As a lifelong resident of Long Beach, Joan Van Blom was a 35 year employee with the Long Beach USD. She taught at Lakewood High School and Hill Middle School before becoming the district's first ever Physical Education Curriculum Leader. She served as the PECL for 10 years before retiring in 2012. As the Curriculum Leader for Physical Education, she was able to secure grants totaling one million dollars to provide equipment and teacher training for district Physical Education teachers. Joan was well known throughout the state for her expert teaching skills. She presented numerous times at professional development workshops.
Her passion for an active life was clearly evident in her teaching as well as her personal life. Not only was Joan an outstanding educator, she put her name permanently on the map in the sport of rowing by becoming the first American woman to medal in the Olympics in the sport. She earned silver medals in singles in 1976 and in quads in 1984. She made the Olympic team in 1980, but the US boycott of the games prevented her from winning a potential gold medal.
She is a member of Wilson High, Long Beach State, Century Club, and US Rowing's Hall of Fame. She was a tremendous teacher and athlete, but even a better human being.