David Aboud to retire after 41 year teaching career

72 questions and answers


Sonia Yost

Mr. Aboud began teaching in the 1978-79 school year. He has been working here for 41 years.

High school teacher David Aboud will officially retire at the end of this school year after a 41 year career.  After beginning his career as a social studies teacher, he quickly transitioned to being in charge of the community service program.  Aboud feels it is his time to retire and looks forward to traveling and volunteering.  Aboud sat down with a Mountain Echo Reporter for an in-depth interview about his life and career.

School reflections

Q: How do you feel about retiring?

A: It’s time. I was always told that you’ll know when it’s time

Q: Why are you retiring?

A: In being here this many years, a lot of things have changed and talking to people who have retired before me, they said you’ll know. One of the things is technology, and I’m at the point where I don’t want to learn anymore, so I just knew that it was time.

Q: What’s the best thing about working at Altoona?

A: I have enjoyed the many colleagues that I’ve had through the years. Students have been really great to work with, and I hope that they’ve learned something from me because I’ve certainly learned something from them.

Q: If you had to choose another career besides working here, what would it be?

A: The only other career I even considered was going into politics. So probably something political.

Q: What advice would you give to the graduating students?

A: Learn not to blame others and shoulder blame. Work hard at what you want to achieve. Just remember that it’s not a straight path to where you’re going. There are lots of detours so don’t be discouraged by that.

Q: What is your favorite memory at AAHS?

A: I can think of two assemblies that I’ll never forget. One was Rachel’s Challenge, and there was one a few years ago where Manny Scott came. The program that he put on for our students was amazing. I’ll always remember those two assemblies.

Q: Were you always in your current position?

A: When I started teaching here, I was in the classroom teaching social studies. Then the community service course began and I was asked if I would take it over, which I did. The first year it started, there were 27 students in it and it’s gone as high as 240, but we’ve cut back since then.

Q: What advice would you give to teachers?

A: Be kind and make sure to remember that many students come here because they feel safe, and we need to honor them and be a little flexible in how we handle them.

Pullquote Photo

I hope people will realize that it’s important to give back. The students here receive a lot from our community. They pay for so much of what goes on here. I wish that students would realize that they need to give back to the community. I hope that they do that not only in school but also when they leave school. I hope that that’s what I can do now that I’ll have more time.”

— David Aboud

Q: What will you miss about AAHS?

A: I’ll miss the people that I’ve worked with and the students that I’ve gotten to know over the years.

Q: What are your thoughts on the new school?

A: I’m very much in favor of it. I think it was necessary.

Q: What will you miss most about the job?

A: The interactions that you have with students and faculty. I was always involved in high school in a lot of activities, and I’ve always been an adviser for a lot of activities.  I will miss the things we do for others and the community.

Q: What will you miss least about the job?

A: I wish teachers had more say in what’s going on and how things should be run because at times I feel that the communication is not good.

Q: How do you feel about your years of teaching?

A: I’m proud of it. I did start the student store. There was not one here when I came. Being involved in student council, I heard about the store from other schools.  I’ve worked with principals that have been very supportive of student activities.

Q: Who is the most memorable student you’ve ever had and why?

A: There are two students that I remember. I had one student that graduated in 1989 who was a member of President Obama’s staff, and he gave my family three separate tours of the White House when he worked there. He and I have stayed in touch for many years, and I always remember him. I also had a student, a young lady, who went into fashion design. I remember her because she got a job with Stella McCartney and would babysit her kids and of course would have interactions with Paul McCartney.

Q: How did you come to be in charge of the student store?

A: In my first year of teaching, the student council adviser decided to move. I had a student ask if I would become the adviser for it so I agreed and that’s how I became involved in student council. Then in working with other schools and going to conferences, we heard about school stores so we talked to Mr. Betar, and he agreed that we could start a store. We started with just a little counter, but now it has expanded and changed over the years. As students know, we’re not allowed to sell the sugary stuff anymore so we’ve had to adjust to more healthy snacks and less sugary drinks.

Q: How have students changed from when you started teaching to now?

A: Students are less responsible than they used to be. I believe that they don’t have the work ethic that students had when I first began. I think that they don’t know how to shoulder the blame; it’s always got to be passed off to somebody else, instead of simply accepting the fact that we all sometimes goof, and we need to learn from that. I believe social media has had a very negative impact on people. Not just young people, but everyone in general, not that I’m saying that I could give up my phone, but I refuse to get on Facebook because I’m tired of reading things that aren’t true and how mean people are to others that they don’t even know.

