Six Pillars of Wakefield Retire This School Year

Photos by Victor O’Neill Studios
Ms. Hernandez Cruz, Mr. Beitler, Ms. Soltow, Ms. Mohler, Mr. Almond, and Ms. Coles-Matis in last year’s yearbook. We will miss them all.

The end of every school year is crammed with final projects, anxiety over final grades and everyone trying to say good bye to every one they will miss over the summer. This year, we have to say good bye for more than the summer to six icons of Wakefield: Mr. Almond, Mr. Beitler, Ms. Coles-Matis, Ms. Hernandez Cruz, Ms. Mohler, and Ms. Soltow. We asked them to share the stories they will tell about Wakefield once they leave Wakefield.

Coach Almond said, “The day I will always remember is the first day I started to work a Wakefield, it was March 17, 1993 and it was St. Patrick’s Day. I walked in at 7 am and there was a teacher named Mr. Wright. He played the bagpipes through the hallways, and on the same day during lunch I grabbed a milk carton and drank it; it was spoiled, and I almost puked.” Coach Almond then said, “I actually came back the next day.”   

When asked what story Mr. Beitler, the Equity of Excellence Coordinator at Wakefield would share, he said, “the story of students who I witnessed overcoming incredible odds to be successful in this society: students of color, students who are undocumented. They wanted to achieve things, they wanted to go to college…I watched them succeed. That’s the story that I will tell.” The role that Mr. Beitler has played for the students of Wakefield these past years will not be forgotten. Watch Marwan and Robbie’s Episode of Riding in Cars with Arlington Icons to hear other memories Mr. Beitler has shared with The Chieftain. 

Ms. Coles-Matis talked about one particular student visit, “There had been one student a few years ago that I had helped with his English. He would come over to my Warriors’ Period, on his own, just to learn. The year ended, and the following year he came to see me…it meant a lot to know that he truly appreciated me.” Teachers love when students come back to see them and tell them how they are doing after they graduate.

Ms. Hernandez Cruz will go on to tell stories of Wakefield’s HILT department after leaving. Ms. Hernandez Cruz spoke fondly of her students as she recalls them sharing and helping each other; “We always felt like we were truly family, we shared everything and we helped each other when we needed it. Wakefield is the real world, it’s multicultural. I will probably never travel to all the countries, but I know so much about them because of my students.” Above all Ms. Hernandez Cruz will cherish Wakefield as a second home; she said, “I always felt at home at Wakefield…I always tell my students, too, I live here. This is where we are, where we work; it’s a family.” 

When asked what memory of Wakefield Ms. Mohler will talk about, she said, “How wonderfully responsible and diverse the student body is and how willing they are to let us guide them. I’m gonna miss it.” Our favorite story of Ms. Mohler is when she spoke with then Editor in Chief, Mia Field about her wedding on a Kayake. Read it here.

Ms. Soltow would start from the beginning, “when I first came here 30 years ago everyone was so nice. I don’t know if the students feel it but it is their happinesses and joy that make it fun to be here. I have seen a lot of change in 30 years. One time the former principal poured water on some of the kids who would smoke since her window would be just over them. It’s the little stuff that I’m going to miss.” We are going to miss you, Ms. Soltow. You are the first face people see as they walk into Wakefield.

Thank you for everything you have done for us in your time at Wakefield. You will always be Warriors.