You taught me a lesson

BVH student body thanks retiring teachers


Benjamin Ayala

Automotive Teacher Ben Hazel’s class is working on an assignment while Hazel is away. Hazel teaches the auto shop class and will be retiring in June.


Five and a half months after the departure of ten staff members at the end of the first semester, Bonita Vista High School will see two more teachers, who have currently made their plans to retire public, retire at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, namely Automotive Technology teacher Ben Hazel and Physical Education teacher Monica Riggs.

“I’m actually really sad that’s she’s retiring, and I’ve told my friends this, but she’s actually one of the best P.E. teachers I’ve had. We have a lot of fun in her class because she provides so many activities that keep us busy and active,” freshman Marielena Boyd said. “Honestly [Riggs] has made a pretty significant impact on my life in the short time I’ve known her.”

Riggs confirmed her retirement but had no further comments.

“Not all teachers that retire [are] necessarily replaced because from year to year, students request slightly different classes and our enrollment fluctuates. The important thing is to determine whether we are going to need another teacher to replace the retired teacher,” Principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed. D said. “In terms of this year,  it doesn’t look like we’ll have programmatic changes. We have auto shop teacher retiring but I’m looking to replace Mr. Hazel with another automotive teacher.”

Hazel decided to retire in June as a result of the offer offered by the SUHSD: 60 percent of his annual salary paid over five years, and also due to two shoulder and two knee operations. He initially planned to retire ten years from now, and decided not to take the offer earlier this school year.

“It’s the best school that I’ve taught at and so I intended to stay here a long time ago. I found that I get a lot of pleasure out of working with young folks and it makes me very proud when I hear from a student from a couple years ago that just got a raise at work or a new toolbox or something like that. I get a kick out of all my kids, I love them to death and I’m just going to miss them all terribly,” Hazel said.

Hazel enjoyed his years teaching at BVH and credits the longevity of his career to the positive relationships he had with his students. Along with technical skills in auto repair, Hazel has instilled other values in his students such as problem solving, social skills, and his classic line found in his classroom: “Don’t be a jerk.”

“It’s the nature of the job we do that people are going to retire every year, but every time someone retires we lose a little bit of the collective history of that person and the influence they have and someone else comes in forging their own contributions to the school. At the end of the day the school is brick and mortar and walls and doors, but what really makes it Bonita [Vista High] is the people,” Del Rosario said.

After healing from his injuries, Hazel hopes to continue competing in local races like he used to in the early 2000’s. He recalls reaching great heights, as he collected a reported dozens of trophies as well as competed against NASCAR teams. Also, Hazel has recently been asked to build a car for a team that wants to compete at Barona, a town in San Diego County.

“I don’t feel like I worked one single day in my 25 years. I feel like it was all a hobby. I’ve shed a few tears getting ready to retire and I’m sure I’ll shed a few more, but I’m ready for more adventures,” Hazel said.