Three Favorite Retired Teachers to be Honored

By On January 13, 2016

The Burbank-Burroughs Alumni Assn. proved it is building momentum after it experienced spikes in attendance at its two November events.

“The alumni association is experiencing a great upsurge in popularity as we saw with the increase in attendance from 50 to 100 graduates and supporters at the third annual Tailgate Event before the Burbank-Burroughs Homecoming Football Game and we also doubled the number of those attending our November Mixer,” said Joanne Lento Miller, association president.

“Graduates of all ages from both schools really love getting together and talking about school days,” she added. “It’s what make Burbank such a special place to grow up!”

Alumni and administrators from both schools and school board officials past and present will have a chance to greet three beloved retired teachers when the nonprofit group has its next quarterly mixer from 6 to 8 p.m. this Wednesday at Once Upon a Page store, 2527 W. Magnolia Blvd. The suggested donation to attend is $5, which goes to scholarships for graduating seniors of both high schools.

One need not be a graduate to attend. Parents and other school supporters are welcome to join in on the wine and cheese reception.

Retired faculty members being honored are Ken Tada, Carolyn Bailey Grogan and Mary Kolegraff Rago.

Tada was a student at Burroughs from 1961 to ‘64 and served as Associated Student Body president in 1963. He coached at Burroughs from 1965 to ’80 and was head tennis coach for the Varsity and Junior Varsity teams from 1972 to ’80.ken tada image

He taught at Burroughs from 1970 to ‘02 and was Associated Student Body advisor from 1990 to ’02. He was also involved in the Young Life club from 1970 until the early 1980s.

Tada was a very important person to alumni member Gilbert Tobon during Tobon’s high school years.

“He was my Young Life leader all three years I was there,” Tobon said. “I remember many of his inspiring messages and his dry sense of humor and quick wit. The message of Young Life I have carried with me my whole adult life.”

Grogan began teaching in 1968 at Luther Burbank Junior High as a ninth-grade English teacher. She taught there until the fall of 1990 when the district changed from Junior High schools to Middle Schools and ninth-graders went to high schools.

A graduate of Burbank High School, Grogan returned there to teach ninth grade English and 11th grade English Honors classes along with being California Scholarship Federation advisor for many years.

She retired after 42 years but keeps busy as a volunteer teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, tutor and a devoted grandmother.

“Carolyn is a perfect candidate for the alumni mixer because she has touched the lives of so many students who are graduates of both Burbank High School and John Burroughs High School,” said Roberta Reynolds, Burbank High School graduate and member of the Burbank School Board. “Over the course of her career starting at Luther Burbank Junior High and culminating at Burbank High School, she has been a favorite teacher of at least two generations of students.”

Rago started her career with the Burbank District in 1974 at Muir Junior High School as vocal music teacher. In 1978 she moved to Burroughs where she taught English and a small music program.mary rago image

Soon after, the vocal music program became her full-time assignment. She retired after teaching there for 28 years and seeing the program grow from 30 to more than 200 students in seven choirs, acclaimed for their excellence in both concert and show choir mediums.

Her vocal music program continues today, led by her former student Brendan Jennings, and she still works with students as a Burbank substitute teacher in music and English, adjudicator and clinician, nationally and locally, and conducting the John Burroughs Vocal Music Assn. Alumni Choir.

In the almost 10 years since her retirement, Rago’s teachings and example to always strive for excellence are evident in the lives so many of her students, said Connie Trimble, a Burroughs graduate and employee of the district’s human resources department.

“Countless students have gone on to successful careers in a variety of fields including teaching, law, medicine, business and, of course, music,” Trimble said. “Their respect and love for her continues as they return to see her at shows and now even have their children in the music program at Burroughs. She has created a real legacy and still continues to add to it by volunteering with today’s students in the Burroughs Vocal Music Assn. program.”