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Teachers retire, administrators shift


Superintendent Don Austin announced several administrative changes at Paly and at the district level in an email sent to parents on May 7. Austin formally introduced these changes at the board of education meeting May 11.

At Paly, three teachers are retiring and two new administrators are coming on board.

LaDonna Butler, a former assistant principal from San Jose School District, will replace Tom Keating as assistant principal, while Keating will become principal of Palo Alto Adult School.

Erik Olah, the instructional leader of the Science Department and Western Association of Schools and Colleges Coordinator, will replace Margaret Reynolds as assistant principal.

Math teachers Radu Toma and Arne Lim are retiring, as is photography teacher Margo Wixsom.

“I have been working towards earning my administration credentials this past year, taking weekly classes over Zoom with other educators from all over the Bay Area,” Olah said. “There was an assistant principal opening at Paly, so I applied.”

Olah said he has been interested in an administrative position for some time and is excited to assume his new position in the coming school year.

Newcomer Butler has served in administrative roles for six years, and taught for 13

“I applied for the opportunity to work within an educational community that values developing the whole child: teaching to the head and teaching to the heart, ” Butler said.

Toma, who has taught at Paly for 27 years, said he is looking forward to retirement and relaxing.

But he said he will miss his students and the inclusive Paly environment.

“It’s just time for me to turn the hat in,” Toma said. “I was going to retire sometime soon anyways, but we got a bonus offer from the district for those who would retire.”

Although Toma said he looks forward to his retirement and a period of relaxation, he said he will miss his students.

“I get to deal with some phenomenal kids over the years. Not just extremely bright but also enthusiastic about math and just a joy to teach,” Toma said. “I love my job, and it’s gonna be hard to give it up.”

One of Toma’s former students, senior Matthew Ho, has taken Toma’s AP Calculus BC class and is in his Advisory. Toma is also the adviser for the Paly Math Club, which Ho is a member of.

“I’ll really miss his enthusiasm for teaching math and for being really supportive for everything,” Ho said. “His BC class was my favorite class; he created an environment where people could make friends easily, and I met a lot of cool people through his class.”

With the 2021-22 school year tentatively returning to in-person learning, changes at Paly are inevitable.

However, Olah said he looks forward to assuming his new position on campus.

He said, “As an administrator, you have a more direct impact on the bigger systems at the school, and I want to work to improve what we do as a school to help all students become successful.”

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