The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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June 19, 2024

Fabiola Katz retires after 11 years at Whitman

Katz+will+retire+at+the+end+of+the+2023-2024+school+year+after+11+years+of+teaching+at+Whitman.
Niki Rateshtari
Katz will retire at the end of the 2023-2024 school year after 11 years of teaching at Whitman.

Fabiola Katz expected to celebrate her birthday like any other year, but what she did not expect was it to transform into one of the most special moments of her career. Unbeknownst to Katz, her AP Spanish students secretly planned a birthday blast for their teacher. While a fellow teacher distracted Katz, her students hung decorations and quickly adorned the classroom with balloons and streamers. When Katz returned to the dark classroom, her students startled her with their roar of “surprise!” After celebrating with cake and hugs, her beloved students ended the celebration with one final surprise — a video of them listing the reasons they love her. 

Katz will retire at the end of the 2023-2024 school year after 11 years of teaching at Whitman. Throughout her tenure at Whitman, she has taught several Spanish classes, ranging from Spanish 1 to AP Spanish Language and Culture. Katz has overseen her AP students for a significant portion of their Spanish careers, teaching level five honors last year, she said.  

Over the years, Katz has formed priceless bonds with her students. Even years after they graduate from Whitman, some students still reach out to Katz for support.

“This guy and girl met in my level five class, they started dating, and they are going to get married,” she said. “They were in Thailand, and they [sent] me pictures of them.” 

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Katz has proven to be an excellent teacher with her impressive track record in AP scores and grades. Seeing students communicate in complex Spanish brings her great joy, she said.

“I think my pride is that every year the scores have been fantastic,” she said. “I usually have more fives than fours.” 

Spanish teacher Rebecca Zatz, Katz’s co-worker of 10 years, admires her passion for teaching. Throughout the years, Katz has been infinitely positive and wonderful to work with, Zatz said. 

“She cares endlessly,” Zatz said. “She’s so excited to teach, to share about her culture.” 

Katz grew up in Spain and studied to be a lawyer. She eventually moved to the U.S. after getting married and having a son. Katz decided to become a teacher to focus on her son while educating people about her culture. 

Over their 10 years as coworkers, Zatz and Katz have formed a strong friendship. This year was an exciting experience for them because it was the first time they taught the same level of Spanish. 

Current senior and AP Spanish student Joseph Akinyoyenu was a student of Katz for two years. He admires her energy while teaching like many others, he said.

“Even though the content was sometimes difficult, the way she spoke about it was very enthusiastic,” Akinyoyenu said. “I appreciated that.” 

In such a rigorous class, the environment is as important as the teaching. Katz emphasized to her students that they don’t have to be Hispanic to comprehend and communicate in Spanish. She has inspired them to learn through more achievable means, like watching Spanish movies or shows, Akinyoyenu said. 

“She’s not just teaching the material to teach,” he said. “She actually talks to the students and wants to learn more about them.”

Last year, in the early hours before the AP Spanish Lang exam, Katz gathered all her students for a celebratory breakfast. Students enjoyed hot chocolate and platters of bagels — relieving some pent-up stress before the exam. 

Throughout her career at Whitman, Katz has impacted many staff and students. After retirement, she plans to travel back to Spain and visit her family. Though she is excited to travel, Katz is sad to leave a place of many memories behind, she said. 

“The energy you get when you walk in the classroom, it’s just amazing to have these wonderful kids,” Katz said. “You’ve seen them grow as human beings.”

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Niki Rateshtari, Photo Director
Grade 11

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