Michael Wing leaves teaching position after tumor diagnosis


Kyra Featherstone

MaryBuchanan, the new adviser for Wing’s third period Living Earth class, works with students on a disease project.

AWHS Chemistry and Living Earth teacher Michael (Doc) Wing has been diagnosed with a tumor in his neck, and will be taking the rest of the 2021-2022 school year off to focus on his health. As a result, AWHS principal LaSandra White now searches for advisors for Wing’s class periods.   

White initiated the difficult search for a new teacher for Wing’s third, fifth, and seventh period Living Earth classes after coming back from Ski Week. However, finding a substitute teacher for his sixth period Chemistry class proved to be less complicated and resulted in combining his Chemistry class with Mary Buchanan’s. 

“[Wing] teaches four classes, and the Chemistry class was very easy to cover because it just happened to be the same period as another Chemistry class…so we were able to just combine them,” White said.

White put out the job advertisement for teaching Living Earth on Edjoin, a website for teachers to find job opportunities, where she reached out to those she knew in the teaching community, and other retired teachers. Alyssa Sandner, who has been covering Wing’s third period Biology Class, was the only available TUHSD teacher for that period.

Mary Buchanan checks on project groups that Wing created for his third, fifth and seventh period Living Earth classes. He assigned the project prior to his announcement that he would go on medical leave due to a tumor in his neck. (Kyra Featherstone)

Sandner’s teaching availability was temporary, resulting in her leave after spring break. Coming back from break on Mon. 4/11 Mary Buchanan stepped in and is now covering 3rd period living earth.   

As for fifth and seventh period, AWHS science teachers Alan Nealley and Barton Clark stepped up to cover the classes for the remaining three months of the school year. Nealley had voiced his availability to take over the classes from the start, but White wanted to make sure all classes could be covered before replacing these periods with current AWHS staff.

“Mr. Nealley had always been willing to take seventh, but I wasn’t willing to say okay seventh is covered but not the others, I wanted to get all of those classes covered at the same time,” White said. 

Wing has worked at AWHS for over 20 years and although he is disappointed he cannot finish the school year, he is hopeful to return for the 2022-2023 school year. 

“I miss everyone at AWHS. I’m grounded. I can’t drive, can’t ride my bicycle, can’t run, can’t sail, and have to avoid large groups. When I’m not at medical appointments I hang around the house, read some, putter around, and nap,” Wing said.

As the school has searched for a replacement, Wing acknowledges the complex legal requirements for replacing a teacher mid-year.  

“I think everyone is surprised and frustrated that it has taken this long to find my replacement. The district is legally required to make it happen though. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 and the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 both mandate a ‘highly qualified teacher in every classroom’,” Wing said.

Although Wing will no longer teach this school year at AWHS, it is anticipated that well-qualified replacement teachers will be found to lead his classes.