Mahoney says goodbye to teaching after 38 years

by | May 23, 2017 | in Campus | No Comments

Math teacher Edmund Mahoney has not always been the sarcastic, unique math teacher who Piedmonters know today.

After Mahoney moved to Oakland at age 12, he said that his journey in the Oakland School District introduced him to the profession of teaching.

“In high school I always thought ‘this would be a good job, I could do this,’” Mahoney said. “I wanted to be one of those teachers who was light and did a good job.”
Mahoney went on to study mathematics at UC Berkeley, taught at Skyline High School, and tutored on the side.image

He attended UC Berkeley again for his teaching credential and accepted a part-time job at Del Valle High School in the Acalanes district. The school shut down one year after his employment due to budget cuts and low admissions.

“I always felt like I had something to do with that, I feel a little guilty,” Mahoney said. “Hopefully it was just a coincidence.”

Luckily, PHS was hiring. In his first year, Mahoney taught a general science class and basic math classes, but soon switched to teach Calculus and Algebra 2. After 38 years, Mahoney said that he never tired of the subjects.

“I love teaching Calculus most, specifically AB because I feel like I get to teach most,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney additionally praised the students he teaches, saying that his high level students are motivated and smart.

“The classes that I have been fortunate to teach all attentive and ready students, ” he said. “I am a very lucky teacher.”

Mahoney later said that he is proud of the academic system he has created. By getting work done completely in class, Mahoney does not feel the need to assign homework.

“In the old days I did the lecture, give homework type of classes,” he said. “But today I think I teach complicated concepts as well as I can with a minimal amount of stress.”

Junior Natasha Yskamp Long said that she loves Mahoney’s teaching style because it allows her to learn all of the new concepts with the teacher present and available to help. His ability to understand the class is also impeccable, she said.

“He reads the class really well,” Yskamp Long said.

Mahoney said that his empathy with students stems from his hatred of being a student himself. To Mahoney, homework was busywork that rarely added to his understanding. Consequently, he adopted his no-homework policy.

“I stuck with it, even though I am the oddball, for sure,” he said.

Despite doing all of the work, students still have time to banter with Mahoney in class, senior Paulina Dorfman Su said. His dry wit and sass never fail to entertain.

“I think that the best compliment that I’ve ever received was when a student referred to me as ‘Mr. Sarcastic’,” he said, “I don’t think it was meant as a compliment but I took it that way!”

Mahoney said that the classroom is his happy place. When the students are having fun, so is he. However, he said that he stayed 38 years for the students, and now is his time to retire.

“I knew going into this year that it would probably be my last,” he said. “I was holding off on making it official since you never know if something is going to happen where I need to stay, but as the year progressed I had fewer and fewer reservations.”

Mahoney said that, as much as he will miss teaching, he will not miss the 5:00 am mornings and rush hour traffic.

“I can still teach a class or two or tutor to make a little extra money or if I get too bored,” Mahoney said.

His decision to retire was also financially motivated, Mahoney said. Because he has maxed out his pension, keeping up his current lifestyle would not be monetarily beneficial.

Mahoney said that he has no regrets about his career choice.

“I would have gotten paid much more if I had gone into a different profession but I wouldn’t have had so much fun!” he said.

Now Mahoney is looking forward to an unplanned life full of walking his dog and renovating his new house with his wife.
“Hasta La Vista, Baby!” Mahoney said.