Opinion — 11 May 2018

By Ian Jones

@IDJONESPHOTOG

An era is about to end. In the fall, Ernie Jones, my Dad,will no longer be a fixture at Las Positas.

Dad’s retiring from teaching full-time, a reality that’s hard to wrap my head around. He’s been at LPC since I was at De Anza High in Richmond and was teaching before then. He’s been here a substantial chunk of my life.

He’ll be back in the spring, as a part-time instructor. It’s not going to be the same. In fact, it will be very strange.

Teaching is embedded in every fiber of his being. When our hot water heater flooded the house in 2009, we had to stay in a hotel. Still, he kept teaching at LPC despite having to deal with insurance headaches and sleeping on a hotel bed every night for a month.

It was strange for all of us, and I know it wore him down. It would for anyone. My Dad, though, saw a bright side to the situation – his commute shrank from 50 minutes to about two.

Even when I was really ill and nearly died in 2004, he kept teaching that semester. I was in a hospital room at Kaiser Redwood City. He was in Building 2200 – but then he’d visit me. That was definitely a strange time.

Apart from, presumably, taking his mind off the stress during those times, I think it really speaks volumes about his tenacity and love for psychology.

“He makes an effort to make the subject meaningful,” LPC student Shuja Decoteau said, “and that’s something that very few people bring to the table. I think that’s really special about him.”

He’s had an impact on countless students. Some of his former students have become colleagues, which was, I’m sure, a strange transition, and some students are indebted in other ways.

Current Psychology Club president Harita Udayashankar said he’s the reason she’s still in college.

“I texted my mom on my first day and I told her that if I didn’t like my first class, I would quit. Of course, my first class was with Ernie, and I absolutely loved it.”

As part of his retirement, dad will be giving up his office. That will be strange. I have always had a copy of the key, and I’m wondering how often I’ll try unlocking it before realizing I can’t anymore. Office hours are truly coming to an end.

In the past, when I was on campus but sick, I could hide out in there in his recliner, that many other students have sat in but he himself has rarely had the chance to use. Soon, that recliner, once an always present option, will be gone. It will be strange.

Soon, he won’t have to get up at 7 a.m. and have to face a commute on three freeways. That will be strange, but I know he’ll enjoy less time in the car – and I know my mom will like having him at the house more. That will be nice, she says.

Las Positas has been his – and our – second home for a long time. There have been many highs and lows here. It has special significance. It’s strange to leave that behind, even just a little.

For now, though, consider this our long, sentimental look back before we shut off the lights. The nostalgia. The spent passion. The lives changed. The former students who have become colleagues. The school that’s grown such that it doesn’t need him in the classroom anymore.

“Someone said that they’ll have to change the name of the college, because it won’t be Las Positas anymore,” his student, Staci Franz said.

That’s not my problem, to be blunt.

Fortunately for me and my brother, our class with our father will never be out of session. And that’s not strange.

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