Robert Guizzo Retires After Four Decades
After 43 years of teaching under the Dome, Mr. Robert Guizzo is hanging up his lab apron to do More. More WHAT, you ask? Well, likely more of the same stuff he enjoys already - cooking, hiking, reading, swimming, and spending time with his grandchild among other things. Travel eventually. After all, he has time to figure it out. 2018 grad Carston King sat down with Mr. Guizzo at the end of last school year to take a look back on how Guizzo got here, what has changed, what hasn’t, and maybe NEVER will.
Where did you go to college, and how did you end up at OHS?
I went to the University of Dayton (UD), and studied biology. I wasn’t thinking of being a teacher in college. I worked at summer camps, did some tutoring, and thought of teaching as a part-time thing. It didn’t develop in my mind as being a profession until halfway through college. I came to Oakwood right from UD, or actually in August, 2 weeks before school started. Summer of ‘75 was really hard to get jobs. I had 2.5 interviews all summer.
How do you have ½ an interview??
I was living in Chicago and got a call from Dayton City Schools. I went to the interview, and they checked off a series of questions about address and education, and then said, “Thank you” (as in the interview is done). And I say, “But wait, I have questions.” What grade, what level, what school, etc? He tells me, “We don’t have a job opening”, and I ask, “Well then, why am I here?” He tells me, “We always want to have a face-to-face with those we put on our substitute list.” When I heard that I tore up the paperwork, and said, “Don’t ever call me.”
You taught at OHS for over 40 years. How has teaching changed?
Technology. I can remember when there were no phones in the classroom. You would collect your messages and find a phone to use in the principal or secretary’s office, teacher’s lounge - forget about privacy. The first computers came in ‘77 or ‘78, and today there’s more computing power in your watch than in one of those big boxes. But the individual who made the biggest change in computing was Terry Spires. He got everyone K-12 on the same system, and made a huge difference in the technological advancements at the school. He was a great teacher, and took away the fear and loathing in using computers and made the technology very intuitive.
Grades are online, and parents have access. I think it’s a very healthy thing for people to be informed.
Coaching and Title 9: We had individuals tasked with implementing the Title 9 opportunities for women in sports. The Athletic Director, Floyd Ballinger, and Carl Reichert did a helluva job (‘75-’79) creating new programs - including women’s gymnastics for three years. I started the Jr. High girls basketball program in 1975, coached junior high girls, and then both girls and boys track over the course of 20 years. Integrating track meets was a little difficult and we had substantial push back to combining them from some coaches and community members. To make this happen, the current Athletic Director (Ballinger) said, OK, we’ll have a separate girls meet. He personally called women (many of whom were alumni), and they came and ran the event with pink hats, and after that some of those individuals who were against combining the meets didn’t hold the same views afterwards.
Are students at OHS really that different? Special?
Here is a story to illustrate how students at OHS are different. My first spring as a track coach, 1976 - at Valley View, friend of mine was a track coach. Coaches tell their kids where to go, then we go to Coaches meeting for an hour. We had a terribly long meeting, the field events were running, and the JH team had shorts and singlets for uniforms, no hoodies, track pants - nothing with school colors. Looking out in distance, I couldn’t see the team. “Where are the Oakwood kids?” I say, and my buddy points them out in the stands. “How did you make them out?” I asked him?
“They are in the stands, doing their homework,” he says. They were reading, writing, doing math problems, and writing essays. There were young people all over the place, hormones flowing, and they were all doing their homework. He asked me how I got them to do that, and all I could say was, “This is the culture I have been hired into.” In reality, I would have to remind them to put their book down and get to the long jump before they missed their 3rd call.
How have students changed?
They are as young as they ever were, but face different problems. The connectivity of the internet and social media puts a lot of students in greater jeopardy on an emotional and social basis than interacting face-to-face. I think we are expecting kids to take on more responsibility. The crunch for college money and potential for debt being a long-term problem for many graduates. A lot of students taking advantage of the College Credit Plus program at Sinclair and are realizing they can get a good chunk of instruction down without paying 40k a year. Sophomores and Juniors are now making decisions course-wise that college freshman would typically be making, which puts more stress on them. But I think in general, our students (as well as parents) have responded well.
Women in sports - it empowered so many people. Teachers are a little less formal - teachers used to wear suit and tie - less of that formality. The trend toward hiring younger teachers - today our administrators have been very open to the possibilities that young talent is worth hiring. We’ve hired a number of people with few years of experience that have done tremendous work.
Hardest thing to overcome being a teacher at OHS?
The good is always the enemy of the best...and you can cruise pretty far by being pretty good. How do you continually challenge yourself? Do you use the same lab year after year? The status here should never be quo. It’s easy to do - especially if you get accolades. Complacency is something we all have to work against.
Who would you like to thank?
Floyd Ballinger, community, parents, students for putting up with me. My family.
Thank you, Mr.Guizzo - for 43 years of teaching, coaching, and never settling for the status quo.