Happy Retirement, Mr. Chapman!


Left Image: 2000 Right Image: 2020

Chloe Wong, Opinion Editor

After teaching at Arcadia High School (AHS) since 1999, Mr. William “Bill” Chapman will retire this June. Originally a math and computer science teacher, today Mr. Chapman teaches computer science and AHS’ engineering courses, and also mentors Absolute Value 867, AHS’ official engineering team. As a teacher and an advisor, over the course of his career, Mr. Chapman has educated countless Arcadia students, always bringing passion and dedication to the classroom.

He considers his position to be one that’s helped him grow both personally and professionally: “Prior to AHS, I was just another teacher,” Mr. Chapman shared. “At Arcadia, they allowed me to try new things and start the Engineering Pathway.” Mr. Chapman teaches all three classes in the Pathway, which allows students to explore the specialized subject of engineering in a hands-on wayIntroduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, and Engineering Design and Development (EDD). 

As Mr. Chapman stated in a 2017 interview with AUSD, after AHS was recognized as a Project Lead The Way Distinguished School for the  Pathway, “students work with professional engineers through their capstone course, solving real-world engineering problems and developing and building designs…many [Engineering Pathway] students have continued their education in some of the finest STEM colleges in the country.” 

Over the years, Mr. Chapman has taken his students to a variety of engineering competitions, such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Invention Challenge. Mr. Chapman’s most memorable, meaningful teaching experience happened just a year ago, when Absolute Value 867 swept first, second, and third place at the Real World Design Challenge, a competition where students solve real-world issues through engineering. AHS was also named a Qualcomm Ambassador team for the Innovation Challengeanother moment of pride for Mr. Chapman.

Many of the students I have been lucky to have over the years have also been some of the finest academic students on campus,” Mr. Chapman shared. “Watching them work has been a real joy. The kids [are what I’ll miss most about AHS]…I have always loved teaching those who understand why they are in school.” 

Mr. Chapman’s students had similar words of praise for their teacher. 

“Mr. Chapman teaches by the idea of letting the students learn through doing and he tries to interfere as little as possible with the students’ work,” said senior Kevin Chang, the current Absolute Value 867 team captain. “He is always trying to ingrain engineering processes that are used in the real world to prepare us for the industry. With his vast knowledge of engineering, he always has an answer for our questions. He’s basically [the] human Wikipedia.” 

“I would say that Mr. Chapman has been an encouraging teacher,” stated senior Ethan Wong, who is the current Absolute Value 867 structural design lead. “He usually lets [his students] design and build without a lot of interference, which I think has made us all stronger, more independent problem-solvers. But he still gives us advice when needed, and keeps us from veering too far off course.” 

Senior Ruth Berkun, another Absolute Value 867 member, also complimented Mr. Chapman’s approach to teaching. Because of the freedom he’s allowed his students in the workshop, “it feels very gratifying whenever something works out,” she explained. “Mr. Chapman has always been very supportive, and I’ll miss having a teacher who believes in us so much.”

Berkun, Chang, and Wong all recalled their time in Mr. Chapman’s class fondly: for Berkun, some of her favorite memories include playing hot potato in the back of Mr. Chapman’s classroom (“sorry, Mr. Chapman”), and making an exoskeleton hand out of pneumatics.

Some of my favorite memories of Mr. Chapman would probably be the stories he tells us about his time in the Navy or when he taught me how to use some of the machine tools in the workshop,” Chang remembered. “There are lots of great memories from his class, especially from this year.” 

Both Wong and Chang named the countless hours spent working on the team’s competition robots, as well as Absolute Value 867’s bonding events, as some of their favorite memories from EDD this year. And as for the most important thing these students have learned from Mr. Chapman?

“He has taught me how to be more independent as someone who aspires to work in the engineering field, by providing various tools for us to utilize and then steering us back on track when we drift too far,” said Chang. “Mr. Chapman taught me how to think more creatively by his constant encouragement and opportunities to plan and create my own projects with teammates.”

“I’d say that Mr. Chapman’s taught me a lot of technical skills,” shared Wong. “I’ve used what I’ve learned from EDD in both team competitions and personal projects. In my opinion, knowing how to use tools and construct something is a vitally important skill.” 

“I’ve learned that in engineering, everyone has to start somewhere,” Berkun said. “A lack of knowledge and experience shouldn’t deter you from trying something; it should inspire you to learn.” 

After retiring, Mr. Chapman plans to spend time on his 3D modeling company, continue his interest in genealogy, and do some traveling. His contributions to the Engineering Pathway have left a lasting, profoundly positive impact on AHS, as exemplified by his students’ enthusiasm for his teaching and their warm words of goodbye. 

“We’ll miss you, Mr. Chapman!” both Wong and Berkun said. 

Chang also wished Mr. Chapman the best in his retirement.  “These past three years with Mr. Chapman have made his classes my favorite,” he stated. “I love chappy.”

Thank you for your years of dedication to the students of Arcadia, Mr. Chapman! AHS wishes you well in all your future endeavors.


Photos courtesy of AHS Yearbook