Beloved Lakeside teacher retires after 23 years working with early advantage preschool program
“Volunteer” is what Aide Isabel Williams speculated her boss, Lakeside Union School District-LEAPP (Lakeside Early Advantage Preschool Program) teacher, Mary Witztum, would do when she retires. Witztum’s retirement luncheon was held in her own classroom on June 20 after 23 years with the District. Yet, Witztum’s enormous personal warmth will continue and nurture those she knows for a long time.
Other retirees head to the tennis courts, fishing pond, or pick up their pin interest hobby but those who know Witztum expect her to keep giving back to the kids like she always has.
Citing “How she makes you feel” from Witztum’s supervisor Preschool Manager Robyn Bowman, was one of the distinctive characteristics she used to describe this teacher’s physical presence and teaching skills.
“She’s a solid individual. Always comes in with a smile and has a great work ethic. This is supposed to be a seven hour job, it’s not to her,” said Bowman.
Witztum (previously known as Mary Elinger) worked in the early intervention program and her job not only dealt with special needs preschoolers in a classroom but with home visits. She had eight in her classroom and 27 on her caseload.
Witztum’s self-appointed cheerleader, Dex Lee Martinez, and an adoptive mother to 14, one of which was her son Isaiah Martinez, knows Witztum’s devotion to children firsthand. Martinez had four of her kids change under Mitztum’s tutelage. Isaiah Martinez not only flourished under Witztum’s techniques and now of age, will be attending college this fall.
“If this were my child” is Witztum’s beginning reference point on how she sees children either in nurturing them in a classroom setting or preparing an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for each one.
Witztum’s retirement plans include travelling with her husband, Joseph Witztum, a professor at UCSD and helping her 84-year old mother.
While her retirement party was on June 20, Witztum will be working a full day until June 22 and training her replacement Danielle “Dani” Kordyak.
Befitting a teacher who has always connected with her special needs kids and parents Witztum’s good-byes meant supplying her e-mail address and cell phone to parents.