Alumni Spotlight - Mike Tierney

This month our Alumni Spotlight Focus is Mike Tierney, St. Bernard’s Class of 1993.

Mike Tierney, Class of 1993 is our Alumni Spotlight for this month. The class of 1993 began 32 students strong and graduated 4 years later as a small, but close knit, mighty class of 26 individuals, 10 girls and 16 boys.

Mike recalled some school memories that stand out to him: playing JV Basketball, being on the Tennis team his sophomore year, playing Varsity Baseball and Varsity Football and having a part in the play, Twelve Angry Men.

Mike remembers achieving a 4.00 grade point in the second semester of his sophomore year.  He was especially proud of that and worked hard to pull the A in Mr. Feist’s math class.  He also recollects “working really hard at baseball my senior year because I knew that it was going to be my last year of my 10 plus-year youth baseball career, and it also paid off with an all-county star.”

A sports memory that stands out for Mike is when he almost scored the winning touchdown in a home football game:  “Late in the fourth quarter Brett Spiering threw me a perfect pass for around 30 yards, but I got tackled on the 8 yard line and we couldn’t score.  We lost the game by less than a touchdown.  I got interviewed on the news for almost winning the game.  It is almost a really positive memory!”

Mike also recalls one “in-trouble” memory.  “I was one of the co-conspirators of the infamous ‘Freshmen Literature Revolt.’ I believe it was Mrs. McLaughlin’s English class, and she had instructed us to open our books to a certain page to read a story.  Several students, including myself, Brett Spiering, possibly Jason Petty, and I think even some others, decided to not open our books to the indicated page, and instead piled our textbooks in the middle of the room. That was also when I learned what ‘The Tank’ was (detention room), which is now a supply storage room in the office area.  I am pretty sure that Mr. Jacob’s was the one who ultimately squashed the rebellion and introduced me to ’The Tank.’”

Mike returned to St. Bernard’s Academy four years ago to teach all levels of Spanish and is affectionately known by the students as “don Miguel.”  A couple of his old friends have dubbed him “the new Mr. Lennon” because he teaches Spanish in Mr. Lennon’s old classroom.  Mike says, “That’s a huge compliment to me as Mr. Lennon was one of my heroes, and it has really inspired my mustache game!”

After graduation from SB, Mike completed one year as a freshman at HSU. After taking the next year off to live by the beach in Redondo Beach, California with his friend Leon, he returned to HSU to obtain his History degree with a Spanish minor.  After that he lived in Oaxaca, Mexico for six years, teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language) and surfing as much as he could.

He then lived in Ventura, California for a few years doing various jobs before coming back to Humboldt State and obtaining his Teaching Credential in 2012.   Mike always felt he would become a teacher.   In fact, about five years after he graduated from high school he remembers receiving a “Letter to my Future Self” that he had written at SB as a high school class assignment.  In the letter Mike envisioned he would be teaching History (in Spanish) in Costa Rica. Even though that did not happen, having lived in Mexico and having worked with English Learners, Mike felt like his Teaching Credential and teaching Spanish was meant to be.

Mike says, “I have an amazing family that got started in Oaxaca when I married my wife Lizette and our oldest son Wiyot (16) was born there.  Santiago (11) came along in Ventura, and now we also have Patrick (5) who was born here in Eureka.  It gets pretty rowdy around my house at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Being a husband and a dad really changed my life, and it is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Mike relates that he got the surfing bug in Junior High School , but it was his sophomore year at SB that it really took off.  JJ Katri ‘87 and Paul Regalo ‘87  would take Paul’s brother Steve ’89 and Mike to the beach to watch them surf.  Then Steve started driving so he and Mike would go to the beach and surf all the time. Other SB guys that Mike remembers surfing with were Ian Hartley ‘93 and Jess Bareilles ‘90.   During his senior year Mike surfed a lot with his freshman buddy Marty Turkis ‘96.

One vivid memory for Mike is when he was surfing in Mexico and saw two of his childhood professional surfing heroes, Tom Curren and Kelly Slater, talking to one another. He explains,””that is basically the equivalent of witnessing a conversation between Joe Montana and Tom Brady!”

However, with his family growing, surfing took a back seat.  To replace the surfing thrill, Mike took up ramp and “bowl” skateboarding, but a broken leg in early 2020 sidelined him for a while.  It remains to be seen what is next for Mike!

There are a few of his old friends from the class of ‘93 that Mike gets together with every now and then.  He’s had some fierce pool-hall battles with Brandon Murphy and Matt Grummert ‘92 in recent years.  He occasionally goes surfing with his buddy Steven Regalo ‘89. He tries to keep track of everyone on Facebook.  He also likes that everyday he gets to see some old acquaintances and new friends from other classes on the SB campus, as there are lots of SB alumni around.

Mike believes that, “St. Bernard’s instilled in me a great appreciation for the Catholic tradition in which I was raised.  I acquired the necessary academic skills that would help me succeed in the university, and I developed some life-long friendships and created many priceless memories with my classmates.”

One last observation Mike made was his family connection to St. Bernard’s High and one of the factors that made him want to work at the school.  His grandfather, Wayne Johnston, was a founding member of the Crusader Athletic Board (CAB). His aunt Judy Johnston Giannini was in the pioneer class of 1957, his uncle Nick Giannini graduated in the class of 1958, and both of Mike’s parents were graduates; his dad Neal in 1959 and his mom Jean in 1961. His Aunt Helen Johnston Carlson was in the class of 1965, and his Uncle Corky Johnston graduated in 1967.  His cousins are graduates also: John Giannini in 1980, Matt Giannini in 1982, Felicia Carlson Costa in 1989 and Sarah Carlson in 1992. Last, but certainly not least, Mike’s older sister Jennifer graduated in 1985 and his older brother Dave graduated 1987.

Mike sums it up, “I feel right at home at SB, and I love continuing the family tradition.” “St. Bernard’s #one family”