Math Teacher Judy Strauss Retires

By Jocelyn Maeyama and Javin Pombra

Math teacher Judy Strauss retired after teaching for 27 years at the end of 2016-2017 school year. Once retired, she hopes to dedicate her time to pursuing a variety of other interests, including swimming, literature, music and epidemiology.

Strauss first considered retirement after she was diagnosed with and surgically treated for breast cancer 11 years ago. Her fight with the disease, combined with her passion for swimming, her to become a part of the San Francisco Bay Area organizing committee for Swim Across America, which raises money to fight cancer. A committee member for the last 10 years, Strauss plans to continue organizing and swimming in events in her retirement.

While looking forward to pursuing other passions, Strauss has enjoyed seeing her students grow at Los Altos. Not only has Strauss passed on her knowledge to others, she said she learned something during each of her years at Los Altos.

“Sometimes it’s math related, other times it’s pedagogy or psychology related, and sometimes it’s other things,” Strauss said.

Strauss also made an impact on the teachers she’s worked with. Geometry teacher Brent Smith collaborated with Strauss on the Trigonometry Honors team two years ago and recalled his experience asking her questions about teaching concepts and drawing on the whiteboard together.

“Sometimes she would pause at the whiteboard, marker in hand, waiting for me to fill in my thoughts or my explanation, and I distinctly remember thinking, ‘Ah, she’s not going to tell me what to do here, is she?’” Smith said. “Just like with her students, she wanted teachers on her course team to do their own thinking.”

When asked what guidance she’d give to her successor, Strauss emphasized the selflessness of teaching.

“Enjoy the ride,” she said. “Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about the students.”