Simeon Greenstein retired at the end of the first semester of the 2013-14 school year after 35 years of service in the SDUHSD, and will undergo surgery to replace a hip that has been bothering him for quite awhile. He has been replaced by temporary teacher J.J. Hair until June 2014.
According to Principal David Jaffe, “the pain just got too great” for Greenstein to continue teaching.
“Every step I took really hurt,” Greenstein said. “But, now what really hurts is the fact that the students that I really care about, [that] were the central focus of my life, [are] not a part of my life. I don’t see them anymore. That’s what makes it hard.”
Greenstein said he decided to retire at the semester because returning to school right before the AP test, after a 10-week break, was “not the right thing to do for the school, or for the students.”
Greenstein kept news of his retirement under wraps in order to avoid undue attention from students and teachers.
“After working in the school district for 35 years, that wasn’t how I wanted my last memory to be, with [people] talking about my retirement,” Greenstein said.
AP US History student Alayna Tomlinson (11) will remember Greenstein as an “innovative type of teacher” who “really [took] the time to have a personal relationship with all his students.”
“The way his class is set up is a lot different from a regular class setting,” Tomlinson said.
“He uses methods like giving kids the opportunity to listen to lectures and create situations where it was interactive.”
According to counselor Jennifer Magruder, Greenstein’s class was popular with seniors, and they “were signing up for the man in addition to the course.”
Tomlinson said Greenstein was known for his “sly” humor and compassionate teaching. As a result, Magruder said a number of students looked into schedule changes since they were “sad and [unwilling] to move forward with the new teacher because they were connected with Greenstein.”
Greenstein started his career at TPHS as a campus supervisor but became a teacher when the campus was just three years old. During his tenure he served as Assisstant Principal at both Oak Crest Middle School and Diegueno Middle School before returning to TPHS to assume principal duties. When the district opened La Costa Canyon High School in September 1996, Greenstein was at the helm. After his years as an administrator, Greenstein decided to return to the classroom and his students, so back to TPHS he came.
“Simeon was always about the kids first,” Jim Harrah, Greenstein’s long-time Social Studies department colleague said. “He understood what was important about teaching.
Mia Boardman Smith called Greenstein “the mayor of TPHS.”
Many students were not aware of Greenstein’s retirement, and were shocked to see a replacement teacher on the first day of the second semester. Greenstein left letter for replacement teacher J.J. Hair to read to his students.
Hair was notified of Greenstein’s retirement “a couple weeks before the semester,” and said that Greenstein wanted to “just give the kids a brand new start” instead of hiring a long-term substitute and returning in May.
According to Magruder, Hair will make virtually no changes in the coursework previously taught by Greenstein.
“It’s similar to a situation if someone went out on maternity leave or had to take a medical leave,” Magruder said. “Students will have to adjust to a new teaching style and some new expectations, but it should still be the same curriculum and material.”
“I’m teaching the class where the AP people tell me I’m supposed to be,” Hair said.
After this year, Hair said he wants to return to TPHS as a full-time teacher, while Greenstein looks forward to spending more time with his wife, motorcycle and four cats after a successful hip replacement surgery and throughout his retirement years.