About six or seven years ago when I was running the teen programs at the Cambria Community Center, my Teen Action Council was charged with organizing “Teendorado,” a youth-oriented and operated sideshow to the Lions’ Pinedorado. One of the most popular booths was the dunk tank. Who would we get to be a target?
“A teacher,” they all suggested. One whom they all agreed was tough, serious about class, but someone they liked and absolutely knew he liked them was Coast Union High School math teacher George DiMundo. Being the good sport he is, he agreed to the job. We just reminisced about that day at George’s retirement recognition at our school board meeting May 20.
Our district has gone through and is still going through many changes. We’ve hired new administrators, new teachers. On the other hand, we have some class-act teachers with years of experience leading our children to their futures. DiMundo left a successful engineering career 26 years ago to start teaching. His “Last Lecture,” which he let Principal Karl Dearie read an excerpt from, summarized a path well-chosen and his philosophy on teaching, parenting and living.
“I come to the end of this, my second career, satisfied that I have always tried to do my best to teach the material which I have been charged with presenting and that I have maintained the passion with which I began 26 years ago. … In what other career are you permitted to begin anew each year, fixing things that didn’t work well and improving things which did work well?” His passion and pursuit of better ways to teach were apparent by his continued education and studying for higher levels of certification and with his relationships with our kids.
Whether around the Boy Scout campfire, riding in a van full of teens to an event or just casually at the Teen Center, when George DiMundo came up in conversation it was always with respect. Sometimes they complained about how difficult the class was or how strict he was, but they unfailingly liked him and respected them and that was because they all knew without doubt that he had their best interest at heart.
Which is interesting, because further into his “Last Lecture” he writes: “Parents and teachers, remember your roles — you are parents and teachers of the young people, not their friends. I do not mean you should be unfriendly, but students need to know that there are times when they are not in charge. Students need to know acceptable behaviors may vary with the environment…
“I believe that all of nearly every period should be used for learning. To be sure, some students will complain. But, if students regularly finish early, then not enough work has been assigned or more material should have been presented.”
I often wonder about what my child is doing in class. At least here, he would be gaining what he’s supposed to be gaining in a school setting. I hope other teachers are adhering to these philosophies.
Thankfully, DiMundo will be around in an advisory capacity for the next two years, mentoring, monitoring curriculum and still being a positive influence on our kids and staff. Thank you, George, for a career change well-spent.