Mr. Lovelady ‘Skips’ into his new future

Sofia Ruliffson

Every morning, Skip Lovelady wakes up and begins his day, hoping to arrive at school before sunrise. Once fully settled into the classroom, Lovelady sets up the lesson plan and patiently waits for his Honors Biomedical Sciences (Honors BioMed) class to energetically walk through the door. Once the students arrive, the class begins with their lesson plan, which consists of labs and hands-on experiments. This has been Lovelady’s routine for the past 25 years at Redwood. However, as his retirement approaches at the end of this school year, things will change for the Giants’ science department. 

Preparing for a lab day, seniors Sarah Steele and Emily Fee make sure their equipment is set up.

Currently, Lovelady teaches Living Earth, Chemistry and Honors BioMed at Redwood. Before his teaching career, Lovelady attended Dominican University and double majored in biology and chemistry. He started teaching at Redwood High School as a science teacher, later adding two sections of math by the end of the second week of school in 1996. 

On graduation of 1996, the integrated science teacher at Redwood, Rita Carmack, quit her position as the assigned BioMed teacher. On the same day, the administration turned to Lovelady to take over the BioMed program. Honors BioMed is an advanced class offered to juniors and seniors who applied the previous year. Lovelady notes that despite the opportunity, at first, he was hesitant to take on the program. 

“At the time, I refused to teach the course because my son had [just] been born and he needed my full attention. [However,] I was the only teacher [eligible] to teach the course and I knew I needed to step up and take on the task,” Lovelady said.

Stepping into his classroom for the first time, Skip Lovelady began his teaching career at Redwood in 1993. (Photo courtesy of Skip Lovelady)

That summer, two Redwood science teachers worked with Lovelady at his house to help create the Honors BioMed curriculum. The program turned out to be a huge success despite the challenges due to the advanced content and time constraints. 25 years later, the current course work is still very similar to the original curriculum. 

“I designed the course to be an upper-division college molecular biology course. That was my background from college and we took it from there. But, [throughout the 25 years] of teaching Honors BioMed, we’ve also had a few simple goals we wanted to achieve in the curriculum [to help the program grow],” Lovelady said. 

Lovelady has dedicated a significant amount of time outside of class toward developing the science department and also participating and leading several other extracurricular activities over the past two and a half decades. These programs are now crucial elements of Redwood’s current community. He was the science department chair for 12 years, wrote various course curriculums, led the peer tutoring program for 12 years and even coached the Varsity football team for 12 years. 

Lovelady has faced multiple obstacles throughout his time at Redwood, yet one of the toughest has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless, this did not stop him from filling his virtual classes with laughter and bright smiles. 

Junior Rowe Stodolnic was a student in two of Lovelady’s science classes and his SMART period during the 2020-2021 school year. Stoldonic noted the different tactics Lovelady used to keep his class engaged over Zoom. 

“Lovelady always taught from his classroom, never from home.  He was one of the [only] teachers [who did],” Stoldonic said. “Lovelady incorporated a lot [of engaging methods] to make Zoom more enjoyable and help relieve the [feeling] of being on Zoom all day.”

Concentrating on their lab work, Honors BioMed students carefully follow their procedures.

Lovelady is also loved by his Honors BioMed students. Over the past 27 years of being a full-time teacher, Lovelady has only missed 12 days. Senior Sarah Steele, recognizing his dedication to his teaching, reflects on the significant impact he has had on her academic career over the past two years.

“Throughout one’s [high school career], there are teachers that change your life forever, and Mr. Lovelady [is] one of those teachers. He’s one of those people that, from the first day you meet [him], makes a lasting impact [on you], and I will never forget him,” Steele said. 

While the Honors BioMed course is extremely difficult, Steele explained that Lovelady’s humor helped make the class more digestible. 

Paying close attention to their lab partners, Honors BioMed students patiently watch the next steps of their lab.

“What I love most about [Mr. Lovelady] is that he tells so many funny stories. He never fails to make me laugh [and is also] very passionate about his job, loves teaching kids, loves interacting with us and puts his heart and soul into Honors BioMed,” Steele said.

As the spring semester of the 2022 school year progresses, Lovelady will be missed dearly and will always be remembered for the influence he has had at Redwood. One of Lovelady’s colleagues and close friends in the science department, Mitch Cohen, recognizes the impact Lovelady has made over his time at Redwood

“I [will] miss Lovelady as a colleague and as a personal friend. His contribution to the whole Redwood community has been enormous, and the entire community owes him a giant thank you for all he’s done over the years, both in and out of the classroom,” Cohen said.

We wish you the best in your future endeavors Mr. Lovelady!

Posing in his new classroom, governor and Redwood alum Gavin Newsom and Skip Lovelady smile for the camera. (Photo courtesy of Skip Lovelady)