Ann Komadina lived to teach
From the October 16, 2004 issue of the Abluquerque Tribune. John Peter Kraljic, Esq.
Ann Komadina lived to teach
By Jeff Commings
Teaching was such a natural way of life for Ann Komadina that when she retired from Albuquerque Public Schools in 1977, she never thought it meant her mentoring days were over.
"She was a marvelous Spanish teacher for me," said her niece, Julie Weaks Gutierrez. "Whenever I had a difficult time, she would sit down and be my tutor."
Komadina's brother and former student, Al Grubesic, said her desire to learn and pass on that knowledge to everyone made her a role model in the family.
"She was a very vibrant person," he said. "It was hard to keep up with her."
Komadina, who died Sept. 23 at an undisclosed age, was born in Dawson, N.M., of Croatian parents.
She majored in English and Spanish at the University of New Mexico. Though many would agree that the graduate degree in Spanish she earned at UNM would qualify her as a master of the language, Komadina still wanted to learn more. She continued her Spanish studies in Mexico, living with families there to better understand the cultures and language.
She returned to New Mexico to teach English and Spanish at Albuquerque High School. She also directed plays for the junior and senior classes there for many years. One of her students was the late Kim Stanley, who became a star on Broadway and in movies.
"Every year at Albuquerque High, they would put on a Christmas cantata," said Weaks Gutierrez. "We waited anxiously for that show every year, and it was amazing that, given all the things she was already doing, that she pulled it off."
Just when everyone thought her plate was full to overflowing, Komadina added Russian expertise to her rĂ‡sumĂ‡, earning a master's degree in Russian from Indiana University at 45.
"She decided she just wanted another challenge," Grubesic said. "Even though Russia was at the time our enemy, she couldn't think of a better way to learn about the enemy than study their customs."
She became the first Russian teacher in APS, teaching the language to students at Sandia, Valley, Highland and Albuquerque high schools. She continued to work in foreign languages as an administrator at APS until her retirement.
After that, her family became her students.
"Teaching was her great love in life," Weaks Gutierrez said. "She was always trying out some new technique . . . on those of us who were the kids in the family."
"One of the great things I remember most about my sister was she took two of my kids to Europe," Grubesic said. "That had a great effect on them because they came back with a great appreciation for the United States."
Even in the time shortly before her death, Grubesic said his sister was eager to teach.
"We were in the car and she was telling (the kids), 'All right, I need to teach you how to say hello in four languages.' She was always in that mindset of wanting people to learn."