hard Judi! You have earned it!