As the last weeks of the spring semester approach, students prepare for final exams and summer plans, but for some professors, the end of this semester will mark the end to their teaching careers.
Jack Sterk, instructor of speech, will be one of these instructors retiring after this semester. Sterk has been teaching for 40 years, the last five of which were spent at Pierce.
“I still love the classroom,” Sterk said. “I am not retiring because I am burnt out; I am retiring because, economically, I am paying to stay full-time. I have reached a stage where, because I started so young, I am going to earn more in retirement on a full-time basis then I would staying.”
Sterk graduated from James Monroe High School in 1965 and has called the San Fernando Valley home almost all of his life, except where he spent a few years in Wisconsin before returning back to California.
Upon graduating from high school, Sterk attended Cal State Northridge back when it was called San Fernando Valley State College and majoring in Speech. He obtained his first job soon after at age 24, where he was the coach of the debate team at Valley College and held that position for 10 years.
“I have never once in my 40 years of teaching not gone into a classroom and given it my best,” Sterk said.
In addition to Sterk, another instructor that will be retiring is Kathleen Reiter-Vasquez, Child Development Center Director who has spent 36 years here at Pierce College.
“I am very thankful [Vasquez] gave me the opportunity to begin my career in child development,” said Maribel Beteta, a substitute teacher at the Child Development Center. “Every time I would see her, she was thinking about how she can help the Child Development Center, whether it was planning field trips or activities.”
Along with Vasquez, instructor Martie Leroy, lead teacher of Child Development Center will also call it a teaching career.
“Teacher Martie and I have worked together for 10 years,” said Peggy David, a fellow lead teacher of the Child Development Center.
“She is a mom to the mothers,” said David. “From Martie, I have learned that even though sometimes there are things you are not happy doing, like paper work and a lot of other things that get in the way, she helps me focus on the children because the children are the most important part of our job.”