By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Four Teachers Retiring From Riverbank High Staff
0515 Group

Riverbank High School will be losing four teachers to retirement at the end of the 2012-13 school year. The Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) honored those retirees and others from throughout the district on Tuesday, May 7 at the school board meeting.

Board President Egidio ‘Jeep’ Oliveira called each retiree up to receive a plaque of appreciation and Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp shared some insights about their careers.

The four RHS teachers that will be retiring are Karen Adams, Brewster Burns, Nora Jansen, and Mary Phoenix. In interviews with The News, each retiree offered some thoughts on their years in the teaching profession and their plans for the future.


Karen Adams is retiring after 34 years of service to RUSD. Adams taught Algebra I and II, Geometry, Math A, World History, AP US History, and French 1 through 3.

Adams also coached softball for 12 years, and volleyball for three. She assisted the track team in a clerical manner. Adams was also the Math Department chair for a few years and served on the Advisory Task Force, the District Curriculum Committee, and the District Mission Committee. For 12 years she served as the high school’s Athletic Director.

“Once I retire (I’ve been told it’s not the “r” word, but rather the two “n” words ? “new and next”), I will be continuing with the work I have started with my church, increasing my music repertoire (I play the piano), putting together my new house (I just moved back to Modesto), playing golf, reading, visiting my family in Seattle and Santa Cruz,” Adams shared.


Brewster Burns has been teaching Special Day Class for 15 years. Ten of those years were spent at Riverbank High School and five were spent at Sierra High School in Manteca.

“The highlight continues to be when I meet students who have graduated and are happily married and gainfully employed,” Burns said of a benefit of teaching.

As far as his retirement plans, Burns said: “I intend to stay physically and mentally active by landscaping, bike riding, playing with grandchildren, golfing, reading, politicking and keeping the “honey do” list up-to-date.”


Nora Jansen has been teaching for 27 years and for the past 10 years, she has taught Biology. She has also taught AP Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Physical Science, Earth Science, Life Science, Art, and seven years were spent teaching Math in her career.

“Highlights have been my interactions with the dedicated and positive fellow staff always striving to do their best for the students, regardless of circumstances,” Jansen said of fond memories of her teaching career. “After retirement I plan on traveling to Costa Rica where I have a second residence, as well as other locations in the U.S. and abroad.”

Additionally, Jansen plans to spend plenty of time on “reading, sewing, gardening, hiking, exercising, cooking, and spending time with grandchildren, children, and other family members and friends.”


Mary Phoenix has been teaching for 23 years. She has taught Outdoor Education with a combination of technology and science. Within those years she has also taught Computer Skills, Biology, Earth Science and Physical Science.

“The highlight of my career was teaching at Cardozo Middle School where I ran the computer lab, taught science and tutored teachers in the use of technology in the classroom,” Phoenix said of having an impact there before moving on to Riverbank High School.

Though retiring, Phoenix doesn’t have any plans to slow down her pace. In fact, she may even pick it up a bit.

“I am leaving the classroom to pursue my business full time,” she explained. “I am a certified health coach. I help people who wish to have health in their life to achieve their goals. I also plan to tutor adults in technology and do a fair amount of traveling.”