Q: What do you hope is your lasting impression on the school and the community?

A: I hope people will realize that it’s important to give back. The students here receive a lot from our community. They pay for so much of what goes on here. I wish that students would realize that they need to give back to the community. I hope that they do that not only in school but also when they leave school. I hope that that’s what I can do now that I’ll have more time.

Q: Why did you become a teacher?

A: I didn’t decide to become a teacher until the second half of my junior year in college. I volunteered at a Head Start program. Although Head Start is little kids, I really enjoyed teaching them. That really turned me into wanting to be a teacher. Although I knew I couldn’t handle little kids and that’s when I remembered how I was treated as a high schooler.

Q: How have you made an impact on younger teachers?

A: I hope I’ve made an impact. I hope that they see that it’s important for teachers to be involved with their students outside of the classroom. That just what you do in the classroom, that what you teach is not the most important thing in the world. It’s getting to be involved and caring about students, and knowing their problems – that’s important. I hope they see that. I’ve tried to go out of my way so that if somebody needs something, I’ve tried to help them. I hope that they see that and build upon it.

Q: How do you think you’ve made an impact on students?

A: I hope I’ve made an impact on students. People praise what I do, but I’m not sure that I’ve done things that are worth the praise. I hope that I make students feel like somebody cares about them and what they do. I’ve tried to, with the activities, get people involved. Hopefully, I’ve modeled for them how to behave.

Q: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

A: Besides my kids, I was one of eight advisers in the United States up for the National Adviser of the Year about four years ago. I didn’t get it, but I was still one of eight. That I think was a big accomplishment.

Q: Who opened doors for you or impacted your career the most?

A: My first principal, Mr. Betar was important because he was instrumental in getting me hired, and he was very supportive of activities. Mrs. Burlingame, when she took over was helpful. Before her, was Mrs. Fasenmyer and all the principals that I’ve worked under have been so supportive of the students’ activities that we do here. They know that the classroom is important, but they also know that you’ve got to get students involved.

Q: What advice do you have teachers looking to make an impact on the community?

A: You’ve got to get involved. You’ve got to take time, your own time, to do things. They always want to do things during the school day, but that doesn’t have the same impact. So I would hope that teachers would go out of their way, whether it is as a club adviser or even just as an individual, to try to help out.

Personal reflections

Q: Do you have any pets?

A: We have a dog. She’s a golden retriever named Katie.

Q: Who do you look up to most in life?

A: Family is very important to me so I always look up to them.

Q: What are you going to do with your new free time?

A: I plan to travel a little and find two or three places to volunteer at every week.

Q: If you are stuck on a desert island for three years who would you bring with you?

A: I guess I better bring my wife, she wouldn’t like it if I didn’t. I would also bring my granddaughter and my dog.

Q: What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever had?

A: When my wife turned 60, I had a surprise party for her, which she was surprised about, but I also brought my son home from California. 

Q: What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

A: I’m really kind of shy. When I get into a group of people that I don’t know, I’m not very outgoing. When I’m with a group of people I do know, I don’t seem that way.

Q: What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

A: I sent a response to the wrong person, and it gave away something that was meant to be a surprise for them.

Q: What is something that you’re tired of?

A: I’m tired of getting up in the morning and being tired.

Q: What would be your dream vacation?

A: Martha’s Vineyard.

Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen a student do?

A: I went to a Curve game with the senior class one year and there was a rain delay. A student decided to be a smart Alec and slide on the tarp on the field. Unfortunately, he lost out on graduation as well.

Q: What is your biggest regret?

A: I probably don’t think I’ve done as good of a job as I could’ve. I think maybe I could’ve done more to help students. Although I tried my best, I’m not sure how successful I was. So I regret if I missed anybody along the way.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

A: I like to work in the garden.

Q: What do you eat for breakfast?

A: Sometimes cereal, sometimes an egg McMuffin and sometimes nothing.

Q: If you could meet a rock star from any decade who would it be?

A: Paul McCartney. 

Q: What’s your go-to song to put you in a good mood?

A: “Let It Be” or “Here Comes the Sun” or “Yesterday”.

Q: What is one thing you love to do in your free time?

A: In the spring, summer and fall I like to work outside. I’m not good at an inside hobby yet. Guess I have to find something.

Q: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

A: Time goes by a lot quicker than you think, so stop and smell the roses.

Q: Were you named after anyone?

A: My parents went to a movie and the name of the person in the movie was the name that they gave me.

Q: What was your first job?

