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Fate lands her on the board

October 14, 2004

Andrew Edwards

When Catherine McGough started her teaching career, her journey began

with what seemed like a quirk of fate.

"It wasn't necessarily what I wanted to have as my career,"

McGough recalled.

McGough is running for reelection to the Huntington Beach City

School District's school board, where she has served for 12 years.

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She spends her days at Huntington Beach Adult School, where she works

as an assistant principal and manages programs that include parenting

classes and senior education.

When she was still a student, her calling was the stage, rather

than the campus. But she started on a different path when it came

time to leave the university and start her career. In 1973, after

earning her degree in theater arts at UC Irvine, McGough visited her

mother, who worked in the library at Brea-Olinda High School, where

McGough took classes as a teenager. As luck would have it, McGough

was looking for a job, and her old principal was looking for a

teacher.

"I kind of fell into it," McGough said, "Although when I look back

on it, it was kind of a natural because there was so much education

around me."

McGough remembered that her mother's job in the school library was

an especially strong influence in her migration toward teaching.

Eventually, she landed at Huntington Beach High School in 1976.

She specialized in teaching writing skills at the school, she said,

but enrollment was dropping at the time, and teaching jobs were

scarce. She ended up bouncing around the Huntington Beach Union High

School District, taking administrative posts at Fountain Valley and

Edison high schools and the district office before landing at the

adult school.

Though she was shuffled around quite a bit, her job satisfaction

was high enough to convince her husband, Paul Kollar, to leave the

social work field to become a Spanish teacher at Ocean View High

School.

"It's very catching," she said.

All three of McGough's children went through Huntington Beach City

School District schools on their way to high school and college.

McGough and her husband gave the district's schools high marks, and

her positive take on the district inspired her to run for a school

board seat in 1992.

"I saw the great education my kids were getting and I wanted to go

to," she said.

In her first campaign, she was encouraged to run by Brian Garland,

now a member of the Huntington Beach Union High School District's

board, Garland at the time was on the elementary school district's

board and the principal at Edison High School.

"As an educator, I knew she was focused on kids," Garland said.

"And I said to her, 'Why don't you run for school board?'"

Garland said McGough impressed him as a hard-working board member

during the time they served together.

"She's very bright, asks very in-depth questions," he said. "We

didn't always see eye-to-eye, though being educators, the tendency

was that we did."

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