Tammy Damon: So What’s Your Story?

When I moved to San Francisco in 1976 with an MA in Education through the Teacher Corps and 5 years experience, the school district was laying off teachers with less than 10 years experience. After two years of substitute teaching, I reluctantly gave up my commitment to public schools and on a tip from a friend, went for an interview at Synergy, then a small, progressive school looking to expand. By the end of the interview process, followed by an all day field trip to the Oakland Zoo, I knew Synergy would be the perfect place for me.

Synergy co-founder, Katherine Czesak, was starting graduate school and would be working half time so I was offered a half time position. I didn’t hesitate for a second to become a part of this school where learning was exciting as well as fun and clearly happened everywhere — in the tiny building, on the streets, at the beach, in museums, and the great outdoors for day trips, camping and in the snow. This was my kind of place and I was interested and willing to do anything, from taking on the responsibility for the finances, which was one part of Katherine’s administrative job packet, doing her share of lunch duty which involved a hike up the hill to Douglass Park, to raising money by working street fairs and working the roulette wheel at our casino night. It was non-stop learning and I was thriving.

During my first 10 years, many inspired teachers, including the three co-founders, enriched Synergy before moving on to other careers. I was often asked when I would leave. Finally I made it clear — teaching at Synergy would be my career, a place to grow, challenge and nurture myself and the vision Russ, Katherine and Jill had.

Synergy has been everything I dreamed of and more. I realized right away that the cooperative structure created an environment that brought out the best in everyone, promoting dedication, inspiration, creativity and responsibility to each other, our students and families. While I was learning how to challenge and encourage my students, Synergy was encouraging me to grow and challenge myself in every arena.

After 35 wonderful years, I am now retired but not gone. I am on the Board and a number of committees, and enjoy going to a variety of Synergy events and seeing students, staff and parents. I will always support Synergy with donations to the Annual Fund and more.

Tammy Damon, Synergy Board Trustee, former administrator & teacher

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