The Legend: Jean Ann Streiff

Marley Shovlin '15, Staff Writer

Jean Ann Streiff, although many know her as “the” Mrs. Streiff, was an English teacher that retired from Oakland Catholic just this past year. To those students who have never sat in her classroom, anxiously awaiting the announcement of a Streiff in-class paper or have never experienced her sarcastic sense of humor, Mrs. Streiff’s retirement is belittled to a minuscule occurrence. To those students who were blessed with her teaching methods and inspired by her drive for educating, the unfamiliar absence of Mrs. Streiff in Oakland Catholic’s hallways seems impossible to believe.

Surprisingly enough, Mrs. Streiff did not have a teaching degree, graduating with a Bachelors from Duquesne University in Mathematics and English. One of her first jobs was as a clerk for U.S. Steel in their Research and Development Department, where she was not intellectually challenged and found herself unsatisfied.  Being the wife of a military officer, her limited jobs options lead her to become a clerk in the military base library while her husband was stationed in Turkey, where she was exposed to many books and many people who were stationed nearby.  It was there, through her colleagues and passion for literature, that she realized her potential to teach, and applied to two school districts with the intention of becoming a substitute teacher. She was hired for a long-term substitute teaching position for Math and English at Edmonds High School, and it was here that her desire for teaching exploded. She was then hired as a full-time teacher for the 1969-1970 school year, her recollections include: “I knew it was what I was meant to do. I created lessons, researched different things I could teach and loved my students.” After receiving the official certification for teaching, Mrs. Streiff applied for a job at Sacred Heart High School teaching math, drama, and public speaking, and the rest is history.

Mrs. Streiff began her legacy on the first day that the doors of Oakland Catholic opened. Sacred Heart High School and St. Paul’s Cathedral High School, two catholic schools established for about 75 years that were no longer financially stable enough to remain separate, merged to form Oakland Catholic in 1989. She remembers the difficult times that came with the unification of Oakland Catholic. Dealing with two curriculums, two sets of faculty, two student bodies and many different traditions, finding a sense of belonging for everyone posed a challenge. She recalls that “teachers really helped to make the school a cohesive whole by treating the students, no matter where they began their education, with respect and fairness.” Through the help of the teachers and dedication of Student Council, Oakland Catholic became the institution it is today. It goes without saying that Mrs. Streiff has been leaving her infinite mark as a monumental figure and teacher since OC’s birth.

After teaching for 43 years, Mrs. Streiff has reached the point of retirement. She makes jokes of being too old to remember things, but as everyone laughs along with her, it is an unanimous thought that she will never lose her admirable knowledge in the eyes of OC. She expresses joy of now having more time to spend with family and friends, especially her grandkids and who have their many extracurricular activities. When asked about her views of OC, she replied, “I will always love Oakland Catholic and what I accomplished there.  I will always love the students I have taught — every one of them — but it was time to readjust my focus and face new challenges with my life.”  From teaching the necessities for a perfect essay to transforming students into scholars, Mrs. Streiff is an OC legend. Thank you for your honesty, brilliance, and most importantly, love. We are blessed to have been considered your coworkers and students, and your legacy will live on forever.