By Christopher Wong, Chief Editor
After her 22 years of teaching in Sacramento, Kennedy art teacher Mrs. Mary Lou Hanzlik has made the decision to retire.
Mrs. Hanzlik knew she wanted a career in art from the age of 6. “I was what you would call a late bloomer. When I first entered school, I didn’t do well, but from a young age I realized that art was something I could do well. I struggled in reading, math, speech, and other subjects, but creating art was where I stood out, so I grabbed onto it really early.”
Mrs. Hanzlik took hold of her career at State College in New York, Farmingdale, where she obtained an associate degree in the modern equivalent of graphic design. From there, she transferred to State University of New York, Buffalo, where she earned her B.S. in art education. In 1978 she bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco and continued her education at the College of Notre Dame (now Notre Dame de Namur University) where she received her master’s degree in art therapy.
After working as an art therapist helping stroke and alzheimer’s patients for over a decade, Mrs. Hanzlik finally entered teaching in 1996 at Sam Brannan, where she taught for nine years. She then moved to a small charter school for two years before she received a new job opportunity thanks to her son Andrew.
“He was in the yearbook class, and that teacher, Ms. Thomas, shared that she wanted to retire. She also taught a banner-making class and was afraid that if she left, that program wouldn’t continue,” Mrs. Hanzlik shared.
Mrs. Hanzlik’s son told her, “I think my mother could teach this class.” The following year, Mrs. Hanzlik became the yearbook advisor, and productive ads (banner-making) instructor. However, after Andrew returned to yearbook class his senior year with his mom as the teacher, he dropped the class immediately.
Teaching elective classes is sometimes a challenge because it is dependent on student choice and under-enrolled classes can be cut. productive ads, which at one time received over one thousand calls a year for banners, dropped in popularity and was cut. Newspaper fell through as well near the beginning of just this decade before being revived in 2015. Filling the yearbook class was a struggle some years as the course popularity fluctuated.
However, Mrs. Hanzlik’s ability to overcome these obstacles is what allowed her to leave such a lasting impact on the school and the community.
Now, though, Mrs. Hanzlik will be turning 63 this week, which is surprising to the eye. She leaves to make her own schedule and travel, particularly to Florida to visit her father. Despite her retirement, she shared that she will still be back to help work on the yearbook. Next year’s yearbook class will make good use of Mrs. Hanzlik’s teachings with the seven returning veterans, and forty one student enrollment requests.