Galleon Special Edition: Charles Klager Tribute

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In This Special Tribute: Teacher Goodbyes 2 Teacher of Month 6 Critical Thinking 7

• Enviro. Club 3 • Thank You 4, 5

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In Loving Memory of

Special Tribute Issue of Spanish River Community High School’s award-winning student-run newspaper

November 2013

Charles Stewart Klager December 9, 1952- November 9, 2013

“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” -Kahlil Gibran

Mentor. Confidant. Inspiration. Words all associated with Mr. Charles Stewart Klager, one of Spanish River’s finest. A man deserving of those accolades and many, many more. As we began to compile this special edition of The Galleon: A Tribute, we were humbled by the impact that he made throughout his career and the overwhelming outcry from those who were eager to share their thoughts, feelings and stories. The contributions of former students and colleagues fill these pages with the love, respect, and admiration for our beloved Mr. Klager. Colleague. Friend. Teacher. Father. Thank you Mr. Klager. It has truly been our delight. Photo Courtesy of Tiburon Yearbook


In Tribute The Galleon


Mr. Matt Marks Social Studies Department For the Dearly Departed: Friend, Husband, Father, Teacher, Mentor to Students and Faculty, Traffic Director, Neighbor, Security Officer, Builder/Repairman, Environmentalist, Veteran, Fisherman, Gentleman … Friend. Stewart Klager and I taught next to each other for the last ten years. He was often the first person I had a conversation with in the morning during the announcements, someone I checked in with during the day, and usually the last person I talked to before I went home for the night. I worked in the Media Center after hours and he worked security. He would often stop by the Media Center, shuffle around, and look for a newspaper. I would wait for him to bring it up. Education, politics, and life in general are the things we talked about. He valued my opinion, which made me feel good about myself. I valued his advice, which I found, invaluable. We both enjoyed wearing ties to work. Stew smiled a lot. I will miss my strong, steady-handed, smiling friend.

Paulette Riedel Social Studies Department

Carmen Gallardo English Department There aren’t enough words to encapsulate the man who was such an institution at our school. Stewart Klager would bookend our days with traffic control during morning drop off and campus patrols after school; whether people knew him or not, people certainly knew of him. He was always so proud that we were veterans in the service. He gave me a hug every year on Veterans Day to celebrate “our holiday”; he hugged me last Friday, November 8th, as was his routine. Years ago, when my son Dean was in Little Sharks, he always managed to find him and give my then four year-old a ride on his golf cart. Talk about making his day! Dean called him “Duart” because he couldn’t say “Stewart.” Intuitively, he knew what people needed and valued the importance of contributing and modeling what integrity was for our students and our fellow teachers. There is a difference between doing your job and coming to work wanting to do your job - Stewart Klager was that difference.

Mr. Klager was an institution at Spanish River. Since we share many of the same students, I have often heard about how awesome he was in the classroom and how much he was loved by the students. I could always count on Stew to help me whenever I needed anything- from hanging things on the wall, to letting me back into the building when I was locked out! He was a “SHARK” to the core and will be greatly missed by his students and the faculty. Rest in Peace Stew, you are missed. Photo Courtesy of Spanish rIver ptsa

Donna Pascarella Mathematics Department 1996-2009

Joy Rosenberg Mathematics Department

As a fresh out of college, 21 year old first year teacher, I remember sitting in a faculty meeting. Suddenly, I hear a voice from the back. It was deep, booming voice that was full of confidence. I leaned over to colleague and asked, “Who is that and why isn’t he on the radio?” That voice was that of Mr. Stewart Klager’s. We eventually became “hallmates”, where I got to know Stew better. We shared students and teaching philosophies. He stood out as an educator for his ability to go above and beyond in reaching his students. He communicated not only the subject matter he taught, but helped to instill values and conscience into some otherwise lost young adults. I remember his quick wit while standing in the hallway in between classes and his incredible ability to make one feel important as he spoke with you. He was inspiring to many. An amazing thing about being a teacher is that your legacy has the potential to live on long after your teaching days are lives in your the colleagues you have a future generation. Although, Mr. Klager is gone from this world—way before his time—he lives on in every student who every crossed his path.

