EVERETT – In 30 years of teaching, mostly in the alternative education program, Jeff Solomon played a number of roles.
He was like an uncle to many students.
He was a basketball partner.
And he was a UPS delivery man.
Well, not really. But he played one on television.
Solomon, 56, will retire this week from the Everett School District and from Sequoia High School, the district’s alternative school. He helped start the district’s alternative education program in 1974, which began in a portable building at the Lincoln Annex – a part of the Everett High School campus that is now home to athletic fields.
“I knew it would be challenging, but I didn’t realize it would be that difficult,” Solomon said. “I was determined to have all the students like school and want to be successful. I soon realized it would be a slow and patient process.”
His retirement plans include some fishing with his brother, catching up on his reading and taking up golf with his wife.
A standout athlete at Everett High, Solomon graduated in 1966 before heading to Everett Community College and Central Washington University to play baseball. Teaching in his home district was “a dream come true.”
While it took a while to adjust to an alternative high school program, Solomon said he soon realized he was destined to stay there.
“In a larger class, it’s harder to get to know the students,” he said. “And here, in the long run, it’s a great feeling when you see these kids succeed.”
Lynn Evans is an executive director in the district administration office who was an assistant principal at then-Everett Alternative High School for five years. She said Solomon had the heart needed to help alternative education students.
“I remember him being sort of an uncle to lots of students who needed somebody to talk to,” Evans said. “He was guiding them to come to school every day, stay in class, do their work, make good decisions. Those are the kinds of conversations he held with his students.”
Diane Kinch, who has taught at Sequoia for 28 years and once shared a classroom with Solomon, said she won’t forget watching him play a UPS delivery man on the short-lived TV remake of “The Fugitive.”
The CBS show was filmed in Everett about four years ago and used part of Sequoia’s campus for storage and a cafeteria.
“I just thought, if I do one thing before I leave this Earth I want to be an extra (on a TV show),” Solomon said.
“He’s very personable,” Kinch said. “He’s quite a character, and he keeps a sense of humor.”
That’s part of what’s helped him connect with at-risk students for so long, many say.
“He was always kind of inspiring and fun,” said student Jheremy Brown, 19. “He likes to laugh, and he was always really good about participating with us. He’s fairly active for being an old guy.”
Reporter Victor Balta: 425-339-3455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.