Teacher Besties


Jaeeun Park, Reya Mehta, and Kimberly Ayson

West Ranch is known for close bonds within its faculty and student population, which allow Wildcats to grow in the best environment. This season, The Paw Print was able to interview a few members of staff to chat with their best friends on campus and learn more about the wonderful people teaching us. 

Ms. Frame and Mr. Barnes

How does working with your best friend affect your work life? 

B: It helps, because this is my first year working as an actual teacher, and having Ms. Frame as my roommate and friend, basically family at this point, has been very helpful because anytime I have an issue with something, she comes and helps and gives advice, or I just get to vent to her and she understands.

What, if anything, do you do together outside of school?

F: We went to a lot of drag shows last year.

B: We watch a lot of “Rupaul’s Drag Race” and “Game of Thrones” in our household. Sometimes we’ll go to museums, stuff like that. Immersive experiences.

F: Like he said, we’re basically family at this point, so we go to each other’s family events too.

What dynamic duo would you compare your friendship to?

F: …Rupaul and Michelle?

B: Yeah, great, Rupaul and Michelle.

F: I’m probably Michelle. And you’re probably Rupaul, to be honest.

B: You’re like Elphaba, and I’m Glinda.

F: I don’t know, am I the Obi-wan to your Skywalker?

B: C3PO to R2D2.

F: I’ll take that one. I’m probably R2D2.

What is your favorite part about the other?

B: My favorite part is Ms. Frame’s ability to listen to all of my problems. I think that she has been incredibly patient and overall a good friend. I think one of the things that really bonded me to Ms. Frame was when I was graduating high school. I was going through a lot. Ms. Frame’s support was wonderful, and she’s just always in my corner, rooting for me, so usually when I’m in my darkest times, she’s someone I can turn to. And that’s why she’s family.

F: I mean it’s kind of the same thing—just the idea that he trusts me, you know?

Mr. Varner and Mr. O’Brien

When did you become friends and how?

V: We were associates because I was at Canyon and he was [at West Ranch]. We were both football coaches so we kind of knew each other like that. And then when I moved here, we started chatting.

O: We’ve known each other, boy, we would have to go back-

V: -15 years maybe?

O: Something like that, in the sense that we travel in the same circles. And even in there we’ve noticed that there’s a class of people in this job and coaching and we’re kind of a slightly different take on it. And only in the last three or four years, five, we’ve gotten to know each other better since then.

How has your first impression of each other changed?

V: For me, I was surprised at how funny he is. I mean, he got Teacher of the Year in California and so, I look at him as being an academic, not having a sense of humor, and then I was absolutely amazed at how funny he is and in the same vein of humor that I have.

O: That’s a good way to look at it. And I guess the inverse of that would be I am looking at a person who’s a military veteran and football coach, so clearly he’s an idiot. And then you find out he’s absolutely not. It’s further from the truth. 

We heard you guys had a podcast together?

O: You heard right.

Can you explain how that came to be? What do you do there?

V: We just noticed our conversations were great, and [Mr. O’Brien] already had a podcast, so I said, “why don’t we just start recording?” and we just kind of played around with it. Then last year, in the spring, we formatted and put some time into it so we created something called “The Latchkey Files”. Our podcast is specifically for Generation X, which are people born between 1965 to 1980. 

O: Before we retooled it to what it is now, the working title had been “It’s Not the Differences.” We had noted that, on paper, if someone were to list our ideologies, our labels were opposites. But when we actually speak and talk about our belief systems, it’s mostly synergistic, it’s mostly the same, even though we approach it from wildly different starting points, and end up in the same spot. Then that got into the ‘Latchkey’ stuff and how we look at ’70s TV. It’s a fun, rather light, podcast, a lot of reminiscence and looking back on things. 

So it’s still ongoing?

O: Oh yeah. We’re sort of on hiatus now because football is very time consuming. 

So “Latchkey” because you guys carried keys in the ’70s? 

V: Our generation was the least supervised of any generation in the United States history because daycare centers or afterschool programs weren’t set up like they are now. We were also the first to have two parents who worked, so we would spend a lot of time coming home alone at 5:30 at night. We would have our key and hook it onto our belt. 

