“When I said I wasn’t going to run again, the reaction I got from most people was surprise,” Hartman said. “There was this sense of shock and disbelief. I even had people come up to me who asked, ‘Who am I supposed to vote for now? I always vote for you.’ That was incredibly humbling, but it just feels like the right time to step down.”
Hartman gave retirement from the board a lot of thought, but believes that after two decades on the board, it’s time to bring in new people with fresh ideas. When Hartman joined the district, Liberty was the only comprehensive high school in the district. During her tenure, she saw the conception, construction and opening of Freedom and Heritage high schools and the institution of many changes in the educational plan to best serve the thousands of students in the district.
When Hartman ran for her seat in 1991, she wasn’t sure she had a chance. An educator with the Brentwood Union Elementary School District, she earned the endorsement of East County education icon Bill Bristow, which seemed to turn a lot of heads.
“I remember when Barbara Ghiselli and Susan Hopkins, who were getting ready to leave the board, asked me to think about running. I thought they were nuts,” Hartman recalled. “But I gave it some thought. I had a daughter who was a freshman at Liberty and three other daughters who would eventually go there as well, so I thought I’d go for it. When I got elected, I thought, ‘OK, now what? How am I going to do this?’”
But as her first term came to a close, Hartman realized she had some unfinished business, so she ran for re-election. “The next thing I knew, 20 years had gone by. All of my daughters had graduated from Liberty – graduated from college, even. The district is in a good place. There will always be challenges, but I have confidence in the board and the leadership of the administration to keep moving the district forward.”
Hartman will keep her day job as a third-grade teacher at Marsh Creek Elementary, insisting that full retirement is still a few years away.
Hartman received a degree in elementary education from the University of Southern California. As a board member for the high school district, she would assess her young students starting their academic careers and consider what policies should be in place for when they reached high school: “I would look at them and I would think about their future. What are they going to need when they get to high school? I saw all these possibilities in their little faces. I still do.”
The thing Hartman will miss the most about the board is graduation season, when she hands diplomas to many of her former students. A Brentwood resident since 1979, Hartman plans to use her extra free time to finish projects at home and do more gardening and reading.
Last week, Hartman was celebrated at a special reception held prior to the regularly scheduled board meeting. Dozens of friends and colleagues attended the event to pay tribute to her legacy in the district.
“It was amazing to see so many people come out to wish me well,” Hartman said. “To know that I’ve made a difference in the lives of so many people, it’s an incredible feeling. It’s been a great ride.”