The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Decorated math teachers decide to retire

Late-breaking news came out of the math department this past Thursday.  Joining the group of retiring teachers are two of the most experienced, long-time instructors, BC and AB Calculus teacher Patricia Gabriel and BC Calculus and computer science teacher Sharon Baker Webb. Both announced their intent and then headed out to judge the results of this year’s AP exams.

Webb has been teaching since 1979, and she’s had the opportunity to work at three different high schools and teach in Scotland on a Fulbright Scholarship. In 1986, after her time in Scotland came to a close, she started teaching math and computer science courses at Jefferson – and she’s been here ever since.

Webb helped initiate and establish the first ever Science Bowl here. She remembers getting a call that a science bowl program was getting started, and she rushed to create the team and get ready for their first competitions.

“We slapped together a team in a few weeks,” she said. The Science Bowl team has gone on to win four national championships, memories that Webb will always look back on with pride.

During her tenure here, Webb was named a Teacher Astronaut in the NASA program.

Now, she’s looking forward to a new job with the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program at the Department of Energy Distribution. The program provides former teachers an opportunity to work with the government in launching education programs and to make sure they are successful after they’ve been established.

Gabriel is also getting ready to leave Jefferson after 27 years of teaching here. Gabriel, like Webb, is not retiring for good, but rather, moving on to another job. She is currently in the process of being interviewed for several jobs, but she hopes to work in teacher training, passing on her years of expertise to new teachers. Gabriel was nominated by Jefferson administrators and faculty as a candidate for FCPS Teacher of the Year.

In addition to teaching a variety of math courses, Gabriel has been working with the math team for several years now, and she views it as a part of her experience at Jefferson that she will miss most. Though the math team has had more than their share of successes at national competitions, the event that sticks out the most to Gabriel is the Intermediate Math Open in which the team holds a competition for middle school students.

Both Webb and Gabriel look forward to having more opportunities to travel after retirement, specifically, travelling at different times in the year. Webb plans on going to New England.

“I’ve actually never been to Vermont,” Webb said, “and the fall colors are supposed to be spectacular.”

Gabriel has more long distance trips in mind. “I’ve never done the Southwest so I’d like to do that, and I’ve never gone to Finland. I’d like to do that,” she said. She’s also looking forward to participating in a safari in the future.

Though the teachers are getting ready for relaxing vacations and looking forward to their new jobs, both are also sad to leave their students and colleagues. The jobs they are preparing for still incorporate their experience in teaching, but they don’t get the chance to interact with as many students any more.

“It’s just something different,” Gabriel said.

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