Celebrating 60 years of Skinner teachers

On Friday, December 14th, Skinner Middle School hosted staff and teachers from the past and present at the 60th Annual Staff Alumni Holiday Luncheon.  The event was coordinated by Skinner secretary, Joanna Alvarez and current staff contributed both money and an assortment of scrumptious dishes to the lovely buffet luncheon.

The event is something that is looked forward to by past Skinner staff and faculty all year as an opportunity to connect with colleagues and friends from years’ past.  The guests passed around yearbooks and many hugs and greetings were exchanged as over 75 alumni and family members chatted and reminisced while they enjoyed the delicious meal.

Skinner Scholars also had a table set up with old photos and documents for the Skinner staff alumni to enjoy and also help identify faces in photos which weren’t labeled.

Renae Levin taught English at Skinner from 1965 until 1971, at which time she transferred to North High.  About the Luncheon she said, “I have a chance to connect with people I taught with.  I think it’s a tribute to Skinner that they manage this through thick and thin.  The (current) faculty, administration and staff go all out for us and we aren’t asked to contribute anything.  It’s quite a significant tradition.”

Gary Goodnight taught Science and Technology classes at Skinner from 1976 until 1986.  He installed Skinner’s first computer lab, now that number has grown to four.  Said Mr. Goodnight, “I’ve missed very few luncheons.  I enjoy sitting down with all the old colleagues.  Skinner was probably the best teacher incubator that I have seen in all of DPS.  That camaraderie and warmth is still very much here.  I taught at six DPS schools and this was, by far, the best group of people I ever worked with.  Back when I came to this luncheon when I taught here, a teacher came who had taught my dad.  That is a link from all the way back until now.”

Berniece Huber began teaching Latin and English at Skinner in 1958.  By 1964 she was also a part time counselor.  She retired from Skinner in 1982.  “I used to host the luncheon when I worked here.  We had a lady, Ruth Wheeler, who taught Biology, who used to come every year, until she was almost 100!  The Home Ec teachers and students used to prepare the food for the luncheon.”  Ms. Huber went on to reminisce about the teachers’ experience, “the staff had separate lounges until the mid-70s.  The ‘Hen House’ and the ‘Men’s Roost’, where women weren’t welcomed.  However the pop machine was in the men’s lounge and it (the men’s lounge) was absolutely full of cigarette smoke.”

Jon Baier taught Tech. Arts (wood, metal, plastic and leather shop and computer tech) at Skinner for his entire 40 year teaching career, from 1963 until 2003.  “I enjoy coming to see all of the people I taught with.  I also like seeing Dehning (current Skinner 8th grade History teacher) and watching his hair recede every year.”  That comment was met with a burst of laughter from Mr. Dehning.

Philip Ricciardi taught Tech. Arts at Skinner from 1972 until 2000.  While he was a student at Skinner in the early 60s, Ms. Berniece Huber was his Latin teacher.  Says Mr. Ricciardi, “Quite honestly, we were a family here at Skinner more than any other Denver Public School.  We all kind of grew up together.  I was 21 when I started teaching here, most of us were single, and no one ever had any desire to leave.  To me, this age level is the most important.  At this age level, you can either make them feel good about themselves and succeed, or fail.  That’s a huge responsibility and opportunity for a teacher.”

Skinner Middle School is proud and honored to host the school’s incredible staff from the present as well as years past at this annual event and looks forward to hosting many more Staff Alumni Holiday Luncheons in the years to come

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