School mates

By Meagan Wang

Whether it’s walking to school together, discussing homework or just sitting across a lunch table, its not just students, but also teachers who forge lasting friendships on campus.

Terry Barnum and Rodger Guerrero

Athletic Director Terry Barnum sat at a table under the scoreboard outside Taper Gymnasium on the Ted Slavin Field.

As choral director Rodger Guerrero approached, both Barnum and Guerrero smiled. Barnum said he had a newspaper clipping about college football he wanted to show to Guerrero.

Immediately they began to tease each other, and after a couple of minutes Guerrero started to chant “Fresno State.”

“There are only two things that Guerrero can mention to get me going: Fresno State and when he starts to disparage the USC marching band,” Barnum said.

Fresno State is part of the story of how Guerrero and Barnum became friends. Barnum played football at USC from 1992-95. His first year on the team, the Trojans played Fresno State in the Freedom Bowl, a game which Guerrero attended on the Fresno State side.

“They kicked our butt,” Barnum said. “It was so embarrassing.”

Although football and singing do not seem to immediately mesh, Barnum and Guerrero feel that they are similiar, for they want their kids to do the same things, such as earnestly performing their best.

Guerrero said that he respects how Barnum has such a passion for his job and school.

“We kind of share that bond of mutual respect, despite the fact that he’s from USC,” Guerrero said. 


John Luebtow and Dietrich Schuhl

Science teacher Dietrich Schuhl joked that he and visual arts teacher John Luebtow met on Craigslist, an example of the senses of humor that forms the basis of their friendship.

“We were attracted to each other’s picture,” Luebtow said. “That’s how we became acquainted — through the facetious world of fiction.”

Schuhl and Luebtow actually met in 2001 at a faculty meeting.

“At faculty meetings, Mr. Luebtow likes to provide a commentary, which is intriguing to say the least,” Schuhl said.

Luebtow discovered over lunch that Schuhl is an avid fisherman like himself.

Luebtow hires Schuhl to work with him when he does architectural projects. Luebtow joked that what inspired him to hire Schuhl was his discovery that Schuhl was actually Superman.

“I saw him one afternoon when there was an accident on the freeway,” Luebtow said. “He flew off and saved the people on the freeway.”

Luebtow began working at Harvard-Westlake in 1971. Schuhl had not been born when Luebtow began running the art department.

“I’d been looking forward to meeting him for the 37 years before I got here,” Schuhl said jokingly.

Sharon Cuseo and Ed Hu

“We’re like an old married couple,” Chief Advancement Officer Ed Hu said of his friendship with Upper School Dean Sharon Cuseo.

After Cuseo graduated from Stanford University and Hu from Brown University, they were both hired in the admissions office at Occidental College in 1987. The two attended the same training camp for new admissions officers in Colorado Springs and first met each other at the airport.

“After that, we became fast friends,” Hu said.

Both worked together for two years before they went their separate ways. Hu worked at the admissions office at Brown, while Cuseo went to graduate school at Harvard University. The two worked again together at Brown when Cuseo was a part-time reader for the admissions office.

Having worked together twice already, Cuseo and Hu wanted to do so yet again. When there was a job opening at Harvard-Westlake, both applied. Hu got the job. Cuseo was also hired when a second job opened up in 1994. In addition to being two out of the four college counselors, Cuseo and Hu co-taught a psychology class.

“We often joke that we’re two halves of the same brain,” Cuseo said.

“We’re sort of like yin and yang, and actually together we make up a whole person,” Hu said.

After working as college counselors and deans together for nine years, Hu moved to the lower campus in 2003 to run the Advancement Office. Despite this, they have still remained close.

“[We’re friends] really because we’re so complementary,” Cuseo said.

Cuseo and Hu’s long history together is a big part of their friendship.

“If someone just brings up a trigger word, to us it’ll bring up the same memory,” Hu said.

In addition to having such a similar frame of reference, shared values also strengthen their friendship.

“We both very much value education and our upbringing,” Hu said. “We both went to public schools, and our families valued education and hard work.”

“I don’t know anyone else who’s been able to work with their best friend for 25 years,” Hu said.