O: We were caught in the middle of the first real dual income generation but before society caught up with that need. So pop culture kind of raised a lot of those kids. 

V: We were the first ones with microwaves, hot pockets and all those sorts of things.

What dynamic duo would you compare your friendship to?

V: We can be like Norm and Cliff from ‘Cheers’.

O: That’s not bad.

V: Wait no, Sam and Norm.

O: I mean I don’t know. 

V: People are trying to follow US.

O and V (in unison): People would consider THIS the original.

O: Which of this [slight pause to point at himself and Varner] are you, is what people ask. Are you more of an O’Brien or Varner? We are the thing that people measure themselves up to.

What’s your favorite thing about each other?

V: For me, I very much seek learning– I always have– and when I talk to him, I come away from a conversation with something I didn’t know. It’s exciting because I don’t know what that’s going to be.

O: For him, I think it would be moral centeredness. It’s a strange combination of moral certainty without moral arrogance. He knows what’s right on more of a cellular level but doesn’t necessarily proselytize that to everybody. It’s refreshing. 

Mr. Stanich and Mr. Hughes

When did you guys become friends and how?

S: Prenatal.

H: We had been in the district for a long time together, and we had heard about each other for a while and I thought [Mr. Stanich] had a really good sense of humor. For a science teacher, he had a pretty good sense of humor.

How has your first impression of the other changed?

H: My impression of this guy just gets better and better. He’s like a great calculus problem. The more often you think about it, the more you appreciate how wonderful it is.

S: It’s been nice to get to know his more serious and tender side, rather than just the joking persona he puts out at first glance.

H: I am pretty serious.

How does working with your friend affect your work life? Does it make it better, why, etc?

S: Yes, it’s fun to work with people that you’re friends with.

H: Makes it better.

S: We have a lot of the same students.

So you can talk about them.

S: Yes, we gossip about them behind their backs—

H: No, we don’t—

S: —and in front of them.

H: We don’t really gossip about students, but we talk, and it’s a common thing teachers say, like ‘How is a student doing?’ and stuff. But it’s good to kind of teach the same subject. It’s good to be able to just call him up and say, “Hey, what’s this?” or ask any questions about different things. Like, we’ve talked often about what we’re doing in class. I’m doing antiderivatives or integrating, and he’s already started.

What, if anything, do you guys do outside of school?

S: Well, we’ve played music, at least once or maybe twice. He plays guitar. I’m learning guitar; I play drums. We did a run, once. We’ve been to some trivia nights. I’ve gone to a few swim meets.

H: We’ve planned lots of things. We planned a mountain climbing trip up to El Capitan. Right? We planned a trip to Texas. We planned a trip to Canada. We planned a trip to Disneyland.

S: We mostly plan things.

H: Yeah. And the good thing is, there’s that hope that one day we’ll actually do that. Because, y’know, once you plan things out and it happens, you’re so disappointed, because it didn’t happen the way you wanted it to. We have the hope that it’s going to be something really spectacular when it happens. What was the Ted Lasso thing? He said,“it’s the hope that kills you.” Do you remember that one?

S: No.

H: No? It’s something from Ted Lasso. But he said we can’t live without hope, so. That’s good. So the fact that we plan stuff out is better than actually doing it.

What dynamic duo would you compare your friendship to?

H: Probably like the Wonder Twins or something.

S: I don’t know them, but okay.

H: Or Megamind. Y’know Megamind?

S: I don’t know, like, Batman and Batman?

No Robin? Just Batman?

S: Just two different Batmans.

Which ones?

S: Maybe the Michael Keaton Batman, and…

H: Val Kilmer.

S: Yes.

H: That’s valid, that’s valid.

What’s your favorite part about the other person?

H: His sincerity. He can quickly turn to being sincere.

S: The down-to-earth openness. The realism. The authenticity.

Mrs. Priske and Mrs. Overdevest 

When did you become friends and how?

P: Well, I started teaching in 1998—

O: That’s when we started being friends.

Has your first impression of the other changed? 

O: Oh, we’ve grown together.

P: No, I know! We have! We don’t hang out a lot outside of school but…

P: I mean, we both were young moms together. I think we were each other’s therapists.

