Former Berkeley High School teacher Frank Schooley died at age 83 Aug. 10 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, as first reported by Berkeleyside.
Having been a priest at Clerics of Saint Viator and a doctoral history student at UC Berkeley, Schooley worked as a researcher at RCM Capital Management before finding his true calling at Berkeley High School. There, he developed a mentorship program for students in the Computer Academy and coordinated the Berkeley Experiential Senior Transition, or BEST, Program.
“He reached out and found mentors who could work with these students in the Computer Academy and were willing to do it,” Claire Schooley, Schooley’s wife, said. “He really laid the groundwork for the entire mentoring program.”
Schooley’s mentorship program paired students in their junior and senior year with mentors from campus, the city of Berkeley and the local business community. These mentors would meet with students once a month and walk them through how to apply for college, or how to ace their next interview, according to Claire.
During his time at Berkeley High School, Schooley also earned the nickname the “Name Man” for his ability to immediately memorize all of his students’ names and never forget them, according to Schooley’s wife. Students would wave hello to him whether that be in the hallways or on the street.
“I still have people that say to me, in their 40s, and ask if I’m related to Frank Schooley,” Claire said. “The first thing they say to me is that ‘he remembered my name.’ ”
Aside from working with students in the Computer Academy or the BEST Program, Schooley also served as a substitute teacher. His favorite subject to substitute for was dance, Schooley’s wife said.
Schooley’s former student, who asked to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns, emphasized how much Schooley cared for his students.
“As a new immigrant from Viet Nam, he regularly checked in with me to make sure that I fitted in and on track to do well in school,” the former student said in an email. “I greatly appreciated Mr. Schooley going above and beyond to match me with a mentor, internship, scholarships, and even giving me books written by Vietnamese American author.”
Recalling his friendship with the former teacher, Steve Weissman, a lecturer at the Goldman School of Public Policy and Schooley’s neighbor, said Schooley was a “deeply intellectual” person.
Weissman recalled how during neighborly Christmas gift exchanges, Schooley would always buy him a very “intellectually challenging book,” which usually entailed dense translations.
“He always laughed really easily. I think he really was quite loyal to his friends,” Weissman said. “Those were probably the qualities that I think he was really the most proud of.”