Unsung heroes series: Veteran KPMS teacher hangs up his hat


Kristie Byrd and Amanda Smith, Special to KP News

What does one do after retiring from teaching? Golf, of course! That’s not all Dave Tarabochia plans to do. He will be relaxing, fishing, and spending time with his parents in Gig Harbor as well.

In January, Tarabochia taught his last class at Key Peninsula Middle School, ending a 30- year career.

David Tarabochia grew up in the Gig Harbor/Peninsula area and attended local schools, including Goodman Middle School and Peninsula High. He graduated from PHS in 1971.

He lived in Gig Harbor, then moved to the Key Peninsula when he accepted a position at KPMS. Twenty-one of his 30 years teaching have been spent at KPMS. During those 21 years, KPMS was a better place of learning because of him, according to staff and students. He taught math and social studies to all three grade levels.

Tarabochia, known at the school by the nickname “Boach,” had a positive influence on every student, teacher, administrator, and support staff member who spent any time at KPMS. He impacted the lives of every student who entered his classroom. Whether it was basic sixth grade math, eighth grade advanced math, or social studies, his students learned.

One of his students, Tara Miller, a seventh grader at KPMS, said, “Because of him, I learned to be better at math. He helped not only me but even my brother, who is now doing much better, and it’s all thanks to Boach.”

Another student, Adrienne Torres, had almost a whole page of notes about her favorite teacher. “Boach is a very good teacher. He’s my favorite out of all of them because I used to hate math and I never understood it. Now I actually like it. Every time I had a question, he would have the answer. Whenever I needed help, he was always there. He has a good sense of humor and if we were good, he’d crack some jokes. He is nice to everyone no matter what. All of his students respected him. I’m sure that everybody will miss him. No one will ever replace him here at KPMS.”

Even at Peninsula High School, the impact on his students is evident. “Mr. Tarabochia was the best math teacher I’ve ever had. He taught in a way that was fun and entertaining. For example, we played Frisbee as a way of learning about parabolas,” said his former student Charlie Hagen, now a PHS freshman. His classmate Travis King said, “Boach was hands-down the best math teacher I have ever had or ever will have. He was a very fun person to be around and he lifted my spirits.”

Wesley King, Travis’ brother and now a senior at PHS, added, “Boach had a real gift for dealing with children. His mannerisms were charming to everyone who knew him, and the monotony of math was drained away in his class.”

Tarabochia’s colleagues will remember him fondly as well. One of the teachers at KPMS had an interesting story about his first encounter with Tarabochia. One of the first teachers Tarabochia met when he took the job at KPMS was Rick Selfors. Selfors, a legend himself at Key Peninsula, began teaching when the school opened, two years prior to Tarabochia’s arrival. When the two teachers conversed the very first time, Selfors told Tarabochia about a piece of machinery he wanted. Selfors explained that it was valued at around $20,000. He explained to Tarabochia that he knew where he could get one for only $7,500. The only problem was Selfors couldn’t pay for it because he had no credit and, being a third-year teacher, he really didn’t have much money. Selfors further explained that the timing was most unfortunate because in 60 days, he would be receiving an $8,000 paycheck from a recent fishing job in Alaska. Tarabochia pulled out his wallet and wrote Selfors a check for the entire amount! Forty-five days later, Selfors paid him back. In exchange for Tarabochia’s generosity, Selfors promised he would act as general contractor on a house that Tarabochia wanted to build on the Peninsula. Now, 22 years later, Tarabochia is still living in that house. How many people would give someone that kind of money when they first meet? That’s just the kind of guy Tarabochia is.

Tarabochia has been a huge part of making Key Peninsula Middle School what it is today. He will be missed very much.

Kristie Byrd and Amanda Smith are eighth-grade students at KPMS and members of the school’s student paper, Eye of the Cougar.