As both a teacher and a parent, I truly understand what a profound effect Mr. Klager had on his students. Growing up, my son had always wanted to be an attorney, but by the time he was in high school, there were times he doubted himself. He enrolled in Mr. Klager’s Law Studies class, and from that day forward, with his encouragement and enthusiasm for the law, Mr. Klager became a mentor and cheerleader for my son’s dream. Today he is a practicing attorney and credits Mr. Klager for much of his success. Mr. Klager’s own children were in my class, and I can only hope to have inspired them by a fraction of the amount that he has inspired his students. He will be missed tremendously by all.


In Tribute The Galleon



The Environmental Club will have a reflection and a moment of silence in honor of Mr. Klager at the future site of his butterfly garden at 3pm on Friday, November 15 where all students and staff are welcome to attend. This will be an important and memorable contribution to River as it commemorates one of the most impactful members this school has ever known. “Mr. Klager was one of the first teachers that I met at Spanish River,” alumni Shar Siddiqui said. “His support as a teacher and a sponsor really meant a lot to me.” Many students and staff alike have noted Klager to be extremely caring and one who would do anything to help others. “I know that he will be dearly missed,” Siddiqui said. “I hope that his kindness inspires all who knew him.”

Ashley Roth Features Editor Mr. Klager was the original founder of the Environmental Club here at Spanish River. Students have been greatly impacted by both his love for the environment and his multiple contributions to the club. “Juniors and seniors in the club remember his commitment to River and environmental sustainability,” current Environmental Club Advisor Corrine Jobe said. He has made so many opportunities possible for the students due to his dedication to the club. “Even new club members that did not get to work with him as closely only have the opportunities they have today because of his previous efforts,” Jobe said. “Ultimately, each time a member of the faculty, staff, or student body recycles, his legacy continues. “

Photo Courtesy of the Tiburon Yearbook

“Mr.Klager was by far the most amazing person at Spanish River High School. He was always on campus helping students and keeping them safe. He was the founding sponsor of the Environmental Club. Every Friday, we would talk about the week and how we could make the club better while he opened the theater. He loved his students like they were his kids and treated everyone with the upmost respect. I had never seen or heard about him doing anything less than helpful. He wasn’t just a teacher here at Spanish River, he was a friend and a role model to all, both student and faculty. He will never truly be gone as long as we keep our memories of him alive and in our hearts. I’ll never forget you, Mr. Klager.” -Dane Nobile, 12 Environmental Club Co-President



In Tribute The Galleon

This is a compilation of the quotes collected in memory of Mr. Klager expressing the impact he made throughout his years at River.

A Word from the PTSA:

“Things happen for a reason.” How many times have we all used this phrase? I have thought of these five simple words for several days now. As PTSA mulled over which day to celebrate Veterans Day, who knew the pending importance of our decision? Tuesday or Friday? Which day should it be? We chose Friday because Tuesday would be after a three day weekend. We felt that our veterans should be celebrated prior to the actual day. In retrospect, we couldn’t have chosen more correctly. My interactions with Mr. Klager go back several years. I would see him after school even when my children were still at Omni. As we moved

across the street, and I became more active at Spanish River, he was always within sight… always opening a door, taking my packages, offering me a ride, greeting me in the parking lot in the morning and escorting me to my car at night. He would sit in the PTSA office when he had a free period, enjoying the serene, camouflaged setting among books, wrapping paper, PTSA gifts and posters. He would read. Always something interesting, I would assume. Expanding his already comprehensive base of knowledge. So why was last Friday so touching? I’m not typically in his hallway during school, but that day, I was. He stopped

me. “Thank you so much for thinking of me on Veterans Day,” he said. “It means a lot to me.” Then he gave me a hug. Who knew that would be the last memory I would have? Mr. Klager was a big promoter of PTSA. Always trying to help us advocate on behalf of our students. And that is what PTSA will do. We will bring in the American Heart Association and educate our students about heart disease. How we can live heart healthy lives. How by promoting heart health, we promote overall health of our bodies and our brains. We will rename the Teacher of the Month “The Charles “Stew” Klager Teacher of the Month.” He was always so touched by the notes he

received from his students. As we move forward and begin our healing, we need to remember the lessons Mr. Klager was able to teach us. Not the classroom lessons but the life lessons. Albert Pike said, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” Emulate the goodness. The gentlemanliness. The kindness. The understanding. And always remember to say Thank You. We will miss you my friend. Rest in peace. -Sharyn Schneiderman PTSA President

