Farewell Frerking!


Gabriel Davidson, Editor

A teacher and counselor for more than three decades, with two years of serving Sahuaro under his belt, Mr. Frerking is flipping the page to a new chapter in his life. Retiring along with his wife, also an educator, Frerking plans to do more traveling as well as photography. They plan to go to Maine this Summer, the only state he’s not yet visited. He owns a couple of Canon cameras – one digital, one mirrorless, the other more high-end.

Frerking said he enjoyed working here, especially with seniors, helping get them back on track when they’re lagging behind. When the realization dawns on some seniors that they’ll make it to graduation, Frerking recounted, “Sometimes they’ll stand up and shake your hand, and that’s nice when that happens.” He takes pride in watching the students he worked with walk across the stage. “I’ve taught long enough now that some former students are successful doctors and lawyers and doing well.”

Besides working at Sahuaro, Frerking had been an educator in Tennessee, Alaska, and — wait for it — Tanzania, in the city of Dar es Salaam, from which he taught for two years including during the time the U.S. embassy was bombed. Frerking, who taught in Alaska before, wanted a change in weather, going to an international school’s job fair with participating schools from over 130 countries. Frerking chose Tanzania and went to teach at a school with an International Baccalaureate program where he educated students from all over the world. While in Africa, he honed his photography, went on safaris, saw a wildebeest migration, and took a lot of photos of a lot of animals (he chose the best and I’ve attached them here!). Frerking’s tenure was cut short as he chose to return to the U.S. when learning his father was ill.

Now, you may have thought to yourself, “Pause. Did you say Frerking was in Alaska?” I did. He taught in Utqiagvik, at the time ‘Barrow’, situated in the northernmost part of the state where the closest paved roads were just a hop, skip, and 500 miles away. Just like Tanzania, he and his wife traveled to a job fair, this time right after being married, and chose to work together at the same school in The Last Frontier. Polar bears were a very real threat, he recounted, as they would walk up to campus, and when field trips were hosted, students had to bring hunting rifles to fend them off. They’d also hunt caribou! Everything, including the school, rested on stilts due to permafrost. Some students had never seen a tree, and some never even knew how to use a pool (which Frerking had lifeguarded for). All this and we haven’t even mentioned the months of all-day darkness.

Before going into education, Frerking served in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Spain for three years while working on satellite communications at a land-based southern Spanish electronics school from 1983-89. After, Frerking returned to the U.S. and wrapped up his college bachelor’s at the University of Arizona before taking his master’s at Northern Arizona University. He synced careers up with his wife, who was already teaching, when he returned.

Did you know Frerking wasn’t born in Arizona? He moved here during his junior year of high school, arriving from blizzard-y Minnesota, and before counseling here, he was in Tennessee.

Frerking, who has had a long-lived career in education, likens its development to more of a cycle. Speaking from experience, Frerking said, “There’ll be brand new stuff with a new name, but lots of things are similar.”

With all that said, Mr. Frerking: As much as we’ll miss you, we won’t miss trying to pronounce your last name! Bon voyage and safe travels!