Whitney returns from retirement

After 17 months of retirement, Robert Whitney subs for Shannon Kreamer’s APES classes for a quarter

Caitlynn Hauw, Editor-in-Chief

Robert Whitney reviews student Torrie Parker’s (11) test notes in Shannon Kreamer’s AP Environmental Science class. Since Kreamer is off on maternity leave, Whitney has been subbing for her class. Caitlynn Hauw

Fresh out of retirement, former AP Environmental Science (APES) and physics teacher Robert Whitney leaves his house at 6:45 a.m. three times a week on a 17.5-mile trek from Escondido to Westview. He no longer lives in Rancho Peñasquitos as he did before he retired, so his commute on bike can take up to 70 minutes. 17 months ago, the bike ride from his home in Park Village to Westview was 18 minutes long.

His commute time hasn’t been the only thing that’s changed since he retired. 

With more free time and a less structured schedule, after retirement, he moved to an acre of land, where he is building a greywater system that can water the dozen fruit trees and a pollinator and native-plant garden he hopes to grow with water from his washing machine or dishwasher.

 Despite enjoying retirement, he couldn’t stay away from Westview for long. In July, Whitney received a call from APES teacher Shannon Kreamer. 

“Let me guess, you’re pregnant and you want me to [sub for you],”  Whitney said before Kreamer could even say a word. 

He was correct. After some thought, he agreed to teach Kreamer’s second quarter of APES.

“I thought that it was just going to make her life easier,” Whitney said. “She won’t have to worry. She’ll know that I can step in and not be asking her questions every day. I helped recruit her to basically take my place here with APES. I thought if I were going to sub for anybody for a long period of time, it would be her.”

Before Kreamer went on maternity leave, Whitney introduced himself to parents at Back to School Night and helped APES classes with a lab so students could get to know him. 

On Oct. 10, while Whitney was eating dinner, Kreamer called him to say that she was going into labor—two weeks before her expected due date. Whitney came to school the next day to sub for her class.

When he came back, he realized Westview has changed: the schedule is different, a new counselor was added, and the administration is 50% unfamiliar to Whitney.

But there are many things that have stayed the same. 

“Seeing some of the staff here that I haven’t seen in a year or so [and being reminded] of what good hands the students are in, and how fortunate the teachers are to have the student body here, it’s just excellent,” Whitney said. 

Ryland Arciaga (12) had Whitney as a physics teacher on Zoom and partially in-person during his sophomore year—the year Whitney retired—and now as an APES teacher.

“It was actually a pretty smooth transition [from having Kreamer as a teacher to Whitney],” Arciaga said. “I think just because Mr. Whitney has been here before, he kind of knows the drill. He’s so great at APES and so is Mrs. Kreamer, so it was just an easy transition because they both teach very similarly, so it didn’t really feel like there was much of a difference. We were sad to see Mrs. Kreamer leave but happy to see Mr. Whitney come.”

Although this consistency in teaching styles between Whitney and Kreamer has helped students, Whitney said it takes a conscious effort to maintain.

“I want to respect Mrs. Kreamer’s pedagogy and how she envisioned the class to run,” Whitney said. “So I have to kind of govern myself. I have to pull myself back if I feel myself thinking, ‘Oh, I think it’d be better to do it this way,’ or ‘it would be interesting if I change this’ and I want to respect the way she wanted it to go.”

As closely as Whitney tries to follow how Kreamer teaches, inevitably, his own personality shines through in the classroom. With anecdotes of his daughter working on a farm or tales of his daughter swimming underwater with her pet duck—and overall interactiveness with students—many students like Arciaga welcomed Whitney’s return.

“It’s been just a lot of fun getting back in the groove of managing a class, and it’s been pretty easy,” Whitney said. “Some days I feel like I’ve never been gone.”