Jonah Armstrong

Mr. Heiter watching the game while coaching basketball in January.

The legendary Mr. Heiter retires a beloved teacher and coach

Mr. Heiter has been a part of Taft High since 1978 when he started coaching basketball, and he has taught at Taft High for 38 years. Since then, he has coached track, cross country, softball, baseball, soccer, and taught Chemistry, Biology, Anatomy, AP chemistry, Integrated Science, P.E., Health, and Geography. He has also been the head of Taft High’s science department and the summer school principal. He is beloved by many students and is known for his extremely long tests. He says that he will miss, “the interactions with fellow teachers and will definitely miss teaching Chemistry and Anatomy and all the laughs we had together during class.” One of his former students, Yajaria Sanchez said, “Heiter is a legend and no one will ever forget his name. ‘Hoops’ Heiter is the best man alive.”

He has impacted the lives of so many of his students. The moments that impacted his career and led him to feel like a part of Taft High the most were becoming head of the science department and summer school principal. He also mentioned how winning league in basketball a couple times and going to valley finals were great experiences for him. He has done so much for his students. Heiter commented, “I think always being in my class, available to help, was important.” He was the teacher that showed up to school at 7:00 a.m. every day and was in his classroom all day, including lunch, which allowed students to come by for help. As a coach, he worked out with his players and opened up the gym during the summer so that athletes could come and develop to their full potential.

To his fellow teachers, he was the one to go to for any materials and equipment. He will definitely be missed, but as for his retirement he says, “Retirement will be a mixed blessing; I will no longer have any of the relationships that I have appreciated so much, from friendships to students who I have grown close to. But, I also will have the freedom to choose how I want to spend the rest of my life.” The moments that he says he will always remember are, “These past two years in track have been pretty memorable with not only the valley championships, but also the interactions with the members of the team. It has been special.”

Senior track athlete Caitlin Bailey commented,“Heiter has served as an inspiration as well as a mentor to me for four years. He’s made me into the athlete as well as the scholar I am today, and I am so grateful to have been coached and taught by such a legend.” Many of Heiter’s past and current students are sad to see him leave, but he says,“I will try to live as close to as many of my kids and grandkids as I can and try to become an integral part of their life again, as I once was before we all got separated.” Being a teacher at Taft High has, “…inspired him to be the best,” he can be as a person, “Because I believe the better I can be, the better role model I am, and perhaps it will have a positive influence on someone at some point, and that is what a teacher should try to accomplish in their life.

This will be end for Mr. Heiter’s career, but he says, “I have worked long enough; I have set out each day to strive to make everyone else’s day better and now I have to see what I can do each day to make my life, and make myself better.” He will miss Taft Union High School and stated, “I have always considered Taft High the greatest school I ever experienced personally, which is why I never left.” He enjoyed working at Taft High and said, “A school is what each of us makes it, and if each person sets out every day to make their little niche in the school as enriching as they can, then, they will have a wonderful day, and will provide a great environment for all who they come in contact with each day.” This was the kind of mindset that he had every single school day. He is an amazing teacher and he was a brilliant mentor.

Working at Taft High has impacted his life drastically. Heiter said, “I went from very young to not so young anymore; I met my wife at TUHS, and because of her I have three great kids and six beautiful grandkids. My oldest son attended TUHS all four years and my youngest attended TUHS his junior year, so he could take chemistry from his old dad. My boys got to see what their dad did every day when he went off to work. TUHS truly has been my home away from home, and I have not regretted it at all that this is where I have spent my working life.” Taft High meant so much to him and he is, “sad to see so many bright young teachers and coaches leaving.” He hopes the best for everyone who is staying or leaving. He also hopes, “that the students at Taft High will continue to get the education they deserve and have all the great opportunities that students before them have been provided.” The legend of Taft High is leaving and truly will be missed, but will never be forgotten.

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