A: My father owned a corner grocery store, and I started working there when I was 10 until I went to college. I was there every day after school and on Saturdays.

Q: If you could travel to one country what would it be and why?

A: I don’t fly very well, but if I were to go anywhere I would either go to Scotland just because it seems like a beautiful country or I would go to Liverpool, England so I can go to The Beatles Shop.

Q: What did you think of high school?

A: I enjoyed high school, but I felt that teachers treated me like a little kid. So one of the reasons that I went into teaching was because I felt that I could do a better job of treating students in a more mature way.

Q: Where did you graduate?

A: Watertown High School in Watertown, New York and the State University of New York at Binghamton. 

Q: What’s your favorite time of the day?

A: Probably about the middle of the day. You get a good idea of how the day has gone so far. You get ready for the afternoon and get yourself ready to go home.

Q: What did you want to do when you were 12?

A: My dad was in local politics where we lived and I think that at that age, I was thinking politics as something I’d like to do. But I chose to teach because in politics you can win but you can also lose and be out of a job, so I figured that I might as well choose a safe job.

Q: What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?

A: I am uncomfortable when I’m out on a lake or a big body of water. We went to lake Raystown one time and my brother-in-law had kayaks, and I got in it and I paddled about ten strokes out and then came back in because I was too uncomfortable with getting out too far.

Q: What makes you smile the most?

A: I generally do smile. I’m generally a happy person. I try to be a happy person and let other people know that it’s OK to be happy and smile as you walk by someone in the hallway and be friendly to people. Because when you’re friendly to people you feel that way. You feel more alive, so that makes me smile.

Q: What is one habit you wish you could break?

A: My sigh. When somebody does something stupid or I don’t like what they say, I sigh and I don’t realize I do it until I get yelled at by my wife.

Q: What’s your favorite snack to eat?

A: Probably ice cream with whip cream.

Q: Do you prefer dogs or cats?

A: Dogs because I’ve always just had dogs, but when we did have cats, they will bring you little gifts to your front door or the entire house would smell like kitty litter. We had a cat once that after it died, and we decided to redo the carpeting in a room and pulled up the carpet, I could smell cat pee really badly.

Q: What are you most excited about these days?

A: Granddaughters are really a lot of fun. I really enjoy the time I get to spend with my granddaughters. That’s really special stuff, and I keep saying that I wish I had grand kids before I had kids. Kids are a lot of work, they’re fun too, but grand kids you just take them back when you’re worn out.

Q: If you could choose three words to describe you, what would they be?

A: Happy, kind and caring. 

Q: What’s your biggest fear?

A: I think losing a close family member would be horrible. I want to be the first one so I never know.

Q: Do you have any collections?

A: When I was growing up, I used to collect baseball cards. I’m a big Yankees fan, and I had all sorts of cards of important Yankees. When I went away to college, my mother gave the set away to my cousin, and I never started collecting cards again. I also have every Beatles album there ever was.

Q: What is the best piece of advice that you could give?

A: Being kind is really important, not only to yourself but also to others.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?

A: I really don’t which is something that I need to start.

Q: What is one positive characteristic about yourself?

A: I’m a positive person; I think that’s important and I keep going back to it. I think that being positive is vital.

Q: What’s one negative characteristic about yourself?

A: I am kind of shy, but I wish I wasn’t. I can stand out in front of the school and do an assembly, but that’s because I’ve worked here and I’m comfortable here. I don’t think I could walk into a gymnasium of people I don’t know and do that.

Q: Do you drink coffee in the morning?

A: No coffee. I don’t like coffee. I’ll buy a hot chocolate from the coffee cart.

Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

A: When I walk by somebody and say hello and they don’t say hello back.

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest issues facing our world today?

A: I think concerns with the climate is something that we need to be more serious about.

Q: What’s your favorite book?

A: There was a book I read that was the basis of the movie “Gettysburg,” and I really like reading about Gettysburg so I enjoyed it very much.

Q: If you could be any fictional character, who would it be?

A: I read all non-fiction, and I don’t really have a lot of fictional characters that I can relate to because I’m into reading about history and politics.

Q: What’s the best thing that has happened to you this school year?

A: Reaching the decision on retirement.

Q: How do you decompress after a stressful day?

A: I plop in my chair and play games on my phone.

Q: What was your best subject in school?

A: Social Studies. 

Q: What was your worst subject in school?

A: Science or art because I can’t draw a straight line. 

Q: What’s your favorite item in the school store?

A: Doritos. 

Q: Wawa or Sheetz?

A: Sheetz.