Jacob Hazard and Kevin Weis

Walking along Coldwater Canyon Avenue toward Carney’s Restaurant, math teachers Jacob Hazard and Kevin Weis discussed the structure of musicals.

“I don’t have a problem with them breaking into song,” Weis said. “That’s fine.”

Hazard nodded as Weis continued, explaining his dislike of musical theater’s tendency of extended “long talking.” That afternoon, the two teachers attended an after-school dress rehearsal of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” after their trip to Carney’s.

Hazard and Weis joined the math department in 2004, and their friendship grew naturally, Weis said.

“We’ve got a lot in common,” Hazard said.

Beyond a shared interest in math, Hazard and Weis have bonded over sports and frequent bowling matches. A few years ago, many math teachers went bowling on the first Friday of the year. Hazard and Weis decided to continue, bowling almost every Friday before school football games.

That year, Weis, Hazard and math teacher Paula Evans bought shoes and bowling balls. Weis holds the bowling high score of 234, which he achieved toward the beginning of the pair’s bowling habit.

“It was phenomenally better than our average when he got this high score, so we were going crazy,” Hazard said.

Ultimately, their routine ended when the price of bowling nearly doubled, Weis said.

“We got very serious about it for a year,” Weis said.

Overall, the competition is friendly, as Hazard and Weis are a close match.

“He’s more consistent and consistently better than I am,” Hazard said.

“I think it’s pretty close,” Weis said.

“Very close,” Hazard said.

Jocelyn Medawar and Jeremy Michaelson

English teachers Jeremy Michaelson and Jocelyn Medawar became close friends in 1997 when Michaelson first joined the English department.

“On a scale of 1 to 10 [of friendship], we’re 10,” Michaelson said.

The English teachers’ friendship started as a result of working together. Medawar was a dean when Michaelson came to Harvard-Westlake, and she taught two English classes. Michaelson and Medawar both taught sophomore English, and the two said they naturally took to each other.

“There’s just a natural level of comfort between us,” Michaelson said. “We have total mutual respect for each other. We think alike in terms of how we approach our work.”

Michaelson and Medawar spend time together inside and outside of school. A couple years ago, the two spent a week in Santa Fe, N.M. where they both took classes at a summer institute. Medawar studied “The Aeneid,” while Michaelson took classes about “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison.

“That’s a great example of our different temperaments,” Medawar said.

This is Michaelson’s and Medawar’s first year teaching Advanced Placement English Literature.

“It’s nice to teach a course with somebody who’s a friend,” Michaelson said. “[Our friendship] is another reason why coming to work here is so great.”


Tom Hudnut and Ted Walch

President Tom Hudnut met upper school performing arts teacher Ted Walch while they were both teaching at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. in 1970. Also, Hudnut and his wife Deedie moved into the house across the street from Walch.

Working at the same school and living near each other, Hudnut and Walch’s friendship grew. Each carrying one of Walch’s dogs’ leashes, Hudnut and Walch walked to school together.

“We became particularly close on those morning walks to school,” Walch said.

In 1977, Walch drove Hudnut and his wife to the hospital when Hudnut’s second child was about to be born.

“Mr. Walch has really been like a member of our family,” Hudnut said.

That same year, Hudnut left to become headmaster at another school in the district. Two years later, Walch also left St. Albans to run a professional theater program at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. However, their paths soon crossed again.

In 1982, Hudnut became the headmaster at the Branson School in Northern California.

“Through a whole number of reasons, this man persuaded me to return to the profession that I truly loved, which is teaching,” Walch said.

Two years later, Walch began teaching at Branson School.

Then, in 1987, Hudnut became headmaster of Harvard School. After the merger with Westlake School, Hudnut lured Walch to the Coldwater Canyon campus.

“I think one of the things that cemented our friendship is that we almost never in any significant way talk business when we’re together socially,” Walch said.

One of the reasons why they initially became friends is because of their admiration for one another.

Circumstances and the intertwined friendships between their family members also strengthened the friendship between Hudnut and Walch.

“There’s a real respect for one another’s professional abilities and intellect and sense of values and approach to life.”

— Additional reporting by Allison Hamburger

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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