Robert Papendick shows off his awards and old memories from his years in the educational and military career. Photo by John Le

Mathematics teacher Robert Papendick has finally decided to retire from his teaching career after this school year, ending his 18 years of teaching at Fountain Valley High School (FVHS) at the age of 57.

Prior to working as a teacher, Papendick has worked in the military for 12 and a half years and later experienced teaching in the community colleges for a while. From there, Papendick applied to become a teacher at FVHS and since then spent his time on its campus.

“That’s 30 plus years right there, you know. It’s time to relax now,” said Papendick.

After thinking about this subject for a long time, Papendick has finally decided that it was the right time for him to retire just before last year’s Thanksgiving when he mailed a letter to the district announcing his decision.

“Mostly it was time,” said Papendick. “Health reasons and other things, and I can see things that are changing that are gonna produce stress and it’s something that I need to stay away from for health reasons.”

After his retirement, Papendick plans on taking a big train trip to the east coast next fall to visit his friends there. In addition, he is currently thinking about substituting at FVHS once in a while after his 180-day period where he is not allowed to sub is over.

One of Papendick’s favorite parts of Fountain Valley is its people.

“There’s a lot of great teachers here, a lot of really good people,” said Papendick. “And the fact that we have students who actually do try to work hard and keep our API score up high and make us all look good. That’s part of it too.”

Spending almost 20 years as a member of the Baron family, Papendick recalls many memories from FVHS including both the positives and the negatives.

Some of his most tragic ones include his former students’ death including Jeff Hann (‘06), a bright baseball player who unfortunately suffered from cancer and died a year after his graduation and the eerie quietness that he felt after 9/11 where all the planes stopped flying.

Papendick has stated that one of his most unforgettable memory was when Fountain Valley beat Edison for the last time in 2004 at the bell game.

“We weren’t supposed to have a chance, but we surprised Edison. Last minute touchdown, went ahead and won the game, and what I really remember is the drive from the stadium back to Applebee’s,” Papendick said.

Papendick recalled the traffic on 405 as everyone drove to Applebee’s and how people were sticking their heads out from their cars shouting, “We got the bell!”

“We actually had to lock the door and tell them no more can come in, cause we flooded them out. They didn’t have any more room, not even standing room,” said Papendick. “It was quite a night.”

Although Papendick has enjoyed his career in the military possibly more than being a teacher due to all the extraordinary experiences that it offered, Papendick is a true Baron who loves and cares for Fountain Valley and all its students inside.

“Keep working hard. A lot of them do a really good job here, keep doing that, you know. Keep making us look good, keep making them look good, and be successful in life,” Papendick said.

Papendick’s career as a full-time teacher may end this school year, but he will always be a part of FVHS.

“I’ll always be a Baron,” said Papendick.


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