Today, I found out that one of my favorite teachers from high school passed away.
Robert L. Maldonado passed away at home on November 25, 2007 at the age of 70. Loving son of the late Manuel and Rose Maldonado. Survived by many good friends and appreciative former students. A native of San Francisco, Robert was raised in San Francisco and was a graduate of Balboa High School, B.A. from San Francisco State College. He had 37 years as a Spanish teacher/activities director at El Camino High School in South San Francisco. He also worked at USA (United Spirit Association) cheerleading camps for 18 years.
Mr. Maldonado, or “Maldo” as he was known by his students, was a spanish teacher by trade. He taught spanish at our high school for nearly 40 years, until his retirement a few years after I graduated. He was also the Director of Student Activities for a lot of that time, giving us direction on holding rallies, dances and homecoming. He wasn’t just a teacher, he became a friend to many of his students. And he was one of the kindest people I had the privilege to know.
My first interaction with Maldo was as a student in his spanish class. I’d see the leadership students coming in and out of his classroom, the buzz of their activities and knew I wanted to be a part of it. I wasn’t the most outgoing person in high school and knew that running for office was out of the question. The only other way to get into the leadership class was with Mr. Maldonado’s blessing. So one day I asked him about it, and he welcomed me in.
My leadership days allowed me access to a group of students known as the student government. It gave me access to the inner workings of the class and the school and often meant coming in early and staying lateâ€”Maldo always around. Some of the best times I spent in high school were being a part of the student leadership class and I have Maldo to thank for that.
When school ended, I kept in touch with Maldo, sometimes heading over to the school to visit and catch up. And a few times, I was able to help him out with computer issues he was having at his home in San Francisco. He’d always want to pay me for my time and reluctantly I’d accept some cash for the work. I didn’t really want his money. All he’d done to boost my confidence in high school, the least I could do is help him out when he needed it.
After a few years, we’d lost touch, but I’ve thought of him often, wondering what he was up to. So, when I signed onto the Classmates.com page for our class and heard of his passing, I was deeply saddened. He passed away a week ago and I’d have loved to have been able to pay my final respects at his funeral. Unfortunately, I found out a few days too late.
So, Maldo, wherever you are, I thank you for giving me the confidence to enjoy some really great times in high school and afterwards. I only hope that others have a chance to have a teacher that inspires them and makes them better than they were.
Buenos noches, senior Maldonado.