Redmond High's Sandy Hargraves retires after 40 years in teaching
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
June 22, 2012 · 9:33 AM
Just after 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, students file into classroom C216 at Redmond High School (RHS).
It's the last period of the day but if the teens are eager to hear that final bell, they hide it well as they are all smiles and cracking jokes. From the students' cheerful dispositions and relaxed attitudes it would be difficult to guess that they'd just entered a math class — let alone a precalculus class only a few days before their final exam.
"It's a highlight of my day," junior Michael Pavlov admits about the class.
The 17-year-old said he has just as much fun in the math class as he does in his drama class and credits this to his teacher Sandy Hargraves.
"He is a singularly unique person," Pavlov said.
Hargraves has been at RHS for 30 of his 40 years in teaching and when the last day of school comes on Monday, he will say goodbye to his school, colleagues and students for longer than just the summer as he is retiring.
That last day is still to come, so the 61-year-old math teacher said he is excited and happy as can be about his upcoming retirement since he hasn't had to bid his final farewells yet. However, Hargraves knows he will miss helping his students and seeing those "lightbulb moments" when something clicks for them.
"I have loved working here," he said.
Hargraves started his teaching career in Colorado in the fall of 1972. He spent one year there before joining the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) staff at Kirkland Junior High School (KJHS) for a few years. He then spent two years teaching overseas in Australia before returning to KJHS. Hargraves started at RHS in the fall of 1982 and has taught all levels of math.
"I've taught everything except calculus," he said.
Hargraves, who attended Principia College in Illinois and received his master's degree from the University of Washington, has also taught multiple generations. He said he has even taught some of the RHS faculty when they were students at KJHS.
In addition to his role as a teacher, Hargraves has been a longstanding member of the RHS community as a parent: All three of his children, who range from 21-29 years old, graduated from RHS.
He said this community — made up of his colleagues and parents who are "so supportive" and involved in their children's education — is one of the reasons he has stayed at the school and probably one of the reasons he has taught multiple generations.
"My kids so enjoyed their teachers here," he said.
Hargraves said he wanted to be a teacher because growing up in the 1960s, he was part of a generation that wanted to change the world and make an impact. He grew up in the Snoqualmie Valley and while attending Mount Si High School, was inspired by a number of teachers and sports coaches who really pushed him and took the time to see him excel.
Hargraves does this with his students as well, which 16-year-old Heather Loschen can attest to. The sophomore, who is also in Hargraves' precalculus class, said Hargraves takes the time to get to know his students and their learning styles on an individual basis and provide help accordingly.
Loschen added that Hargraves uses humor in his classes as well to keep his students engaged.
"You just get used to him being totally insane and it being the best part of your day," she said. "It's a big loss for Redmond that he's leaving."
Pavlov agreed. He said Hargraves' jokes and teasing keep the students paying attention and engaged in the class.
"It's getting people involved in multiple cognitive levels (not just math)," Pavlov said.
Hargraves' humor is so well-known that students have even started a Facebook page called "The Wisdom of Mr. Hargraves," where people have posted memorable quotes and jokes he has uttered during class.
As adviser for RHS's S.P.A.M. Club Hargraves' humor reaches beyond the classroom. The club, which stands for Students Protesting Against Monotony, focuses on students pulling pranks and providing a fun break throughout the long school day every so often. Hargraves and the S.P.A.M. Club are also responsible for bringing teacher mud wrestling to RHS's annual homecoming festivities (above).
Hargraves said the humor he uses in class has been something he has developed during the course of his long career, but it was also something he learned when he was in school.
"My teachers that I liked were the ones who were funny and interesting and loved life," he said.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.