Staff Report

Third-grade teacher Linda Mayer reflected in late May on her last bike ride with her class: “I just realized how long I have been doing this ride with students. The cost of ice cream in 1995 was 50 cents for a big scoop and today an astounding $1.99 for a smaller scoop.”

It was Mayer’s passion for the outdoors and alternative education that led her to start the Santa Ynez Valley Charter School 20 years ago this summer. June 5 was her final graduation and farewell to a school she has represented with passion, commitment and plenty of flair, Charter School Director Dr. John Dewey said.

Known for the 25 field trips she takes her students on each year, as well as her colorful classroom with its myriad lizards and fishes, Mayer took her students on one last trip to the Santa Maria Mini Rodeo.

“Whether it’s project-based learning, field trips, cooking, guest speakers, presentations, plays or puppet shows, Linda goes all out to make every learning experience the most fun, the most meaningful and the most incredible,” Dewey said. “So when Linda shared with me that she was retiring at the end of this year, it took me a moment to take it in.”

Mayer was one of a dedicated and determined group of teachers and parents who started the school with four classes and 80 students. Her vision was a school that promoted character development, outdoor experience, collaboration and hands-on learning.

There is no suggestion that Mayer will change gears in her retirement, as she plans to stay busy with her catering business, family and volunteering.