Beloved Venice Teachers Set To Retire This Year

Mame Fatou Thiaw and Zora Hollie

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Additional information was edited in on Thursday, June 15, 2023 at 8:14 pm. Graduation print issue version only features Patricia Austin, Simin Madjdi, and Lisa Thorne.

Five extraordinary people at Venice High School—Patricia Austin, Hera Horozyan, Kyung Hwa Kim, Simin Madjdi, and Lisa Thorne, —are retiring after decades of work.

Attendance counselor Patricia Austin will be retiring this year after eight years of work in the field. 

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Austin received her master’s degree at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, and her doctorate at “a small private college in Philadelphia”. Austin oversees attendance and enrollment at Venice, and has been working here for six years. She has also worked at Hart Middle School, Wilshire Elementary, and Westchester High School.

Interestingly, before working as an attendance counselor, Austin worked as a licensed marriage and family therapist for 10 years. 

“When I looked at becoming an attendance counselor, it really related to helping people because part of my job is helping students, to assess why students aren’t coming to school and provide resources for them, and assist them to ultimately graduate. That’s the goal,” she said. 

When reflecting on her career, Austin found that her proudest moment was gaining her doctorate degree. She found that the hardest part of being an attendance counselor was seeing students drop out. 

“It’s hard to see them give up, or not have family support. I know how it’s going to affect their future. It’s probably one of the saddest parts of my job,” Austin said. 

When discussing the lessons she’s learned throughout her career, she listed admirable qualities. 

“Patience, compassion, kindness. Being a good listener. I think I always had those things, but when you’re dealing with students and their families on a daily basis, you gain more of it,” she said. 

When it comes to advice for students, Austin mentioned the importance of gaining a higher education. 

“Graduate and go to college. Even if it’s a career that doesn’t require college, it’s such an incredible opportunity to grow into a young adult and have knowledge in all areas,” she said. 

For advice for younger staff in the education field, Austin recommended talking to those who came before you. 

“When I was new, I reached out to other attendance counselors because they had the wisdom and experience that I didn’t have at the time,” she said. 

In her retirement, Austin has thought up many ways to fill her time.

“I’ve made a list of many things that I’m going to do. I want to travel more, visit every museum in Los Angeles, go to all the beaches in Malibu, and catch up on reading. My list continues to grow,” she said.

While discussing what she will miss the most, Austin found that she will miss the connections she’s formed over the years.

“I will miss the students and the friendships that I’ve made with the staff,” she said. 


Teacher Assistant Hera Horozyan will be retiring this year after almost 12 years of teaching in the special education department at Venice High.

“I started in 2011 at Venice High so it’s almost been 12 best years of my years of teaching,” she said.

According to Horozyan, she has experienced a few amazing moments throughout the past few school years.

“During quarantine, I feel we did a great job even though it wasn’t easy, but coming together to make it work as a team and achieve our goal would be the best moment” she said.

For Horozyan, retirement has many plans in store. According to her, she plans to do more self-care for herself and her family.

“I plan to take care of my elderly mom and focus more on my health and have more time to myself and to take care of myself.” 

Teacher Assistant Kyung Hwa Kim will also be retiring this year after working at Venice High in the special education department and after working in LAUSD for 23 years.

In the years Kim has spent teaching at Venice High, he has accomplished a lot professionally.

“Being a teacher assistant I tried my best to help the students, especially with math and I think I succeeded with that,” she said. “One student I can say got an A in a subject he ever knew he was going to pass.” 

Planning for retirement is crucial for teachers to ensure financial stability and the ability to pursue interests and hobbies, and according to Kim, she is thinking about traveling more in her time out.

“I want to take a break and focus more on myself I even go back to Korea to visit my hometown” said Kim.


Spanish teacher Simin Madjdi will be retiring this year after almost 30 years of work. 

Originally from Iran, Madjdi gained a bachelor’s degree in teaching at Cal State Los Angeles, and a master’s in conflict resolution and negotiation at Cal State Dominguez Hills. 

Madjdi has been working as a teacher since 1994, but only has been teaching at Venice for two years. Before coming here, she taught at Crenshaw High School for 20 years. 

“My parents were teachers, and my dad was a high school principal. I never thought about being a teacher, but then I left my country, and went to Spain and learned Spanish, and I came here and got a Spanish degree,” she said. 

When reflecting back on her career, Madjdi found the proudest moments to be seeing her students succeed. She found the hardest part to be not having enough support. 

A lesson that she’s learned throughout her career is to not judge her students, because they may be going through a lot. This motivated her advice for younger teachers.

“Be more compassionate,” Madjdi said. 

Madjdi also has advice for students. 

“Just stay positive, and keep going. I know it’s hard, but keep going,” she said. 

Like many teachers, when Madjdi leaves she will miss the connections she has made with her students. In her retirement, Madjdi hopes to start a new career. 

“I will probably do personal coaching,” she said. 

Math and art teacher Lisa Thorne will be retiring this year after 32 years of work. 

Thorne grew up in Houston, Texas and went to UCLA. In addition to her six years at Venice, she has also taught at Hamilton High School, Los Angeles High School, Fillmore High School, and Pasadena High School. 

When deciding to become a teacher, Thorne recalls the impact teachers had on her in her younger life. 

“The people I most respected were teachers. They were the people who were calm and there for me and I wanted to be like them,” she said. 

Throughout her career, Thorne has seen shifts in how kids interact with each other. 

“Generally, kids are nicer to each other than they used to be. I’m really pleased at how easy it is for kids to be themselves,” she said. 

Thorne has also seen changes in the challenges teachers face. Unsurprisingly, when discussing the hardest part of her job, she mentioned the increase of cellphone use in classrooms. 

“I just can’t compete,” she said. 

When reflecting further on her career, Thorne discovered that she could narrow down the lessons she has learned three significant things– to not take yourself too seriously, to make sure to pay attention to the kids who are doing the right thing, and to accept that there is not enough time. 

Taking from other lessons she’s learned, Thorne gave practical advice to younger teachers. 

“Don’t take on too many preps (classes teachers have to prepare for) and make phone calls home to parents early in the semester,” she said. 

Thorne also has nuggets of wisdom for students. 

“Pursue lots of interests, and let yourself learn things you’re not immediately good at,” Thorne said. 

Throughout her career, Thorne has many achievements to be proud of. For one, she cultivated the Digital Imaging class here at Venice, and is particularly proud of the strong animation section. In fact, in her retirement, Thorne will be participating in Santa Monica College’s 3D Animation Production Program, in the hopes of eventually becoming an animator. 

Additionally, like many educators, Thorne is proud of the lasting impact she has had on her students.

“I see students after they graduate and they’re glad to see me,” she said.