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Even in retirement, teachers bring warmth to their former Oakland school

Carrie Johnston, a teacher at Oakland’s Bella Vista Elementary School, wrote this reflection about a group of retired teachers. 

Retired Bella Vista teachers
Photo courtesy of Carrie Johnston. Left to right: Karen Chin, Louise Broome, and Carolyn Matson

Bella Vista School teachers gathered on this last morning before spring break for a treat — breakfast prepared by three retired teachers. The delicious repast included home fries, grits, donuts, and cheesy scrambled eggs. Tired staff, looking forward to the coming break almost as much as their students, took time to gather, enjoy the food, and spend some time together before the last day.

Carolyn Matson, Louise Broome, and Karen Chin have always been generous when it comes to sharing their cooking gifts with the staff at Bella Vista; ask any member of the staff from the past four decades and she will remember a potluck (or several) featuring one of Mrs. Broome’s tasty cooked treats, and for the past several years the social committee has been helmed by the dedicated, enthusiastic Mrs. Matson and Ms. Chin.

I began my teaching career at Bella Vista. After leaving the school and the district for several years I counted myself lucky to return here, because the staff have a wonderful way of caring for each other. Many of the teachers and support staff have worked together for decades, and the trust and comfort they take in each other is heartwarming. Although no teams of researchers have been in to confirm my beliefs, I am pretty sure the consistent staff and the fellowship among the adults at Bella Vista have contributed to the steady improvement in student achievement. It is a place where adults have felt at home, and these comfortable adults provide a feeling of home to the students at Bella Vista as well.

Back to our retired teaching team. Not only do Ms. Chin, Mrs. Broome, and Mrs. Matson provide us with reliable support as dedicated, on-call substitutes, they have returned many times this year to nourish us — and to provide the cozy venue for staff congregation around a good meal. Typically, when I mentioned to Ms. Chin that I wanted to share the story of our happy team of retired teacher-cooks with the Education Report audience, she hastened to say that the current social committee had also contributed juice, fruit, and coffee to the occasion.

Happy vacation, everyone, and thank you to the caring staff, present and past, of Bella Vista School and so many other wonderful schools in Oakland.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    They just keep on giving….how lovely.

  • makeitgoaway

    That’s a very cool gesture by some lovely ladies, but can anyone say heart disease?

  • Jim Mordecai

    Before Bella Visita Franklin was Karen Chin’s home school and she brought her warmth for the many years she taught at Franklin before moving to Bella Visita.

    Glad her special spirit is recognized and glad to learn beyond retirement Karen, with the other retired Bella Visit teachers, are still contributing to supporting teachers.

    Jim Mordecai
    Former Franklin teacher