Echoes were probably Virginia’s

Former ESL instructor Virginia Scales’ touch continues to penetrate the department of life at SJCC


By Steve Hill, Contributor

Alice Gosak laughs and recalls Virginia’s life and accomplishments.

Krissy Tobey, Times Staff

A celebration memorial service in the San Jose City College Art Gallery on Friday, Feb. 8 allowed several dozen friends, colleagues and family members to participate in lighthearted disputes over who knew Virginia Scales, former dean of Language Arts and ESL instructor, the longest.

Scales passed away on Oct. 6, 2018 at age 84. An activist, mentor, educator and friend, she was remembered by many during the two-hour event for her civility and labor advocacy. She left several legacies, and the potent community she built continues to breathe through the laughter of her friends.

SJCC was professed to be her second home, and Ron Levesque, a former ESL instructor, said that Scales liked to say that “she knew where the bodies were buried.” Chuckles and nods followed: a testament to the jovial spirit and range of Scales’ influence.

Scales spent more than three decades at SJCC. One of her many projects to enrich and educate her environment was fighting to keep the SJCC journalism department alive. When it was threatened with closure, she wrote a program review and argued that the voice of the students through the SJCC Times ought to persist.

The City College Times Adviser Farideh Dada continued to advocate for this cause in Scales’ memory by offering a pamphlet for anyone wishing to donate to the Journalism Department.

Taking his turn to vie for longest-lasting-friend and speaking at the podium, Javier Chapa, and English faculty, said, “I (still) see Virginia on campus … Virginia used to always … carry these big packs of folders. I saw a woman coming out of the business building and I saw all those folders and I thought, “Oh my God, that’s Virginia.” When I told Alice (Gosak, a former ESL instructor) this morning, she said, “It probably was.”

Scales’ humor and influence continue to thrive on the SJCC campus. In the spirit of community banter and fellowship, Sami Ibrahim, a chemistry instructor, said, “My claim to fame is that I know where more bodies are buried on this campus than Virginia.”

One is left with the impression that she would have laughed.

By Steve Hill, Contributor
Hiwot Abraha,left, and Cassie Piotrowski share their memories of Virginia in front of Virginia’s photo montages.
Steve Hill, Contributor
Ron Levesque, Virginia’s friend, mingles outside the Art Gallery.
















By Steve Hill, Contributor
Alice Gosak remembers Virginia Scales and accomplishments.
By Steve Hill, Contributor
Hiwot Abraha and Pat Nguyen mingle and remember Virginia Scales.