Buena teacher Ray Knerr crosses the finish line as he heads towards retirement


Ray Knerr launches himself into the 800 Mt. SAC relay, held in Hilmer Lodge Stadium “where the worlds best athletes compete,” as their slogan says.

After 38 years of teaching at Buena, Ray Knerr finishes the race of being a teacher, as he heads towards retirement, and leaves behind an impactful perspective on life. 

Colleague and friend, Heather Arrambide, describes Knerr as someone who is “inspirational” as he tackles life with a “fearless and adventurous spirit.”

“He has a unique perspective that I don’t think that a lot of people are reflective enough to have, because he really savors life,” Arrambide said. “He stops and he enjoys it, and he challenges himself.”

While Knerr taught a variety of classes during his tenure, such as Web design, Digital Photography, and even Algebra and Economics, he made sure to make time for the things that truly matter such as relationships with others. This gave him the opportunity to have that human connection and “influence” he now says was his “number one satisfaction”. 

“Mr. Knerr cares about his students on a personal level,” junior Jon Miller said. 

Students were able to sense how “thoughtful” Knerr is, one of them being senior Rachel Gleeson. She mentioned how he would put “a lot of effort” into listening to his students with an “open heart” and provided them with inspirational tidbits. 

He would constantly remind them the words of the late singer, Tom Petty, which were written in his classroom, “I won’t back down”, along with other favorite inspirational quotes of Knerr. 

Beyond just being a teacher in school, Arrambide states that he was a “teacher of life,” or a mentor to all of those who interacted with him. 

“I think of how he tried to influence his students in terms of how they approach life and trying to impart some of the wisdom he’s learned on fully enjoying life and being present, making it all that you want it to be,” Arrambide said.

His approach on life was strengthened by his late wife, Diane Knerr, who fought until the end of her life with a brain tumor, proving the doctors “a year or two” diagnosis wrong. Due to her positive approach on life, she survived 15 years more. 

Ray Knerr takes inspiration from his late wife, Diane Knerr. “I’m always imaging how she didn’t give up,” Knerr said.

“I’m always imagining how she didn’t give up, she was always positive, and would say ‘Make every day better than the last’,” Knerr said.

After seeing what she had gone through, he knew that he would have to “live that way for the rest of [his] life,” Therefore he set out to accomplish more goals and be more persistent than ever before. 

He has taken this new chapter of life as an opportunity to continue to challenge himself “physically, mentally and spiritually” as Arrambide has seen him do before. Knerr knew that come 2022, it was “time for a change” and he wanted to take advantage of retiring while being “healthy and happy”.

He plans to do a lot of traveling,”spend time with his family, while also pursuing his “number one passion, running. After getting second place four times and first only once, he’s excited to taste victory in the World Championships of track and field. 

Although he will be missed by his students, he will still be helping the track and field team. In other words, Buena will still have the “wisdom” and “ insight” Knerr brings to the Bulldog family, as Arrambide said. 

“I think he will be profoundly missed,”  Arrambide said. “I think he has touched a lot more souls and spirits than he realizes.”