Though summer is often a time for separating oneself from connections to the school, during the week of June 30 many students actively sought them out.
Classmates found a unique source of comfort and solace in each other as they came together to mourn the loss of life science and biology teacher, mentor and coach Kenneth Green. Green passed away due to a heart attack Friday, June 29.
Many students used Facebook accounts to post anecdotes and memories in a variety of groups with names like “In Memory of Mr. Green.” Students placed flowers, photos and letters in front of room 709 to give back to a man who had given so much of himself.
Green was heavily invested in his students’ success. Although he was known as a “tough grader” and sometimes assigned challenging work, it was always Green’s primary goal to help students reach their full potential and push themselves both inside and outside class.
“For the first time ever, a teacher believed in me,” senior Julia de Alcuaz said. “[He] pushed me to see that with some work and determination, I can [be] and am just as smart as other people.”
Green was a helpful teacher whose “door was always open” to students who had questions or concerns about course material and just life in general.
“He taught me things far beyond what is expected of a high school teacher,” said Dan Rosenfield, ‘04. “He helped me answer some of the questions I had growing up about the ins and outs of life.”
Green was also devoted to his students in the sports arena. A strong supported of the school’s athletic teams, Green served as the varsity football coach for three seasons and brought the Eagles to victory in 2000 during the league tri-championship games. More recently, he served as the assistant golf coach at Mountain View High School Green inspired in his players a sense of spirit and team unity that led them to first place.
“He cared about his students and players as if they were his own children,” Dan said. “I’ll always remember when he told us that perfection is unattainable, there is always room for improvement and our job is to get as close as we can to that.”
Green also cared deeply about his family. His entire evenings, weekends and holidays were devoted to spending time with his wife, Li Green, and his now 20-month-old daughter, Yaeko Virginia.
“He always used to put [Yaeko] to bed,” Green’s widow Li Green said. “So for the first two weeks it was really hard on her. The first night we came back after he had passed away, she would cry and cry, then suddenly she stopped … I realized she was looking at a slideshow [of Ken] on our PC screen.”
The trio often took trips to San Francisco on Saturdays and Sundays to visit the beach and the zoo. They traveled to Japan twice, where Li lived for most of her life.
Green had many hobbies and engaged in a wide range of activities growing up. While he was a “natural athlete,” Green also had a strong interest in the humanities and the arts.
“Music was a major part of our relationship,” Green’s brother Jonathan Green said. “Buying albums and going to concerts were always things that we enjoyed doing together. He also collected comic books and other collectibles when he had the time.”
Green’s memorial service, held on July 6 and 7, was attended by family, friends and members of the school community. Friends flew in “from all over,” and a handful of Green’s students gave very moving speeches. Though the purpose of the service was sad and difficult, it turned out to be much more a celebration of his life than the mourning of his death.
“It was a very nice gathering, very cheerful,” Li said. “It was great remembering all the memories we had with him.”
Throughout his life and even after his death, Green had a tremendous impact on all those around him.
“Ken affected more people than I will ever known about, and that is an amazing accomplishment,” Jonathan said. “I will miss him more than words could ever express.”
Green will be remembered for his positive attitude, incredible teaching and his “awesome sense of humor.”
“He had a loud, deep laugh,” Li said. “I knew that was the quality of a person who has a good heart—their ability to laugh hard and loud.”
In lieu of flowers and gifts, memorial contributions can be sent to The Yaeko Green Education Fund, P.O. Box 7208, Redwood City Ca 94063.