Robin Kramer, who began teaching at what was then Awalt High School in 1978, will retire in June — leaving the music program in great shape and in the very capable hands of a successor she picked and groomed specifically for the job, according to Barry Groves, superintendent of the high school district.
"Robin is one of the very best educators I've ever been around," Groves said of the head of the high school's music department. Not only is she a great music teacher, but she also imparts great leadership skills and life lessons onto her students, he said.
"She's just an incredible person."
A Mountain View High School music student told the Voice of Kramer's upcoming retirement, saying the teacher is still "remembered and loved by her first class."
"I have only been her student for one full year, but I already know how well loved she is in the community of Mountain View," Sophia Rose wrote in an email. "She deserves recognition on a massive scale."
Kramer, who was born in San Francisco and raised in Daly City, has taught music at Mountain View High School for nearly her entire teaching career. After studying conducting and saxophone in colleges throughout the Bay Area, she was a student teacher in San Mateo for one year and a teacher in the East Bay for one year before she was hired as a music teacher at Awalt in September of 1978.
She said that she has known she wanted to do something with music since she was a toddler. Kramer made her mind up after her grandparents took her to see her uncle perform with the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl when she was just 3 years old.
"I was so profoundly moved and changed by that concert," she said. "I want to spark that in my students. I want them to have a passion for something. That was the initial driving factor. It was so profound for me, I just though everybody should love something that passionately."
Kramer is nothing if not passionate, according to Groves. "She works sunup to sundown," the superintendent said — often beginning the day with 7 a.m. marching band practice. She has taken her students all over the state and earlier in her career was selected to march in the Rose Bowl. During the summer, Groves continued, Kramer has been known to teach at Camp Jones Gulch, a YMCA-affiliated band camp near La Honda where they "just dedicated a bench to her."
Her enthusiasm for teaching music has been helped over the years by a school district and region that takes the performing arts seriously, she said.
"I think we have great school programs — from elementary through high school and college — all around us," Kramer said. She said that both the Mountain View Whisman School District and the Los Altos School District have great music programs that ensure children enter her classroom prepared. The MVLA district and administration has remained "absolutely and steadfastly supportive of the arts" throughout her career.
That's a good thing, she said — not only for her as a music teacher, but for the academic careers of her students.
"Music works in so many different ways to enhance the education of students," Kramer said, noting that music lessons can easily segue into math, literature, history and communication lessons.
Kramer is to be succeeded by Jason Kneebone. She "latched onto" Kneebone after watching him work as a substitute at Blach Middle School. For the past several years, he has served as co-director of the music program at Mountain View high and Kramer says she is confident that he will hit the ground running when she retires.
When she finally does leave MVHS next summer, Kramer will be 62, and she said she is looking forward to pursuing passions outside of music.
"I absolutely adore my job, love my students, love their families, and have loved it my whole career, but it's time to turn the baton over and find out who I am," Kramer said. "I know who I am as a teacher. I've been doing that all my life, but now it's really time to get out and discover me, the golfer, the gardener, all that stuff."
According to Groves, Kramer is not wasting any time working on finding out who she is as a golfer. The two of them have a tee time scheduled next month.