After 38 years teaching science, beloved GDS high school biology teacher Bill George, referred to as “Bio Bill” by students, retired at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.
“I reached a cornerstone in age. I turned 70, and I thought [COVID-19] is the message: I need to retire now at this moment,” George said back in the spring. “I think I certainly could have continued, but I was concerned about what may happen with COVID, and I honestly really can’t teach in a mask.”
Since 1983, George witnessed GDS transform, transitioning from a high school in a collection of row houses on MacArthur Boulevard, with squirrels and raccoons running through the ceiling, to to a cleaner unified campus on Davenport Street. Yet throughout the school’s evolution, George felt accepted in the GDS community.
“For the first time in my life, I felt safe,” George said. “GDS allowed, accepted, and embraced the LGBTQ community back in ’87, which is one of the key reasons why I wanted to teach and stay at GDS.”
George believes one continues teaching due to one’s close bonds with students. He fondly recalls spending time reviewing material on the weekends with students for AP Biology exams and the connections he made from sharing his love of biology with those around him in the halls of GDS. His students appreciated his passion as well.
“One thing he would do before each test was give us candy, and it always made me excited for our tests,” junior Sophia Flyer said. “He was always caring towards his students and excited to see us every day.”
Last school year, George was one of five teachers left from the school’s days at the MacArthur campus. One of the others, high school performing arts teacher Laura Rosberg, became a close friend of his during their time together at GDS.
“He will fight to the death for you when he is your friend. He will do anything for his advisees. He is straight up and tells you what he is thinking,” Rosberg said. “When his mother was passing, he left GDS for 6 months to care for her. That kind of love and responsibility he showed impacted me.”
Aside from teaching biology, George participated as either an actor or a guest director in GDS’ theater program every year of his time at the school in GDS productions including Anne of a Thousand Days, Amadeus and The Fantastiks.
“He is a really excellent director and the kids learn an awful lot from him,” Rosberg said.
In his retirement, George plans to explore Italian culture: drinking the country’s wine, eating its food, enjoying opera, which he recently attended with Rosberg, and hopefully visiting Italy sometime soon.
Of his departure from the school, George said, “I will miss teaching, but I knew it was time.”
Catherine Dooley ’24