Decades of Education – Langley’s Longtime Teachers

The experiences of Langley’s longtime teachers


Photo Credit: Philip Perry

Amongst the educators at Langley, there are many who have worked at the school for decades. These longtime teachers have witnessed an ever-changing school building, a technological revolution, and an increasingly diverse student body.

The many advances in technology affected how these veteran educators taught. 

“When I started teaching here in 1999, obviously cell phones were not a big thing. I feel like the distractions were far fewer back in my early days of teaching here. As the years went on and students started bringing their phones to class, there was more information at their fingertips,” English teacher Sandra Hamilton said. Hamilton has worked at Langley for 23 years.

The use of cell phones and the Internet became progressively more commonplace during Hamilton’s teaching career, a trend that she says teachers worked to adapt to.

“It sort of changed how we worked our lesson plans, so that you could use those resources in the classroom. We’ve been able to speed up the lesson process due to access to information,” Hamilton said.

Langley’s physical layout has also changed in the past few decades, having undergone several renovations to accommodate the needs of an expanding student body.

“When we went through renovation, I was in a trailer. I was the one to be teaching in a trailer the longest. In fact, I have a sign that says ‘Red October’ that I had on the side of the trailer. That is why I’m called ‘Caputan’ because the trailer looks like a submarine. Physically, things have changed tremendously. It is more modern, more comfortable,” Russian teacher Valentin Cukierman said. Cukierman has worked at Langley for 33 years.

One of the most unexpected events experienced by Langley’s longtime teachers was virtual learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Virtual learning, especially in [a] foreign language—learning a new alphabet—was a disaster. I don’t know a single possible thing about virtual learning. I felt extremely frustrated and unhappy. The memory is very negative, very unpleasant. I didn’t see their faces or their reactions. It’s part of the experience of learning foreign languages. I only heard voices, I was holding on to the voice,” Cukierman said.

Susan Shifflett, a volleyball coach and P.E. teacher who has taught at Langley for 36 years, had a similar experience.

“Virtual learning was horrible. Nobody turned their cameras on. We had workout lessons and people weren’t doing anything. It was a lost year for physical activity,” Shifflett said.

Despite the challenges and adversity caused by COVID and quarantine, Langley’s longtime educators continue to teach enthusiastically.

“My favorite part [of teaching Russian] is when I realize that they got the “Russian bug”—not COVID—it’s when they get inspired. When I realize that, I take credit for that. It’s when they show infinite human potential.” 

Shifflett’s favorite part of teaching P.E. and coaching volleyball is the kids.

“I had one student that graduated and then coached with me for 13 years. It’s the bonds you make, that’s the best part,” Shifflett said. 

Langley’s longtime teachers have provided education for hundreds of thousands of students over the past few decades, and they expect to keep doing so.