Veteran Gilroy teachers call it a career

From left, Gilroy High School office coordinator Lee Anne Gaxiola, retiring science teacher Jeff Manker, retiring Spanish teacher Susan Freiberg and GHS principal Marco Sanchez.

With more than 60 years’ combined experience in education, Gilroy schoolteachers Susan Freiberg and Jeff Manker will retire with a litany of accomplishments.

Here is some insight into their journeys:

Freiberg, who started teaching at Brownell Fundamental in 1979, taught seventh and eighth grade in a combination, self-contained classroom, “which is a code phrase for teaching everything and every subject to a bunch of kiddos. No easy task. But she survived and lived to tell about it,” according to a Gilroy Unified School District report.

Freiberg spent five years in this role before transferring to Gilroy High School in 1984, “where she took on the ominous task of being a traveling teacher, working out of a briefcase and teaching in five different classrooms when the teachers were on their prep.”

A department chair, Freiberg was most recently Gilroy High School’s Spanish dual immersion history teacher and “has taught just about every Spanish course there is under the sun.”

Among her memorable “Mustang moments” are being named grand marshall for the homecoming parade in the ’90s and being met with thunderous applause when introduced to the crowd in the stadium. (She would be nominated again in 2010.) Her 2015 GUSD teacher of the year nomination also stood out as a memorable moment.

Her retirement plans include traveling, gardening and volunteering at her granddaughter’s classroom at Rod Kelley.

Manker spent 29 years in the profession, with stints in Aromas-San Juan, San Jose and Oakland Unified school districts before coming to Gilroy High School 17 years ago. Manker has taught biology, advanced placement biology, AP environmental science and marine science. However, “one of his signature subjects and one of the ones he is most proud of is ornithology (the study of birds), which has become wildly popular with our students,” according to Gilroy staff.

Some of Manker’s favorite “Mustang moments” include kayaking with marine science students, birdwatching and hanging out with the science department staff. Manker is a published author and sits on several boards related to ornithology. His retirement plans include traveling to Australia—which would mean he’s traveled to all seven continents— publishing articles and staying involved in the bird community while learning to play the ukulele.

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