Four teachers retire

History teacher Johnny Wood with seniors Natalie Sanchez and Bryanna Bolanos

Zaineh Saleh

Crimson Chronicle Reporter

As the end of the year approaches, four teachers are retiring: Lee Tuomala, Johnny Wood, David Papa, and Miguel Martinez-Lafuente.

Tuomala has been a teacher at Hollywood High for 37 years. He has taught both chemistry and physics throughout his years. Tuomala’s long career is correlated with the enjoyment and passion for teaching.

 “I will miss the routine of coming here every day,” he said. Tuomala was also the instructor of the Academic Decathlon team for 31 years describing it as a positive engaging learning experience.  

“I look forward to spending time with my grandchildren in retirement,” said Tuomala.

Belen Cruz, captain of the Academic Decathlon team said, “Tuomala made my passion for science strong, and I am glad he is retiring; he needs to relax.”

Wood has been working at Hollywood High since 2008 being here for around 15 years and has made the decision to retire. Wood is an SAS history teacher and coached Students Run Los Angeles.

Wood attributed his retirement to  “ a lifestyle change. My wife is retired and she wants me to join her. We’ve got three grandkids… and a fourth on the way… So there’s things to do that don’t involve teaching anymore… and then COVID and the aftermath has changed teaching a lot and I find that I’m just ready to retire.”

Looking back, Wood said,” It’s been a wonderful experience. When I first got here they just started the small learning communities. So I was originally placed in something called the social justice academy. Then that got folded up into TCA and the last five years I’ve been in SAS so I’ve seen a lot of the school and how it works. I worked with a lot of people with a lot of different teachers, and wonderful students. So I’ve enjoyed it.”

This is Papa’s  29th year working as a teacher, most recently as a physical education teacher but also as a cooking teacher for 23 years. “The kids loved the class. And they liked me because I was feeding them,” he said. 

As a PE teacher, “People start to hate you because you’re making them run the mile you’re making them do the pacer. You make them do all kinds of stuff. So I went from being liked to being hated. It was kind of a weird transition.”

Despite that, the years “just went by fast. I wasn’t even really ready to retire.” Papa said his doctor told him the long commute to and from campus was hurting his health and that he needed to retire.

After retirement Papa said he plans to do lots of  bike riding, working out, probably a little bit of traveling. “I’m pretty excited about it. Yeah. Yeah, I’m gonna miss a lot of people, not so much the place, but the people.” 

Martinez, a Spanish teacher from San Clemente, Spain, is also retiring. He taught AP Spanish Language, Spanish for Spanish Speakers 1 and 2 and regular Spanish 2.

After 12 years of teaching at Hollywood High, he said he will miss “the students and the variety of different cultures here at school.” After retiring he said he plans on resting and doing something meaningful that’s different from teaching.

Ashley Estrada, Tiberius Marks, Tiyrah Miller, Anay Sandoval and Jessica Velasco contributed to this story.

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