Barbara Longbrook, Idyllwild School K-1 teacher, retired at the end of this school year after a 40-year teaching career. “I knew from the age of 5 that I wanted to be a teacher,” said Longbrook. “It was my very first day at kindergarten. When I saw what was going on, what the teacher was doing, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.” About her career choice, Longbrook smiled and said, “I got to do what I wanted to do, and I got paid.”
Born in San Pedro and raised in Redondo Beach, Longbrook and family have been Hill residents since 1989.
Prior to moving to Idyllwild, Longbrook’s first teaching assignment was in Woodlake, California, where she taught first grade and special education. During that time period, she earned a Learning Handicapped Credential and Resource Specialist Certificate of Competence.
Subsequently, she taught special ed and then fourth grade in Vista for a period of 12 years. After moving to the Hill, while her son was young, she substituted and taught fourth grade at Idyllwild School. Returning to full-time teaching in 2001, Longbrook taught a second/third grade combination at Jacob Wiens Elementary and fourth grade at Fruitvale Elementary, both in Hemet.
Finally, Longbrook returned to Idyllwild School in 2005 as a full time K-1 teacher. Remembering her career, Longbrook talked about the value and challenges of her first teaching assignment in Woodlake in the San Joaquin Valley. “All my students were Spanish-speaking kids,” recalled Longbrook. “My Spanish was pretty good at the time. It was a very unique intro to teaching. The parents were migrant field workers, and they so appreciated us teaching their kids.”
Longbrook, who had graduated with honors from Cal Poly in rural San Luis Obispo in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a K-12 multiple-subject teaching credential, had always appreciated hiking and a more peaceful lifestyle. While living in Vista, she watched as it grew and became gridlocked. “We wondered where we could go that would not be gridlocked,” she said. “Growing up in Southern California, we camped all the time, and I always knew about Idyllwild.”
So, in 1989, Barbara, husband Michael and 6-year-old son Brent moved to Idyllwild. “At Idyllwild School we have such a wonderful faculty, and the involvement of the families is such an important part of the school,” said Longbrook. “There is so much time, caring and support from the families. In a small community, you have so many connections. You definitely feel part of something.”
In a memory book given to her by her students, Bethany and Tamra Craig wrote, “You will always be in my family’s and my heart forever. Good teachers are the reason why ordinary students do extraordinary things. You have made a huge impact on me ever since kindergarten and first grade. You are one-of-a-kind and no one can ever, ever replace you.”
Asked what stands out from her long teaching career, Longbrook said, “We get to invest in the lives of these children. It’s all about the kids. I want to thank the community for all the love and support they have given me all these years.”