A lover of music, arts, history and the well-being of her students, Marybeth Mayzak will always be a pillar of Hazen High School.
She first arrived in Renton to teach in 1991. During her tenure, she helped transform the school’s social studies department and choir classes, inspiring her peers and her students alike with her can-do attitude and her charming sense of humor.
One time, she even had her walkie-talkie taken away during an emergency drill. As one former student said in a Facebook group dedicated to Mayzak, “she was on there using the military lingo her dad taught her.” Another Hazen alum posted a similar memory, adding that Mayzak couldn’t use the walkie-talkie anymore because “she was saying ‘breaker breaker’ and ‘not taking her responsibility seriously.’”
Anyone who worked with and knew Mayzak understood that she took her responsibilities as a teacher and mentor very seriously.
“Her biggest legacy is always going to be that everything she did was so that the kids could have a great experience,” said Hazen teacher Dave Kilburg, who worked with Mayzak.
At Hazen, the school’s Hall of Fame inductees must be retired for five years before they can be considered for a nomination — and as soon as Mayzak became eligible in 2023, there was no hesitation.
“Kids came back when she retired, alumni performed a concert for her and [there were a lot of] people coming from out of town… you just always heard, ‘I love Ms. Mayzak,’” said Jeff Wood, another teacher who worked with her at Hazen.
Sadly, Mayzak died in March 2023 before she could officially be inducted into the Hazen Hall of Fame.
“Not everyone is chosen during their first nomination. This was I would say, almost, if not unanimous, that she needs to be honored,” said Hazen teacher Brett Crueger. “And no one was more deserving than Marybeth.”
Before arriving in Washington in the early 1990s, Mayzak taught in California for 18 years and, according to her husband, Robert, Mayzak originally had a passion for becoming an opera singer and that teaching was more of a fallback career, because it was something of a family career.
“One of her dad’s friends let her student-teach under them. She ended up doing that and she ended up liking it,” Robert said. “She could get a square peg kid and get them through a round hole, and they’d be kicking and screaming the whole way, but then she turned a lot of kids around like that. I would hear, ‘I owe this lady my life,’ ‘she turned me around and I’m a teacher now.’ It’s nice to see that and the impact she had on others. She had an impact on me like that, too.”
To think that Mayzak’s impact as a leader in the school and a mentor might never have happened had she not followed in her father’s footsteps — when collecting anecdotes, memories and recollection of her as a person and as a teacher, it seems unimaginable.
“She really taught me the value of how to be a better teacher,” said Wood.