Retiring Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Gary Schiffman leaves a legacy of support and joy



After 17 years, Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Gary Schiffman will retire. Shiffman has left a legacy of support and joy to those around him.

A cherished legacy will be left behind when the social studies department undergoes a major change this year.

After 17 years, Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Gary Schiffman will retire. Beyond the high school, Schiffman plans on continuing his project of spreading the Four Question Teaching Method to history. During his time at the high school, Schiffman left a footprint of treasured memories for those around him.

Schiffman said he takes pride in the staff he hired during his years.

“One of the important parts of this position is hiring. So when people leave or the department grows, I’m responsible for finding new people to come and teach here,” Shiffman said. “I’m proud of having hired some remarkably talented and wonderful people.”

Social studies teacher Marcie Miller first met Schiffman when he came to the high school in 2006. Miller said that Shiffman’s leadership helped unify everyone in the department.

“We are all very different people,” Miller said. “We are all very close and loyal to each other, and that is definitely because of the leadership that he has set for us.”

Social studies teacher Sam Dickerman said on top of bringing his method of teaching history, Shiffman offered immense support through his knowledge and sympathy.

“He’s so generous and compassionate. He doesn’t try to force anybody to be any particular way. He shares his wisdom as best he can. But, he’s such a good listener and able to offer support without being intrusive,” Dickerman said.

Shiffman said leaving the high school will be a mixture of positive and negative emotions for him.

“It alternates between the exhilaration of getting out and being free, the fear of being free and, then, the sadness about all the people,” Schiffman said. “I’m going to have to work to see the people I miss.”

Miller said Shiffman helped her learn a different manner of teaching and improve her lessons through reflection.

“I’ve learned so much from him. I’ve learned that it’s not always about the end, it’s about the process. Student-learning is not about what their scores or their grades are but about teaching [students] how to think,” Miller said. “He would watch our lessons and we would reflect with him. He wanted you to defend why you chose to do something the way that you chose to do it.”

Social studies teacher Lizzy Buhl said Schiffman will leave a lasting impact on how she approaches teaching.

“In terms of my career, he will always be the voice in my head when I’m lesson planning or when I’m dealing with students. It will always be Dr. Schiffman who I think of as giving me guidance and helping me figure out what to do at any given moment,” Buhl said.

Miller said of Schiffman’s many different characteristics, she will miss his personality.

“I’ll miss the little things: him wheeling his bike in every morning, his fashion (he is a very fashionable man) and he always makes some really funny jokes. I’ll just miss his personality. He has an infectious personality in his office that makes everybody happy,” Miller said.

Buhl said she will cherish memories of the positivity and humor Schiffman carried throughout his time at BHS.

“I’ll always remember Dr. Schiffman loves to laugh, and he’s always up for a good joke,” Buhl said. “[For our Halloween costumes] this past year he was the president and we were secret service, and he rode around on the back of Mr. Dickerman’s scooter. He’s just so [ready] to laugh and he’s quick witted; he’s always ready with a joke. Even if your day is going horribly, Dr. Schiffman can make you laugh.”

Dickerman said Schiffman supported him in developing an appreciation of the intricacies of history.

“He’s the most important non-family adult in my life. He taught me how to think,” Dickerman said. “I worked with computers before I started teaching, [so] I was kind of in the tech world. I was knowledgeable about that stuff, but I wasn’t an intellectual. I didn’t know the huge important ways of seeing the world through all these different lenses, [but Dr. Schiffman] helped me become someone who could understand history.”