By Ben White for the Waterbury Roundabout
As Harwood Union High School’s 2020-2021 school year drew to a close, the students and faculty said goodbye to those retiring or leaving the school for projects elsewhere.
Those who are retiring are doing so after long, dedicated careers in education. For example, Christopher Whalen just wrapped up his 29th year at Harwood. He’s been a teacher for thousands of students throughout his career teaching American Literature courses.
“I started as a student teacher in the fall of 1991,” Whalen said. “I’ve always thought it a privilege to work here at Harwood. I feel grateful for the students and the people that I’ve worked with over the years, and I really enjoy when I’m out in the community and our district. I’m always running into former students. It’s also nice to have the children of former students. It’s been a great experience.”
Upon reflecting on what he plans to do after retiring, Whalen added, “I published a book 30 years ago on hiking the Appalachian Trail and I never had any time to do writing in depth. So now I’m thinking of doing that in the future. So, I think some writing, a little traveling and certainly a lot of reading.”
|Christopher Whalen. Courtesy photo.||
Kathy Cadwell. Courtesy photo.
|Mary Woods. Courtesy photo.|
Kathy Cadwell, known for her teachings in Harkness and Three Democracies, is retiring from Harwood after a service of 40 years. But, as she put it, she will still be working with students. “I am not retiring from education, but will be working at schools throughout Vermont to train teachers in the Harkness pedagogy – a practice of teaching and learning that we have embraced at HUHS. I will be working with students and teachers at several Vermont high schools next year…. I have loved my time at Harwood, a great school with dedicated professionals and talented students.”
Another teacher retiring, Mary Woods, has also taught her fair share of students throughout her Harwood career, dating back to 1988. Many remember taking her Spanish classes from middle school to their graduating year, learning about the culture and language of Spanish-speaking nations.
Lisa Therrien began her high school teaching career in 2004 but had previously worked in the middle school in other positions and is also retiring after a distinguished career. Almost every student at Harwood can think of a time when Therrien popped into the classroom and offered guidance. Whether it was figuring out a tricky problem in math class or trying to sort out the complicated scheduling system, Therrien was there with a comprehensible response and was willing to walk a student through to get to where they could succeed.
Barbara Saxe is also retiring after a long career, saying, “I have been at Harwood for six years and have been teaching for 28 years in the field of special education and as a literacy specialist. I have loved my time at Harwood. The faculty and staff are what make Harwood unique; they are like a second family.” Saxe said the students have made her time at Harwood extra special, in particular the class of 2020 and the Class Council.
She has many plans for her retirement. “After Harwood, I am planning to go back to my first career designing patterns for fabric for interior and fashion design, teach botanical watercolor, write and illustrate children's books, dance, paddleboard and ice skate. Most importantly spend time with my two beautiful grandchildren and family.”
|Lisa Therrien. Courtesy photo.||Barbara Saxe. Courtesy photo.||Joanne Andrews. Courtesy photo.|
A giant retirement has happened this year on Harwood’s cafeteria staff who may not be as familiar to students as some teachers are, but their importance is never in doubt. The ranking member in the kitchen, Joanne Andrews, is finishing up her final year at Harwood and retiring after 48 years.
Andrews has crafted her own language among herself and the fellow kitchen staff that made cranking out food for the kids efficient. Perhaps the longest career of a current staff member, Andrews’ husband actually helped construct the actual building in the mid-1960s. As her co-workers joke, she was “born in the basement” of Harwood.
On top of being amazing to work with, great with the kids and making sure everyone was taken care of, Andrews was not lacking in the spirit department. Come any kind of holiday, you could count on her dressing up in some way.
One of her frequent quotes in the kitchen was, “change is good,” inviting new and exciting things on the menu and in the kitchen. Although she is leaving, Andrews’ presence and school spirit has been forever carved into the cafeteria at Harwood.
There are others on the Harwood staff moving on to different areas both within and outside the school district. Michael Woods, Amanda Brown and Tracy Taylor are leaving the health and services department; Andrew Bishop is leaving the math department; Lisa Ryan is leaving the social studies department; Stefanie Weigand is leaving the music department; Sally McCarthy is leaving the guidance department; and Lissa Fox is leaving the future exploration department. Harwood also bids farewell to long-term English substitute teacher James DeLizza and Kristine Caldwell, who worked as an instructional assistant. Rachel Wells leaves after a stint as a long-term sub in the art department and later as a reading interventionist. And Eric LaRose is leaving after eight years as a behavioral specialist and this year’s 504 coordinator.
Ben White is a rising senior at Harwood Union High School.