Q&A with Mr. Ford

Los Al math teacher Mr. Ford retires after 34 years of educating Griffins


Bella Kim

Mr. Ford, standing behind his podium in his classroom in the STEM building.

Bella Kim, Staff Writer

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — Mr. Ford, Los Alamitos High School math teacher and Cypress College basketball coach, is retiring from Los Al this year. After 36 years of teaching and 34 years at Los Al, Mr. Ford gives some last advice to his students before saying goodbye. 

The following interview has been edited and condensed.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

When I was in high school, I liked my teachers. I saw how they lived and how they were. It looked like a good thing to do and enjoyable. Then I went to college and changed my major a bunch of times. I came back to it and decided I wanted to teach, and I wanted to coach.

Why did you decide to retire?

You know ahead of time, when the numbers add up to a certain amount. I want to do even more coaching than I’m doing right now. Now I don’t have to worry about getting a vacation in before next August. We can go anytime.

What will you miss most about teaching?

The people – the kids and the teachers. 

Do you have a favorite memory at Los Al or as a teacher?

When I was coaching basketball here, we were underdogs in the playoffs. We went on the road and came from behind and won this huge game. There were so many kids who contributed; it was a team effort. I had a moment where we had to make these two free throws, and we were in timeout. As a coach, you prepare the team: “Okay, if we make one, we can do this, if we make two, do this.” And Caroline, who was shooting, said, “Coach, I’ll make them both.” And she did.

What’s the hardest part about teaching?

When you get a student who just doesn’t get it. Not the math, but just doesn’t get that they need to do certain things to be successful. Not everyone is going to be good at math, but you still need to work at things. You see somebody give up on themselves sometimes, or really not care.

What’s your favorite activity outside teaching and coaching?

Traveling locally – driving to California, Nevada, and Arizona with my dog. 

What’s your favorite local travel destination?

Big Bear, Mammoth, and the Eastern Sierras.