Trojan Tribune

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Cooney calls it a career

After teaching for 26 years, English teacher Howard Cooney is now retiring.

After+teaching+for+26+years%2C+English+teacher+Howard+Cooney+is+now+retiring.+
After teaching for 26 years, English teacher Howard Cooney is now retiring.

After teaching for 26 years, English teacher Howard Cooney is now retiring.

After teaching for 26 years, English teacher Howard Cooney is now retiring.

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After teaching for 26 years, Howard Cooney is now retiring.

Cooney was born in Bell, California, but grew up in Long Beach, California. He studied at Long Beach City College where he earned his AA. “I also went to Long Beach State, and majored in English, earning my B.A, M.A.,” he said.

He then started working in Hawaii. “I worked one year in Ho Maka Ho Drug Rehabilitation Facility one year, Seabury Hall two years, Kekaulike High School five years,” he said. After living in Maui for thirty-two years, he then moved to California, where he then taught at Long Beach State University for two years and then spent the last 16 years of his career at Alisal High School.

Cooney ended up moving back to California because of his wife. Cooney stated, “I left Maui after living there for 32 years. I left because my wife at the time wanted to be nearer her daughter and two grandchildren, who lived in Carmel Valley.”

Cooney then began working at Alisal shortly after he moved back to California. Cooney has only taught English. “But I have taught at all grade levels (but only one freshman class for one year). For a number of years I ran all the remediation programs during the year (Summer Intersession, Winter Intersession, Spring Intersession) and for 10 years I was the AP Coordinator,” he said.

What Cooney loves the most about Alisal is that the admin really leaves them alone as long as they’re doing their jobs. He said, “I love the students. I love being the underdog. I love being part of the struggle to overcome. And I love Mexican food and mariachi music.”

He will be missed by his English colleagues. English Department Chair Jane Albano stated, “Though he is thousands of miles away from Hawaii, his home, Mr. Cooney always has the aloha spirit. He may sometimes seems gruff on the outside, but he is always kind and generous, always givingfrom the bottom of his heart of gold. Mahalo nui loa, Mr. Cooney! Alisal will miss you.” Ignacio Mendez, who had started working around the same time as Cooney and his been his neighbor, will also miss Mr. Cooney. He said, “I’m a little sad and happy for him. I’m sad because we have been great colleagues and we started the same year. I have always told him he’s like my American father. I’m also happy for him because it’s his next chapter of his life. He finally getsto do some of the things he enjoys doing without having to worry about getting up early in the mornings. I will miss him dearly and just wish him the best.”

While living in Hawaii, Cooney had many hobbies – surfing and outrigging canoeing. “In Hawaii, being a member of a canoe club is pretty much a lifestyle, and it is a celebration of all things Hawaiian: food, hula, music, language, etc. I was a member of the best one in the state, Hawaiian Canoe Club,” he said.  Unfortunately, the water here is way too cold for him. So, he just travels abroad.

Since he’ll be moving back to Maui, Cooney will definitely find something to do. He said, “I’m sure I’ll find something to do. I have some opportunities in education there. I’m also going to renew my country club and canoe club memberships and get back into golf and get back in the water.”

Over the past sixteen years of working at Alisal High, Cooney had made some pretty memorable memories. One thing he won’t forget is his first open house when he met the parents of his students who worked ten to twelve hour shifts to ask how their kid was doing in school. He said, “Throughout the years I have had a wonderful experience being part of the Alisal family. When life has handed me tough times, it has been my friends on the faculty/staff and the students who have given me support and encouragement. That’s what makes this place special.”

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Cooney calls it a career