Dr West: Wilde Lake’s Respected Sage Retires

Feature StoryFormer Social Studies teacher Dr. Herb West retired two weeks before the start of this school year. As an admired staff member and a dear friend to teachers and students alike, Dr. West will be missed.

Dr. West taught Sociology and African American Studies. His classes were full of deep and thought provoking discussion that encouraged students to think critically. Wilde Lake graduate Jasmine Gonlin was greatly influenced by Dr. West’s Sociology class. “He really made you think about things that sometimes we ignore,” said Gonlin. For many students, Dr. West wasn’t just a teacher, he was a mentor. “He liked taking field trips, to get us out of the classroom and actually apply things that we learned,” said Gonlin.

Dr. West would hold mock debates in class for his students to really delve into controversial topics. “He made people in his class think about problems and controversies that sometimes are seen as ‘taboo’ or ‘not politically correct’ in American society,” said Gonlin. For example, she clearly remembers one debate her class had on the topic of euthanasia. Dr. West taught his classes in college format to prepare his students for the future. According to Gonlin, he really was concerned with his students receiving a first-rate education.

A firm advocate of learning from experience, Dr. West believed that learning didn’t stop at the school bell. During the summers, Dr. West would travel whenever he got the chance. He would go to different locations, gathering knowledge and information that he would in turn share with his classes. He was remarkably opinionated but never forced his beliefs on any of his students. His goal was to fuel students with knowledge and allow them to generate their own conclusions.

Social Studies teacher Mrs. Pennington worked closely Dr. West and is one of the teachers in charge of Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society. “Wilde Lake will miss his knowledge. He was the heart and soul of the Social Studies department,” said Mrs. Pennington.

There is no doubt that Dr. West will be treasured and remembered and his teachings never lost. New students will fill the halls of Wilde Lake and sit in class learning about the Civil Rights Movement, not knowing that the lesson plan was an old activity Dr. West had passed down.

Despite his retirement, students will continue to benefit from the positive impact Dr. West had on Wilde Lake.

“Dr. West will never be truly gone,” says Mr. Penn.