Lenore Sazer retired from Idyllwild School. Photo by J.P. Crumrine
Lenore Sazer retired from Idyllwild School.
Photo by J.P. Crumrine

“In my 33 years of education, Lenore [Sazer] is one of the very best teachers, if not the best, I’ve ever had the privilege to work with,” Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer wrote in an email.

Sazer, after 24 years of teaching and serving the Hill, retired last week.

She has no immediate grand plans. “I’m letting things settle, seeing what opportunities come, then deal with new directions,” Sazer said. This week, she went camping at the same site she visits each year following the end of school. Her children and some friends will share some time with her during the week, then she’ll return to Idyllwild.

But Sazer affirms that she is “exceedingly very excited” about the impending life change. “It seems unreal, a challenge,” she admitted, after 37 years at the front of a classroom.

Middle school science was not always the subject Sazer taught. When she finished at Occidental College and Immaculate Heart College with a master’s in Leadership Change, she began with preschool and kindergarten students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She moved through grade levels third, fifth, sixth and was teaching in middle school, when she and her family came to Idyllwild.

She and her former husband had spent several vacations in Idyllwild and began to wonder what it would be like to raise their family here. It was the community that attracted their attention. So, as a parent, she took a career risk.

Sazer wrote the Hemet Unified School board, offering to transfer here — to Idyllwild if a position were available. “It was the right place at the right time,” she agreed. And that is how this beloved educator arrived in Idyllwild. After arriving in Idyllwild, she became devoted to science and obtained that credential.

“One thing about teaching in Idyllwild is it’s so special,” she said beaming. “When we moved here as parents and teachers, we were embraced by the school’s community. The school became our social world — our friends and our children’s friends — it became my Idyllwild family.

“I’ll miss it. I’ll miss the relationships I’ve built,” she said sorrowfully. “I’ll miss the kids I really care about. But it’s time to do something else.”

Sazer was not merely a classroom teacher at Idyllwild School. Her influence with students extended beyond the school’s walls and fences. She and her early colleagues were instrumental in creating and building Idyllwild’s well-known outdoor programs and trips, such as to Joshua Tree and Catalina Island.

“She is the heart and soul of our outdoor education programs in Middle School.  She organizes and coordinates the three big MS field-trips to Joshua Tree (grade 6), Catalina (grade 7) and Astro Camp (grade 8),” Kraemer volunteered.

“For me, being able to continue the outdoor education programs has been one of the most significant things I’ve done at Idyllwild School,” she said proudly. But her classroom contributions cannot be under-estimated.

For example, while this reporter was interviewing Sazer, Daniel Miracle, a former student, approached us and offered his unsolicited opinion: “She was the most influential teacher I ever had.”

“She is able to make connections with all students and motivate them to achieve. When I enter her classroom all students are engaged and on task,” Kraemer said.

The efforts of Sazer and her teaching friends created an unparalleled science program at Idyllwild. “At one time, Idyllwild was like a science magnet school,” she affirmed.

“Her tenacity and support for a quality science program at Idyllwild can’t be overstated. We have an outdoor education program that, to my knowledge, is unequaled in our district,” said Vic Scavarda, former Idyllwild School teacher and current HUSD board trustee. “I experienced these programs firsthand as a parent. They probably wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Lenore, everyone on the booster club and our community, Mr. Kraemer, and the staff at Idyllwild School.”

But times and people evolve, so Sazer is prepared for new adventures. But she’ll miss the school community. “One of the biggest changes was personnel,” she lamented. “When I started and my children were there, it had a much stronger sense of community because many of the staff members also had children so parenting and teaching were combined.”

“On reflection, she had a huge influence on my kids when they were at Idyllwild,” Scavarda added.

“Watching and working with kids doing things they’ll remember for the rest of their life has been significant,” Sazer said, describing her joy of teaching.

And this joy was shared with students, colleagues and friends. “I believe teaching is a true art form and I would say Lenore is the Michelangelo of the teaching profession,” Kraemer said.

Editor's note: The headline was changed to clarify that the teacher is retiring.