Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Soon-to-be retired Burlingame High School teacher Linda McLaughlin advises a student during journalism class.
Burlingame High School journalism advisor and Advanced Placement English language and composition teacher Linda McLaughlin is retiring and says it feels like she’s finally graduating, having taught at the school for 27 years and growing up in the city.
McLaughlin, 64, plans to retire at the end of this year. She is part of a long line of family members who taught and attended Burlingame High, including her grandparents. Her three children are even Burlingame High graduates. She met her first husband at a Recreation Center dance when they both attended the school.
“There’s a sense of community and pride in being a Panther,” she said. “Burlingame has friendly, intellectual, cultural and supportive people.”
Her journey to becoming a teacher wasn’t so direct. She attended University of California at Berkeley for two years before deciding to leave, not understanding the protests and political climate at the time. She opened a clothing store called Black Sleep in Burlingame in 1979, but the business didn’t work out and two years later she split from her first husband. She decided to go back to school and eventually obtained a bachelor’s degree in human relations and science.
“I went to my first job fair and I was ready to be hired, but realized I had no experience at all,” McLaughlin said.
She found herself working at the writing center at College of San Mateo where she met her second husband Mike Schneider.
“I did enjoy working with students and decided to go back to school and become a teacher,” she said.
She began teaching the journalism class 26 years ago when the last advisor for The Burlingame B retired. At the time, she said she knew nothing about journalism but wanted to pick up an extra class so she could stay at the school.
“Journalism will be the hardest to walk away from,” she said. “I wish I had been a journalism staff member when I was in high school. You learn so much more about the high school and community.”
One thing that has changed over the years at the newspaper is the technology, she said. She remembers using an old small Apple computer and Pagemaker. They’ve since moved to Google Docs, InDesign and Adobe for creating the paper.
“My most proud moment was when two students created an app (for the newspaper),” McLaughlin said. “They’re so bright.”
She does like to keep herself out of the students’ work in some ways though.
“This is their newspaper,” she said. “I encourage them to be independent thinkers, to be morally responsible and that they think before they leap. … My advice to students is be fair, be clear, be interesting.”
Past students include “Glee” actress Dianna Agron and professional baseball player Scott Feldman.
The timing is right for her retirement, McLaughlin said. She plans on spending time with her four grandsons and two step-granddaughters, travel, research the history of Burlingame High for a potential book and read.
“What’s forcing me out of teaching is grading papers, it always hangs over my head,” she said. “It’s not a way to live. It’s also the large class sizes in English that makes it hard to work with students.”
She said she does plan on writing an end-of-the-year column for the Burlingame B.
For more information on The Burlingame B visit theburlingameb.com. The school has separate online and print editions.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105