After 40 years of teaching at South Burlington High School (SBHS), science teacher Richard Wise has decided to retire. Wise is not known as just a science teacher at the high school, but also as the Key Club advisor and the man who created “popcorn Fridays.” He has done many inspirational and memorable things during his time at SBHS as both a student and a teacher.
“I began my relationship [with the school] in the fall of 1970, so 48 years later, it’s coming to an end. A good part of my life’s work is here,” Wise states.
In the fall of 1970, Wise started as a freshman at SBHS. As a student, he was taught by a science teacher named Paul Jordan. “In high school, I identified with him and wanted to be like him,” Wise says. Jordan was an inspiration to Wise and it was from him that Wise says he learned he wanted to be a teacher. Later, Wise went to Springfield College, just as Jordan had. The circle was completed when Wise started teaching at SBHS in 1978. Now, he and Jordan were colleagues in the science department and co-coaches of the football team.
Five years later, Wise became the Key Club advisor. A student-led organization that encourages leadership by building character and through aiding others, Key Club has been a co-curricular activity at SBHS for 50 years. One of Key Clubs main fundraisers is SBHS Talent Night. “I was part of it when I was a student and I always believed in giving back to the community,” Wise explains.
Wise is known for having great rapport with his students. Regarding his creation of “popcorn Fridays,” he remarks, “I started making popcorn for the athletes, then some kids asked me if I could make some for them.” Noting that he doesn’t believe the tradition will continue, he promises there will be surprise visits, and jokes, “Popcorn Fridays are what people are going to miss most about me.”
Wise decided to retire now because the “fortieth year seemed like a nice round number.” With three grandchildren he is excited to spend more time with, he is also looking forward to traveling and seeing the world. “My dream trip is travelling to Ireland,” Wise says. He also includes Paris and Spain in his future plans. “I’ve never been, and I would love to see those places my own children have seen.”
While excited to start a new chapter in his life, Wise says he is going to miss his students the most. He considers himself lucky to be a part of the school and notes the years there will not be forgotten. Having contributed so much to SBHS, Wise is sure to be greatly missed by his students and colleagues.
SOURCE: Megan Harton, SBHS CDC Correspondent