Brianna Wilmoth Class of 2013 It is safe to say Mr. Klager had a substantial impact on most that walked through River. In some instances, he was the first friendly face you saw. I never had Mr.Klager as a teacher, but he was a great mentor. Everyone knows how forgetful I am, but Mr. Klager always made sure I could retrieve the books I forgot in any classroom after hours to do my homework. There was not one day that I did not have a conversation with him. We spoke about everything that I went through in high school, from sports to academics. He always had the best advice to give me, no matter the subject. He never one day took his key role in the educational system for granted. Mr. Klager with the Social Studies Department.

Charles Keys Senior Class President 1993 Mr. Klager was our class advisor in 1993. He was the true example of a leader, mentor and counselor to many of us. It was sad to learn of his sudden passing; however, it further showed me how appreciated he was. Within days of learning of his passing, Facebook was full of memories and condolences from students that he had mentored and taught over the years. Words could not explain what he meant to the class of 1993. Rest in peace and may your legacy live on. You will be missed, Mr. Klager.

Mr. Klager and his loving wife Liz.

Photos Courtesy of Barbara Jones

in Tribute YOU 5 The Galleon “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.” –Carl Jung

Eric Jourgensen Class of 1994 I was fortunate to have Mr. Klager as a teacher not only my junior year at Spanish River (1992-1993), but also as a professor when I took summer classes at Palm Beach Community College (now known as Palm Beach State). The greatest part about being in Mr. Klager’s class did not even hit me until years later, which was that Mr. Klager prepared me for more than just college, he prepared me for life. How did he do this? He did this by treating me and my fellow classmates like adults when we were in his class. If my work was done for his class, then I was welcomed to work on other assignments, or I could even sleep (shhh…don’t let that secret out). So how did this prepare me for life? Because his way of running his class made me realize that I could do the things I WANTED to do only AFTER I did the things that I NEEDED to do. It seems like such a simple philosophy, and Mr. Klager never directly pointed it out when he was teaching, but he knew that was an important lesson for us to learn. That was the beauty of him and his teaching style…he made you learn without you even realizing it. Years later, I was fortunate enough to see Mr. Klager again when he had my son as a student in 2011-2012. He was just like I remembered him and I hoped my son would learn the same lessons I did. I was glad when my son talked about how Mr. Klager was his “favorite teacher” and “So Cool!” When I would ask my son how his classes were going he always had some story from Mr. Klager’s class. I remember one story he told me that Mr. Klager told him about a group of his college psychology students that he had an “End of Year” celebration with and how they were all “drunk” and slurring their speech and acting all goofy…then Mr. Klager informed them that contrary to what he originally said, their drinks contained no alcohol thus proving to his students the power of suggestion. That was his teaching style, learning though experience. I regret that I never told him how much of an impact he had on me. I know that he didn’t teach for recognition or to hopefully hear about the impact he made, but I know he would have appreciated it. So here we are and Mr. Klager again proves to be the consummate teacher and is still teaching me through experience. Today’s lesson, let the people who have touched your life know it whenever you can because you never know when you won’t be able to.

Barbara Boerstler English Department I first came to really know Mr. Klager when we were co-advisors of the Class of 1993.Then, as now, he showed a loving, enthusiastic, and caring attitude for the students and all things River. He was so easy to work with and we shared like minds about spirit, tradition and guiding the Class of 1993 . I remember his loud, booming, take charge voice that bought everyone to attention when we were trying to organize powderpuff cheerleaders. He even coached the girl’s football team! The Class of 1993 admired him and even now I am getting so many messages from them expressing their sorrow and commenting on what an inspiration he was to them. He was truly a decent man, with no hidden agendas, who loved his country, his job, his students, and the traditions of Spanish River. He will be missed by many generations of students and the River family.

Dana Katz Silbersweig Class of 1997

Art By Michela Mugnatto

He was my Psychology teacher who inspired me to get my Psychology degree. Mr. Klager was such a wonderful man and teacher. I saw him last summer at American Heritage and I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to tell him what an inspiration he was to me.

