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VHHS bids farewell to dedicated teachers

Five retiring teachers share their favorite stories from their time

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Cheryl Ballenger

How long have you been teaching at VHHS? “14 years”

Why did you want to be a teacher? “I was in business for many years before teaching. My dad was a high school math teacher, and I had always wanted to teach math. But back in the day, you weren’t supposed to do what your dad did. I like numbers, so I became an accountant. So, when we sold the last company I was in, I still had this dream of teaching so I followed it. That’s why I haven’t been teaching for as long as other teachers.”

How has teaching changed you? I think it has helped me understand the teenage perspective. As an adult, I have my own perspective on things like life and politics. I learn as much from my students as the learn from me. I look at things from their perspective, and I think, “Wow you guys are right I haven’t looked at it like that”. It’s made me a more well rounded person”

Judith Smithhisler 

How long have you been teaching at VHHS? “I have been teaching for 33 years.I spent 13 years at VHHS and 20 years at another school. It was interesting because I got to see different parts of how school is run”

Why did you want to be a teacher? “Since I was in 3rd grade, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I just like helping kids and sharing my knowledge.”

How has VHHS changed over the years you’ve worked here? “I think that the curriculum has changed a lot. More is being added to the curriculum and more is being expected from students. Back in my day I didn’t have to take Calculus but now its expected of students. Technology has also changed. Graphing calculators and Chromebooks have definitely changed how kids are learning and how we teach.”

Carolyn Kasel

How long have you been teaching at VHHS? “I have been teaching at VHHS since Day 1, and before that at LHS since 1986.”

What’s your favorite story from teaching? “My favorite story from teaching is a simple one.  It is that moment every year when I tell a joke in French and a few people actually laugh.  That’s the moment when I know my students really understand the language and there is not a better feeling than that for a French, German or Spanish teacher.”

What are you doing after retirement? “After retirement, my husband and I are taking a trip to California where we are going to rent a cabin in Big Sur and also visit the otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  In July, I think we will start more seriously looking for a condo in Wisconsin, and I will try to figure out what I want to do without my Cougars to entertain me all day.”

 

Dave Peterson 

How long have you been teaching at VHHS? “I have been working here since the second year it was open. “

Why did you wanna be a teacher? “I was a paint chemist but I retired early from that job. I went to grad school to do something with science. I was also a camp counselor and it was there that I figured out you could mix high school kids with science”

What’s your favorite story from teaching? “Our principal was coming in to do an inspection on how I teach. I must have looked pretty nervous because I as I looked at my students papers one girl pointed at her paper. I looked at what she wrote and It said don’t worry you’re doing fine. I almost laughed out loud from just reading that.”

Karen Day

How long have you been teaching at VHHS? “14 years.”

Why did you want to be a teacher? “I didn’t because my parents were teachers and they worked very hard. I didn’t want to work as hard as they did but I loved science. I didn’t know what to do with science so I got my teaching degree and it all kept going from there.”

What’s your favorite story from teaching?  “So what a lot of students don’t know is that me and the environmental club built the pond in the courtyard. We couldn’t get any heavy machines in there so we did everything by hand. We didn’t want to get the carpet dirty so we set up a huge tarp as we worked. On the final day of work I stayed there a bit later to do some finishing touches and it started to rain. As I finally finished I realized they took the tarp away and I couldn’t go through the carpet. Lucky for me a custodian came by with a large rolling dumpster. He helped me in it and he rolled me to my chair.”

 

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