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San Benito
May 30, 2024

Science teacher to retire from alma mater after 37 years

Courtesy of San Benito High School:

San Benito High School science teacher and coach Bill Johnson is retiring after final exams next week, ending a 37-year tenure at his alma mater.

Asked why he was retiring now, after having hinted about it in recent years, Johnson said, “I don’t know — maybe because I had been threatening for the past five years, I felt people were starting to look at me like the boy who cried ‘wolf.’”

Johnson, who graduated from SBHS in 1969 and played football for the University of California, Berkeley, started working at SBHS in 1982, when then-HR Director Steve Hailstone was looking for a science teacher and football coach, both of which Johnson had done at Gavilan College prior to working two years in Sacramento for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

He started teaching four different classes (biology, plant science, algebra and pre-algebra) in three different classes.

“They say you can do anything after your first year” teaching, Johnson said, noting that throughout the years he has taught physical education along with Genetics, Advanced Placement Biology and AP Environmental Science.

Johnson said he has “loved making connections” with his students, “sharing life lessons, the wonder of science — especially biology” and has “made some really good friends.”

He said he particularly has enjoyed the relationships he has forged through the years with the students he has coached.

At various times in his four decades on campus, Johnson has coached baseball, football, wrestling, and boys’ and girls’ golf. He said he doesn’t remember how many seasons total, though HR gives him credit for 22.

Johnson was the defensive coordinator for Carey Laine’s 1984 and 1985 Central Coast Section football championship teams and was the head coach for the squad that earned the three-peat in 1986. Last year, Johnson was inducted into the Baler Education Foundation Hall of Fame.

His time on campus has seen many changes to the facilities, including the building of new science classrooms in the 1980s, new English classrooms, the addition of the 400s classrooms on the southwest side of camus, and the building of Mattson Gym, named after Bob Mattson, who coached Johnson in football, wrestling and baseball at SBHS.

As for his retirement plans, Johnson said he hopes to be involved with the landscaping surrounding the new construction on campus. “It has been a dream of mine to put in a California native plant garden,” he said, and “perhaps a biological study area.”

Johnson said other than that, “I have never not worked,” so he is “looking forward to finding out if I get bored. If I do, I’ll find something.”

This week, his AP Environmental Science students wore T-shirts with an image of Johnson and the words “Mr. Johnson’s Last APES Class.” A week ahead of the end to his 37-year run on campus, Johnson is proud and a bit wistful, admitting, “I’m gonna miss it.”