Brian Schleifer Class of 1987 American Heritage Summer Camp We had a birthday party for my daughters some years ago at a park in Delray. Among the bounce houses and snow cones was Stewart Klager with his camera. He had volunteered his time on a Saturday to photograph the party, photos that we will always cherish. That was Stewart! Some people you meet in life, you only say “hi” to when occasionally running into them somewhere. That was not the case with Stewart. He had a presence anwarmth about him that surrounded those who met him. Having him as a friend or a teacher was a commitment that he took seriously. Mr. Klager started teaching at Spanish River during my junior year. Although I never had him as a teacher, my wife Sally Phipps was lucky enough to have him for Sociology during her time there. She, like many other former students of his, still marvels at his passion for teaching and his ability to make you feel like you were the only student in his class. I did however have the pleasure of working with Stewart for over 20 years during the summers at American Heritage Camp. There was always something reassuring, walking into the gym on orientation day and seeing Stewart standing there, with that bounding voice of his filling up the room. It was always special catching up with him about the year gone by, watching his face fill with pride when he talked about his family, especially Skylar and Shane. A few summers ago, I was talking to Stewart about a trip that Sally and I were taking after camp. We were packing up our three kids and driving out to California. Most people thought we were nuts when they heard this, but not Stewart. "You're like me," he told me. "It's about the journey." Thank you Stewart Klager for making everyone who knew you have a little better journey.


In Tribute The Galleon


Teacher of the Month

“All of us were shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of our friend and colleague Stewart Klager. Stew had a presence on campus that transcended the Social Studies Department. It seemed as if he was always here, whether watching over the parking lot in the mornings, patrolling campus in his golf cart in the afternoons or for me; whenever I needed a handy guy with a vast assortment of tools to drill holes in masonry walls or cut and hang

moulding for my oversized map of the world, Stew was happy to help. When I came to River nearly fifteen years ago, Stew was one of the first to welcome me. Interestingly, we soon realized we are both Charles, but like me, he preferred his middle name. Stew loved teaching and learning! Many times, I would sense someone just outside the doorway of my class. Later, Stew would catch me between classes and say he was just walking by during his planning period and heard

something that piqued his interest. He knew so much about so many things. Maybe that is part of the reason why he was so popular with his students. His classes were wide ranging, interesting and so often applicable to the world outside of school. But I know it was much more than that. Stew’s students realized that he cared about them as people as much as learners. Alumni from decades ago still talk about him as if they were in his class yesterday. He was always

Photo By of Carly Mackler

selected Teacher of the Month early in each school year. It meant a lot to him to read the comments students included because it reflected his dedication and personal connection with his classes. For us to tie last month was an unexpected quirk. Yet it afforded us the singular chance to take a picture together… and it is a photo that will always mean a lot to me.” -Kevin Turner AP Human Geography Teacher

Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Sanders

Past and Present Principals Remember Mr. Klager Dr. Constance Tuman-Rugg Principal 2004-2007

Dr. Susan Atherly Principal 2008-2011

William Latson Principal

Stew Klager was truly a Spanish River Shark through and through. Need someone to help with traffic? Mr. Klager was there. Need a chaperone? Mr. Klager. Students need some additional help? Mr. Klager never hesitated. During my time working with him, it was apparent he loved his personal family and he loved his school family. Mr. Klager will be missed and remembered by all who knew him.

I had the honor of working with Stew Klager for four years at the “River”. He was a true icon and was dedicated to the school and the community. During the time that I was Principal at Spanish River, he demonstrated genuine care for his students and advocated for student success. I could always count on Stew for his “helping hands” to make Spanish River a better place each day. He will be greatly missed by all.

I have had the opportunity over the last few years to work with Mr. Charles “Stew” Klager and it has been truly inspiring. Stew is a man of character, conviction, and compassion. He truly led by his example daily, as he was one of the finest educators I have worked with. His desire to show students through his actions, what it was to truly be a human being was uplifting. His care for his students and fellow colleagues was refreshing and he lived each moment as if it was his last. Stew always did the right thing, be it going out of his way to check on a colleague, assisting a community member on campus, or just simply being nice. Stew made a lasting impression on this campus, community, and in the hearts of many. He may not be with us walking the halls daily but his influence has left an indelible mark on Boca Raton and more importantly, Spanish River High School.


