Clairbourn School’s Gloria Stahmer Retirement Tribute

It is time to give tribute to Clairbourn’s retired Assistant Head of School Gloria Stahmer, one of the most influential educators in the west San Gabriel Valley. Her impact spans nearly two generations, influencing students and shaping them into effective leaders for our community and nation. Even though she is retiring, her work will continue to benefit every student attending or enrolling at Clairbourn.

Mrs. Stahmer came to Clairbourn School in the early 1970s. Looking for a school for her children, she chose Clairbourn because of its fine reputation and its Christian Science heritage. As her children became more involved in school life, so did Mrs. Stahmer. Eventually, she was encouraged to take training in the Carden educational method, a system in use at Clairbourn during that time. Very quickly, it became clear to her supervisors that she was a natural teacher. Students loved her sincere empathy and youthful outlook. Parents found she was tireless in her classroom preparation, lesson planning, careful follow-through, and professional instruction.

Mrs. Stahmer’s students thrived under her care and tested among the highest in the school. The behavior, citizenship, and leadership of her students also set her apart from her peers, and she was soon sought-after by new and veteran parents alike. Colleagues naturally turned to Mrs. Stahmer for insights and ideas for their own classes. Her intrinsic desire for new knowledge led her to consistently seek and read the latest research on education. While she was well-above average in teaching all subjects, it was her ability to teach composition and the writing process that earned her the highest praise. Her teaching was so strong that the school chose her to teach a combined 5th-6th grade class with the highest achieving students in each section.

In time, Gloria moved into the Junior High classes (7th-9th grades) and Middle School classes (6th-8th grades), teaching English Literature, writing, and grammar. It was in these grades that the school administration found other faculty members naturally turned to Gloria for leadership. They observed her gentle spirit which successfully bridged professional disagreements. They noted how she naturally established an enduring sense of community which she maintained week-in and week-out for the benefit of all.

When the Assistant Head of School position became available, Mrs. Stahmer was a logical choice and took on that job in the summer of 1991. Already working closely with the administration, her selection as Assistant Head was met with great enthusiasm and confidence. It was clear to the whole community that the recently completed first phase of the school’s new Master Plan would be matched by an equally transformative regeneration of its curriculum.

And so it was that Gloria Stahmer became the chief architect of Clairbourn’s post-Carden curriculum from the mid-1980s to the end of this year. We will be using the elements of that educational program for many years to come. Current Assistant Head of School, Dr. Amy Patzlaff, studied under Mrs. Stahmer to ensure her visionary spirit of excellence will continue and be applied in new and exciting ways.

Mrs. Stahmer’s reputation in professional circles is highly regarded. She has served on many professional committees, earning high praise, both in public, private, and independent schools. Her work in encouraging young Clairbourn teachers and assisting them in clearing their provisional California Teacher Credentials has given our school a strong, professional teaching platform for many years to come.

Clairbourn School can never express enough appreciation for its many leaders and committed educators down through our nearly ninety years. But, soaring above them all, is the service and example of Gloria Stahmer, an educator for all time.

For more pictures, click here, and to convey your well-wishes to Mrs. Stahmer, please visit the school’s Facebook Retirement Tribute Page at

Robert W. Nafie, Ph. D.
Head of School

Clairbourn School, 8400 Huntington Drive, San Gabriel, (626) 286-3108 or visit



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