Sunday, February 26, 2012


By Barbara Jones Staff Writer, LA  Daily News |

Marylin Short shows the 1962 Valley News clipping of a story about her and her class watching coverage of the day John Glenn rocketed into space aboard the Mercury capsule Friendship 7. Short has worked in Los Angeles Unified for 57 years, and just recently retired from Castlebay Lane Elementary where she was one of the original teachers. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

02/24/2012 10:06:27 PM PST  :: Dwight Eisenhower was president and James Dean was a rebellious screen idol when Marylin Short started her teaching job with Los Angeles Unified.

Newly married and newly graduated from Los Angeles State College, Short was assigned to teach a classroom of third-graders at Coldwater Canyon Elementary in North Hollywood in January 1955.

As she stood in front of a class of girls and boys attired in cotton dresses and plaid button-down shirts, she had no idea she was about to embark on a career that would span nearly six decades.

"There is nothing as wonderful as teaching," said Short, who retired earlier this month after 57 years with the school district. "It's so rewarding and just so much fun to do."

Short taught seven years at Coldwater and three years at Beckford Elementary in Chatsworth and was among the first group of teachers at Castlebay Lane Elementary when it opened in the fledgling suburb of Porter Ranch.

There, she helped calm students in the aftermath of the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake and quell anger over forced busing later in the decade.

"It was very emotional," recalled Short, 78, in an interview at her Northridge home. "Parents were screaming and yelling, and we were trying to figure out what to do."

Former students recall Short as a maternal figure, one who exuded warmth in the classroom and taught them needlepoint along with English, math and social studies.

"My older sister had Mrs. Short and would tell me about her," said Wendy Abrams, who was in Short's fifth-grade class in the 1970s. "I couldn't wait to have her. She's one of the teachers in life I'll always remember.

"Her nature was so caring. It was like having your mom in the classroom."

Short retired from teaching in 1993, but remained at Castlebay for 19 more years, working in the office and pulling an occasional shift in the classroom. Her former co-workers at Castlebay will celebrate her 41-year tenure at the school during a party on Sunday.

"Marylin has been a cherished institution here at Castlebay -- loved by faculty, staff, students, and parents," said third-grade teacher Sandy Dorfman. "I, along my colleagues, will miss all her wonderful stories and reminiscing.

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