Critical Thinking

In Tribute The Galleon


Tom DiFiglio Social Studies Department 1983-2012

If James Brown was the hardest-working man in show business, then Stew Klager was the hardest working man in the education business. He was at Spanish River every single day, coming in early to direct traffic in the parking lot. After teaching all day, he would then shift to night-school security. Every summer he worked at camps for school children, and he also had his own business doing wood crafting and home improvements called Custom Creations. Stewart was an Army Ranger, and you could find him riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to the beaches of Delray in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He then would attack the beach volleyball contests he was in with as much gusto and survival skills as he had as a Ranger in the U.S. Army. He used his superior reconnaissance skills to seek out and discover the love of his life, Liz. He was so proud of her and so excited to marry her. On his wedding day he literally ran out on the dance floor with her to present themselves to the world as husband and wife. Stew was the consummate husband and father. He was consumed with love and devotion and care for Liz and his kids. He was so proud of Shane getting his engineering degrees from the University of Florida and becoming an engineer near Savannah, Georgia. He was equally as proud of Skylar who graduated Duke, studied in England, and just recently became a researcher at Tufts University in Boston. All of his hard work had paid off in delivering two incredible children to the world as highly accomplishing adults. Stewart had many deep thoughts and was a very private, very introspective person who sought answers to all of life’s most powerful questions. On many late afternoons he would often pick me up on the golf cart and ride me to my car while posing incredibly challenging thoughts and ideas. He was deep, but he was humble, and he never claimed to have all the answers. In fact, it was the mystery of life which sustained him, and the thought of a more complex, just and infinite after-life that gave him his drive and determination and intellectual zeal. If teachers are the salt of the earth, and they truly are, then Stew Klager was a pillar of intellect. The silence will be deafening. The presence of his absence will be overwhelming. God Bless his family and friends and students, past and present. And may God Bless Charles Stewart Klager.

Mr. Klager was known for his insights into the world. When teachers were overwhelmed, he often had a story to help those struggling that was guaranteed to result in a smile. The following was written by Mr. Klager several years ago and shared with the Social Studies department: I was just like the rest of you, teaching my classes and trying to get through the day but this was before my life took a tragic turn. A turn which, I hope, you are not on the verge of taking. There is no help for me, unfortunately. But perhaps my story will help prevent you from falling into the abyss that I have been thrown. It started out innocently enough. I began to do this thinking thing at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I realized I was more than just a social thinker! I began to think alone “to relax,” I told myself - but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time. I just couldn’t help myself! I would even find myself thinking when I was engaged in a conversation with other people-this thing has really gotten out of control! Then I began to think in the classroom. I knew that thinking and teaching don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself. I began to avoid friends at lunch time so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the classroom dazed and confused, asking, “What is it exactly we are supposed to be doing here?” I found myself getting lost in my self-induced thinking. I knew I was going nowhere fast! Left on my own I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day Dr. Atherley called me in. She said, “Stewart, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, you’ll have to find another job.” This gave me even more to think about! I headed for the library, in the mood for some Channel 1, or some other thought provoking stimulation. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors... They didn’t open. The library was closed! My heart sank-my hands began to tremble... To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night and I saw the light. As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for at least a glimpse of the Department Head meeting minutes, a poster caught my eye. “Friend… is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker’s Anonymous poster. Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video, last week we watched “Porky’s Revenge”. Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting. I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed...easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking. An integral part of my recovery has been the privilege of having you all for support. I regret, however, that even casual conversations with some of you has occasionally caused me to have a thought. Sometimes even two. I have found myself wanting to ask Mr. Markwardt... to ask him..............questions! Yes, questions. A sure sign to the presence of a deep process of thinking and the demons that lurk inside my head. I have work to do. I regret that unless you turn from your direction toward asking questions I will be forced to discontinue my participation in meaningful discussions with you. I hope this letter has helped at least one of you overcome one of the cruel tricks that life has dealt us...the need to think. S. Klager

- Charles Stewart Klager

“Thank you, you’ve been a great audience.”

Photo By Marni Zuckerman

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