O: Yeah, we can say that.

P: It’s been some years where we needed—being a full time mom, full time teaching. We just kind of helped each other through a lot of it. We’ve had some rough years, we’ve had some fun years.

O: I think when you say first impressions…we live very different lifestyles outside of school, but she’s my best friend. We’re able to put aside any of those differences and just hold onto the friendship part of it.

Did you guys automatically click when you first met?

O: I think in teaching you click with your department just because you all have the same interests, but I think over time—I think it was having kids, and having the same struggles as working moms. And we’re very different moms. I’m a planner.

P: And I’m not. (laughs)

O: And that’s why we always joke about things like that. We definitely complement each other. We help each other out a lot. 

How does working with your best friend affect your work life? 

P: It makes it one billion percent better. We’re getting to the older end of teaching, and so we talk about how if one of us ever stopped teaching or moved on, it would be different. I definitely think our friendship would continue, but it wouldn’t be the same. 

O: It’s already evolved with Mrs. Priske becoming ASB advisor—she’s super super busy all of the time. It’s not a bad thing or a good thing. It’s just change. 

P: Like, we used to have lunch together everyday. She would come down to the culinary room, but now I can’t go down there as much because of ASB stuff. So yeah, it’s definitely changed but—

O: I think in our friendship the biggest thing is that we find time.

P: Yes. 

O: We call each other outside of work a lot more often now, and we make time outside of work to go and hang out, things like that. 

P: And we’ve gone on trips together with our families and our husbands, it’s definitely evolved through the years. Everybody needs a work-BFF but I feel like it’s gone from just a work-BFF to an outside-of-work-BFF. The first few years, it was just work, but when we’re here, we have fun, and over the years, coming to the same school together and going through the same struggles of West Ranch together, we’ve become a lot stronger. All the challenges with our kids, too.

O: Raising our kids together ‘cause we were both pregnant together—all of that—and now all of our kids are practically moved out of the house, and with that there’s a lot of this and that and diff things that go with raising kids. 

P: We definitely called each other crying many times, especially when they were little.

O: –and older!

P: You’re right.

What, if anything, do you do together outside of school?

P: We like to go to the Ivy and get massages. We love spa days. We’ll do lunch or breakfast—during the summer we always get together a couple times for lunch and breakfast. I mean we’ve gone on a cruise together, we’ve gone to Hawaii together a few times. 

O: Those are fun. Our husbands get along so that’s big too. 

P: And both our husbands are teachers, so there’s a lot in common.

Any funny stories to share about the two of you? 

P: Every year, Mrs O. calls me at the end of the year and is like, “OMG, I love my crew this year, they’re so good, it’s never—every single year she says this—going to be the same, I don’t know how I’m going to do this next year. Literally I could tell you the exact day she might call me this year and every single year she says that, and I’m like ‘they’re gonna be great, your next crew’s gonna be great.”

O: And then the next year I’m like “OMG they’re so good, I love them.” But it’s hard to—you build relationships with these kids, and when they leave, you’re like “oh my gosh, I can’t replace them,” and you can’t. You’re just getting a different group.

What is your favorite part about each other?

O: There’s many, I think I’m tearing up.

P: I know. Well, okay, so this is what I love about her. She is so honest with me all the time. I’ll call and I’ll be like, okay, talk me off a ledge, ‘cause I tend to be a little bit more emotional, but I think we’re that for each other. She’s honest and sometimes she tells me something I don’t want to hear, and she’ll say it. I one-thousand-percent appreciate that about her.

O: I think that goes both ways. I love most that I can call her anytime and she won’t judge me. She will be honest and reassure me. It’s just honesty. 

Anything else to add?

P: I love her so much. This was fun.

O: I know, actually, it was fun—I know we wish we could see each other more here, but we’re both so busy. I do try to come up during prep period and sit but…

P: And its work, of course. Some of it is organic and happens naturally, but we have to make that effort to keep the friendship going.

O: I know, I never thought about 23 years.

P: It’s been my whole teaching career.

O: And for mine, you were only not here for, like, a year and a half. I tell people all the time how lucky we are. 

