Mike Whitaker Retires after 46 Years


Sarah Rockwood, Editor-in-Chief

After dedicating 46 years of his life to teaching at Miramonte, math teacher Mike Whitaker is retiring at the end of this year. There is no underestimating the immensity of a commitment enduring nearly half a century. As a beloved member of the teaching staff, Whitaker will be greatly missed by both students and staff.

Having taught at Miramonte for nearly his entire career, Whitaker has contributed to the school in innumerable ways. “When I was a graduate assistant teacher at San Francisco State University, I decided that teaching was the career for me. I started at Miramonte in 1967 teaching math and science, and even coaching the baseball team. I coached the varsity baseball team from 1972 to 1976,” Whitaker said. “But after I took a year off to teach at Diablo Valley College [DVC] as a replacement professor, I stopped coaching and focused on teaching math.”

The same year Whitaker came back from DVC, Miramonte started the Honors Math program. “By 1977 and 1978, I was more in tune to math. I volunteered to help in the Honors program, and was dedicated to teaching mathematics from there on out.”

In 2000, another opportunity for Whitaker to expand his teaching base emerged when the AP Statistics class was introduced. “When AP Statistics began, I offered to help jump start the program and have been primarily involved in it for the past decade. The program has expanded to as many as five classes in one year.”

Having taught nearly every math course offered, Whitaker is the most experienced teacher at Miramonte in many ways. As the first staff member to teach Calculus AB and BC, the two highest levels of math at Miramonte, Whitaker has a soft spot for the more difficult subjects. “It’s so hard to choose just one class that I enjoyed teaching the most,” Whitaker said. “But if I had to, I would say Calculus because I was the first person to bring it to the school.”

Throughout Whitaker’s career at Miramonte, many things have come, gone, and changed.  One of his favorite memories is of a science expedition trip, similar to that in Olympic Park, which is no longer held. “A group of talented science students and teachers would take a trip down to Yosemite for a week,” Whitaker said. “I loved interacting with the kids outside of school.”

After spending over 40 years in the halls of Miramonte, there are many things Whitaker will miss after retiring. “The main thing I will miss is interacting with the kids every day, which is the best part of being a teacher,” Whitaker said. “Teasing back and forth in class, supporting them at sports games and plays; the students have become a big part of my life.”

“The camaraderie of the teaching staff is another aspect I will miss dearly.  I have met some of my closest friends through teaching, such as Mr. Yriberri, who passed away from a heart attack a few years ago,” Whitaker said. “There are still many things around the school named after him.”

A recently passed law preventing retired teachers from returning to substitute at their school for six months has caused Whitaker to look for other opportunities after retirement. “While I regret not being able to be more involved at the school, I think the law is a good way to give the new and more inexperienced teachers a chance.”

At a recent staff meeting, a power point in celebration of Whitaker and his years spent teaching was presented. “If you think about it, he taught about 150 students a year for 46 years. That’s 6,900 lives that he’s touched,” Principal Adam Clark said. “Not only was he an excellent teacher, but he would always go to water polo games and plays to support his students outside of class. Anyone who can stay so committed for so long has a rare passion, and Miramonte is incredibly lucky that he spent his career here.”

As Whitaker takes this next step in his life, he is resolved to remain very involved in the school community. “My wife will still be teaching here, and I will continue to support students in any way I can,” Whitaker said. Due to his love for teaching and working with students, Whitaker is starting his own math tutoring business next August. “I love working with students one-on-one and this will give me the chance to stay connected and contribute to the school,” Whitaker said. “The location is yet to be determined, but anyone who is interested should stop by room 181 to learn more about it.”

As Whitaker moves on from Miramonte, he will leave behind an unprecedented and admirable legacy. “The only other teacher who may have taught longer than me is Otis McCain, but I think I beat him out by a few years,” Whitaker said. The students and staff of Miramonte will dearly miss Whitaker, but have been lucky to call him a beloved member of the school for nearly half a century.