Mr. Madden: The last member of the original Special Projects staff retires

IMG_0348Mr. James Madden is one of the teachers that is retiring this year from UHS. He has been with the school for 37 years since its beginning as Special Projects and has taught for 41 years! Countless students have learned anything ranging from the basics of PowerPoint presentations to software programming under his instruction. Mr. Madden has been integral to UHS, and he will be sorely missed — however, he does have some words to say about his time here.

You’ve been teaching at UHS since its inception. How has the school changed, in your mind?

When Special Projects (UHS) was started It had two parts, a Vocational Education Part and an Academic Education Part.   When we moved over to Rincon High School we left that Vocational Part behind at Tucson High.  In the 1990’s we started a small pocket of Career and Technical Educational classes (the Vocational Part).  For next year all of the CTE classes have been removed from the UHS curriculum.  Things come and go at UHS.  We have had many programs running and many programs have disappeared.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your teaching career?

There isn’t just one.  Every time a former student shares with me their successes in life and tells me that UHS was a great place for them it tells me that we are doing something right.

You teach students of all levels in technology courses. For a technology amateur, what is the most valuable thing a person can use a computer for?

Learning is the greatest thing that you can do on a computer.  It is true that you need to be careful what you believe out there on the Internet, but there is a wealth of information at your fingertips.  Education is changing and with greater frequency computers are becoming our teachers.

What is your favorite thing about teaching UHS students?

The “true” UHS student is here for the knowledge.  They want to learn.  It makes me feel good when I see students digging into their assignments deeper and learning more than just enough to get a grade.  It is true that not all of our students are high achievers but those who are not usually do not last very long on this campus.

Now that you’re retiring, what are your plans for the future?

There are a number of paths which I may take.  I would like to help CTE teachers emphasize the math in their individual curriculums.  I have also enjoyed writing software and may give that a try again, either working in the private sector or freelancing.

UHS is entering a new era. As the last remaining teacher at UHS to have been with the school since its beginning, how do you envision the school moving forward in the future?

For UHS to finally get its own campus and be recognized fully as a school will be a great turning point.   Even though UHS will expand I hope that it will maintain its small school feel.  I think that it has a great future.

We hope your future will be great too, Mr. Madden! Best of luck!

Read more tributes to staff members here.



  1. Oh my, he was my Geometry teacher in like 1990. I remember a lot of time in his class during conference hour because math was not my strong point. I hope he enjoys his retirement

  2. Pat Yovonovitz says:

    Jim, I wish you well! Retirement is fun!

  3. Alicia Vaughn says:

    I remember being in Mr. Madden’s computer class in the early 90’s. I still use many of the skills I learned then.

  4. Bob Bobberson says:

    Except he isn’t retiring out of free will. He got “rifted”, which is ridiculous, seeing as he planned to keep teaching for several more years and retire at the same time as his wife. I’m not sure who made the decision to rift him, but he was definitely one of the least deserving of being rifted.

  5. Ed Pacheco says:

    Mr. Madden taught computer class my junior and senior years at SPHS/UHS. This was back in the day when the Radio Shack TRS-80 was a state-of-the art PC, and we had user accounts on the TUSD mainframe so we could learn how to code in the programming languages like COBOL and LISP. I learned many things in those classes that still serve me well 30 years later… So thank you Mr. Madden, and enjoy your retirement! – Ed Pacheco, Class of ’83

  6. Chandana says:

    Thank you Mr..Madden for your great service for UHS kids. But, As a parent of a Sophomore, I really concern about Information Technology going away from UHS since it is one of the most important subjects UHS kids learn in present Technological Era. Removing this will affect the School ranking as well.
    We, as parents appeal to keep IT as a subject in UHS .

  7. Dede "Yogi" Powers says:

    Mr. Madden, I was never a student of yours, but was a student of your daughter, Jamie. I learned a great deal from her in “camp” settings. What I have learned most recently is that she is inspired by you – as a parent and teacher, I think that is a great thing. Congrats to you, enjoy your retirement and know how proudly your daughter carries your legacy.

  8. Robert Saul says:

    All my best friends are Computer Scientists these days. Thanks for showing me the basics, Mr. Madden.

  9. Molly Carmody says:

    I always had Bishop as a math teacher, never Madden, but I heard great things about him. It’s the end of an era, but I hope that UHS will continue to challenge and provoke its students into thinking beyond convention. I value my UHS education above any and all other learning I’ve had since I graduated, way back in 1988. The teachers at UHS are the best, the brightest, and most dedicated in their fields. Hats off to all of them!

  10. like i’ve been telling TUSD since.. 1994?? say the word and i’ll teach an audio DSP class. evenings, i pay you, whatever. the real and ideal world educational potential of computer audio is supertangible, folks. i’m beyond tired of begging to help.

  11. Sandy Sodos says:

    Mr. Madden:
    You taught me geometry my freshman year and we used to eat lunch with you (Kara, Silvia & I). Thanks for being the nice guy you were and putting up with our shenanigans! Hope your retirement is fabulous!
    Sandy Sodos (formerly Katzel)

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