P: Don’t you want to be a teacher and have a teacher bestie?

Mrs. Peters and Dr. Perez

When did you become friends and why?

Pt: We started in 2004? 2005?

Pr: We just did a lot of teacher things together, and there were only 30 of us, so we had a lot of the same things in common.

Did you guys open the school?

(In unison): Yes, we did.

Pt: There were 22 teachers. So yeah, we were really close and actually when you look at it, it’s a really unique thing here, because the teachers who have been here in the first few years—we’re all still super close. We eat lunch with history teachers and I don’t think it would be like that if we hadn’t had our boots on the ground together for 20 years.

Pr: Yeah, I agree with that. We’ve known each other for so long that we used to hang out outside of school and then we all started getting married and having kids and all of our kids are around the same age. Kids like to hang out. 

How has your first impression of each other changed?

Pt: I think we’ve both just grown up. We were a lot more carefree, like Dr. Perez said. We now both have kids and we used to both be like “Hey, can you meet me after school” and we’d go grab fried food and whatever, or an adult beverage after school on a Friday. It’s harder to do that. Now, the social things involved like were gonna go to this easter egg hunt or Chuck E. Cheese and things like that. But I think the connection has never changed. We’ve seen each other through relationships and struggles and triumphs and joys and all the cliches but it’s true because your bond is deeper with these experiences and I’m thinking of unpleasant experiences. But having a network of people you know and talk to about the same thing. And Covid was a big one.

Pr: Oh yeah, that’s true.

Pt: Because we used to do Tuesday afternoons from like four to five—just, like, a check-in on Zoom. Religiously, we would do that, because we couldn’t see each other and that also helped our relationship. And there was a group of four or five of us who would get together on Zoom, and that really helped to strengthen our relationship.

Pr: I always thought that she was cool and fun but that relationship is so much broader and deeper now. She’s still cool and fun but she’s all of these other things too.

Pt: Same. Exactly. 

How does working with your teacher bestie affect your work life? 

Pr: It makes it so much better. If we had nobody at work we could vent with and like spitball ideas: “Hey, what do you think about this? Would this work?”

Pt: Sharing kids. Asking “Hey, I see that you have that student, are you noticing this?” Good things and potential struggles for that student. And just having that person to go into who knows everything like, “Ugh, I have to vent about x-y-z.” And they know because they’re in it with you all the time. I know that you chaperoned a few of our choir trips.

Pr: I have chaperoned a bunch of choir trips. The funny part is later on, her choir kid ended up being my daughter’s preschool teacher and she was like “Oh my god, I remember when you chaperoned the trip down to San Diego and this this and this!” So I had a connection with this kid because of choir and then my actual kid was able to have a connection with the teacher as well, which I probably wouldn’t have had. 

Pt: Santa Clarita. It’s small. 

What, if anything, do you do together after school?

Pt: Dodgers games?

Pr: Oh yeah.

Pt: Angel City football club. 

Pr: We’ve traveled a little bit. Paso. 

Pt: We met that time didn’t we? Oh no, we didn’t meet in Greece.  We were there but you guys got your passports stolen. 

Pr: We were supposed to meet in Greece but our passports got stolen so we weren’t  able to meet. 

Pt: Mine didn’t get stolen.

Pr: Mine and Mrs. Mapp’s got stolen.

Pt: And like I said earlier, a lot of stuff is kid-focused now. So it’s kind of nice. We’ll go over to [Dr. Perez’s] house to swim and we’ll sit on the patio and talk while the kids splash around. 

What dynamic duo would you compare yourself to?

Pt: Lucy and Ethel.

Pr: Yeah, Lucy and Ethel.

Pt: Lucy and Ethel from I Love Lucy. 

Pr: Because we’re always up to something. Hijinks.

Pt: We laugh a lot so I think that’s a good comparison. Always plotting something.

Pr: Always something in the plans.

What is your favorite part about each other?

Pt: I just love how laid-back Cass is. I love how approachable she is. She’s nonjudgemental, always a good listener, and those are the most important things in a friend. 

Pr: I would say her compassion. Her humor is top-notch but her compassion is what makes her an amazing person.