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Ceramics teacher retires after 20 years at PRHS

After 20 years of teaching art and ceramics, Josh Gwiazda is retiring, but will not be forgotten for what he has done for the school. From artwork around campus, to fighting for better bullying policy, supervising equity and chess club, and starting billiards club, Gwiazda has made an  impact that will not be forgotten.

When Gwiazda started working at PRHS in 2004 , after leaving his job as a skydiving instructor, he taught general, advanced, studio, and AP art classes. After eight years in these positions, he was asked to teach Ceramics, where he would stay for the following 12 years.

Gwaizda committed himself to sparking student extracurricular involvement, and connecting with students through the games. Gwiazda advised Chess Club for 15 years and started Billiards Club in 2018.

Saul Bautista,12

“I think chess is a good strategic game which exercises the mind
and kids love it, so being the club adviser I was able to share that with other people and organize countywide chess tournaments,” Gwiazda said. He also supervises the Equity club. “Equity club is a passion of mine because of course I’m married to a man, and I feel that all kids deserve a safe place to be at school and have the right to express themselves freely,” Gwiazda said.

Gwiazda joined a team of teachers in fall 2022 to help students organize the ground-breaking Coming Out Against Hate event, in which hundreds of students, parents, and community members learned of mistreatment and threats experienced by LGBTQ+ students.

Gwaizda experienced a challenging time in his career behind the microphone at the school board. “At one point they were trying to strip our bullying policies down . . . so speaking in front of a school board that’s not friendly is a huge challenge.”
Saul Bautista (12) describes Ceramics class as a relaxed, fun working atmosphere, “(Gwiazda) is really goofy. By the second day everybody is comfortable and it’s just a fun environment,” he said. Bautista, with his clay coated pants, spends his tutorial, nutrition, and any other school time he can find in the Ceramics room. Bautista is majoring in Business Administration in college, but plans on taking some Ceramics classes after high school.

Gwiazda explains that some of his proudest moments as a teacher was seeing his talented and passionate students display and sell their ceramics in the art studios in downtown Paso Robles. He is glad to leave some artwork on campus such as the International Sign in the quad, built in his classroom. “We made all the compass tiles . . . it points to all the countries that our international students come from each year to give them a feeling of belonging here,” said Gwiazda. Over his 20 years of teaching he explains the hardships that come along with the job. He explained becoming a beginning teacher three times: “first learning how to teach art, being a brand new first year teacher, second learning how to teach ceramics, and third learning how to be an online teacher distance learning with COVID.” He was thrown into the kiln when he was told he had to teach ceramics and learn on the job.

Looking into the future, Gwaizda has some plans for his retirement: “Number one, I can throw out my alarm clock. Number two, I get to spend more time with my family and my dogs. Number three, I want to learn to be a better gardener and cook . . . and maybe a little bit of travel.” He plans on pursuing a new career as a pool table mechanic. “Why would anybody want to do pool tables? It’s hard work, but it brings joy and happiness into this world,” Gwaizda said.

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About the Contributor
Brian Arndt
Brian Arndt, Health Editor

Brian Arndt is a sophomore in his first year in journalism, currently working as the Health Editor. He runs varsity Cross Country and track and has aspirations to run in college. He hopes to grow his writing and photography skills in Crimson Newsmagazine.

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