Six high school staff members say goodbye to VHS
By Catherine Brown, Photo & Business Editor
This coming June, we will watch six of Vashon High School’s staff members leave alongside the class of 2021; Andrew Callender, Paul Colwell, Stephen Floyd, Christine Fostering, Paul Peretti, and Karah Weber have all decided this year will be their last at the high school.
Callender has been working at the high school since 2016 as a math teacher. Other than his math classes, he is known for his guitar-building class and winning the canned food drive four years in a row.
“I’ve taught high school math for 13 years and am ready to take a step in a slightly new direction,” Callender said.
Callender started working on Vashon after living in Los Angeles. He kept in touch with Lisa Miller, another VHS math teacher, who he met when they worked together in 2008 at Hazen High School.
PROPOSE. Andrew Callender poses next to his fiancee Maureen, who got engaged on Christmas. Callender plans on moving to Olympia to be with his fiancee.
“I’d like to have more time and energy to pursue. I’m not sure if I’ll teach next year or not, but I am interested in becoming more involved with CTE, and continue my work with guitar-building and other creative projects,” he said.
Callendar plans on pursuing a different career and getting married to his fiancee this coming September.
Colwell has been working at the high school for the past 19 years. Before working on Vashon, Colwell was a part of a music trio with his brothers, who traveled to over 50 countries performing together. In the 1960s, the trio were co-founders of a musical education group called Up With People. Continuing to work with young people, he began his career at the high school as a paraeducator.
“I am [planning to retire] with some hesitation. It’s time― I’ll be 86 this next summer and I probably should have retired earlier,” Colwell said. “I’m doing a lot of musical projects with this international organization so I will continue my association.”
RETIRE. Paul Colwell smiles for a headshot. Colwell plans on retiring from high school after 19 years.
Although Colwell is unsure of his plans after leaving, he wants to travel with his wife and continue to work in the music industry.
“I want to thank all the incredible people, staff, and students who have been part of my 19 years at Vashon High School. My experience here has been a very special highlight of my life and career, which has taken me around the world many times. It’s lucky me and my wife, Catalina, ended up here on Vashon,” Colwell said.
Floyd began working at the high school in the spring of 1999. He began as a paraeducator with special education students, and later became certified to teach in the school’s English and theater departments. In June, he plans on retiring and focusing on his family.
“A major reason is that I want to be more available to my family, who live in West Virginia; my mother is getting close to 90, and there are a whole bunch of brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and cousins I miss. And spend more time with my husband,” Floyd said.
Like many, Floyd wants to cherish his time with friends and family.
“None of us know how long we will have with the ones we love, so I feel like it’s time to turn my attention away from work―very meaningful and fulfilling work, even―to the people I love. Plus, intuitively, something inside is telling me it’s time to move on now,” he said. “I’m excited for the journey ahead.”
Fostering began working at the high school along with her husband eight years ago. She has been accepted into the Danforth program at the University of Washington for Principal Preparation, and will move on from the high school at the end of the year.
“I am transitioning into a job to become a principal. I really value leadership, and when I was in elementary school, I got to be principal for a day,” Fostering said. “Ever since then I thought ‘what a cool job, you get to interact with everybody from the community and put on events [and] be a really purposeful part of the community.’”
One of the many aspects Fostering plans to bring into her career as a principal is looking at the student as a whole.
“I believe we really focus on the whole student and not just making sure the student is fast at math. And that’s something that’s always been close to my heart,” Fostering said. “I’m thinking of moving into elementary school and being an elementary school principal. I think I can interrupt that ‘I’m bad at math’ idea early on for younger kids.”
Before working at Vashon, Paul Perretti worked at Juanita High School in Kirkland for 17 years. He then began his job as a counselor at the high school six years ago.
“My wife and I want to travel, and [we] I have many projects at home I need to complete. I’m also looking forward to the time to read books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for many years,” Peretti said. “The best part of the job is being with young people. Simply put, it’s an honor, and they are a delight to be with. This is the part of my job I’ll miss the most.”
EXPLORE. Paul Peretti Peretti smiles for a photo. Peretti plans to retire, and travel with his wife.
One of Vashon’s newest teachers, Weber started teaching two years ago while living in West Seattle, and has also planned on leaving at the end of the school year.
I really liked the idea of working on the island― it’s beautiful over there,” Weber said. “I moved, so I don’t live in West Seattle anymore. I
live in Capitol Hill now, and it’s just going to be way too hard to [commute].”
Although Weber came to the high school as a first-year teacher, she plans to continue teaching, and will take her experiences with her.
“Learning the material is important, but making relationships and just being able to have students trust you and feel comfortable is invaluable. If you don’t have a good relationship with your class, then they won’t want to learn.” Weber said.