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Elderly teacher regularly tutors troubled youths at school named after her

Johanna Boss going strong at 93

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

STOCKTON, California - A Dutch American woman continues to teach some of California’s most troubled youths as a volunteer 27 years after her mandatory retirement at age 67. A very appreciative California Youth Authority in 1997 named the high school facility at the O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility after The Hague-born Johanna Boss. She joined the boys’ school in 1966 as one of only two female teachers.

The 93-year old volunteer who tutors algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and calculus, claims that she receives her pay when the student says, “Oh, now I get it.” A mother of five, she earned her credentials after graduating from the California State University and then joined the faculty at Deuel Vocational Institute where she taught difficult and dangerous young offenders. Boss, who looks and sounds 25 years younger than her age, never “had any trouble, never” with her otherwise troublesome students.

Also among her peers, Boss has earned great respect. They never heard her say to a kid, “You can’t learn.” Her approach rather is, “we’ll figure out how to do this together,” which created a team approach, involving a whole class. In the 35 years at the facility, Boss, who also is known as a enthusiastic world traveler, never missed a graduation. 

Boss’ sons Christian and Bastian, both retired teachers, substitute at the high school named after their mother. Johanna Boss spends three day a week at ‘her’ school but no longer drives herself the 16 miles from her Central California hometown of Ripon to Stockton. Boss, a widow, immigrated after World War II with her husband Christian and their four sons. Her daughter was born in the U.S.A., now 50 years ago.