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Time to say goodbye: three of York’s finest retire

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At the end of this school year, three of York’s teachers are putting away their textbooks to retire. The York-hi sat down with the teachers to reflect on their time spent at York and what their plans are for the future.

Senora Byrne

TIY: When did you start teaching?

B: I started teaching Spanish in the fall of 1978. I have spent a total of 26 years as a high school teacher. While my children were young, I took a break from high school and taught at the college level for six years.

TIY: What tradition at York

Senora Byrne snaps a selfie of her with her Spanish Four class fourth period.

are you going to miss the most?

B: I think the spirit week before Christmas is my favorite York tradition. I love the excitement of the upcoming holiday, the Christmas caroling, the band and orchestra concerts, the hot chocolate by the academic doors, and the jazz band playing Christmas music.

TIY: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned by working at York?

B: I learned to be grateful. I started teaching at York the first year of the new academic building after having taken a break to care for my own children and teach at the college level. Returning to be a high school teacher felt wonderful for me. The school building was brand new, and both the teachers and the students were excited to be there. I felt a tremendous sense of pride and respect for the people at York and its traditions. I was excited to share my passion for my subject matter. I learned to appreciate and value my students, my colleagues, my community, and all that we give to each other and receive in return every day.

TIY: What do you feel is the most important thing you have taught a student?

B: I have tried to impress upon my students that learning a language is a lifetime process that will benefit them in more ways than they can imagine. They should travel, experience cultures, make connections, and enjoy speaking Spanish. Also, I hope that my students have learned to value education and to make the most of their opportunities, and to know that there are many people that care about them.

TIY: What are you planning on doing in your retirement?

B: During my retirement, I plan to relax, volunteer, exercise, travel, and spend time with my family.

Mrs. Loerop

TIY: When did you start teaching/for how long were you a teacher?

L: I have been here 23 years. The fall of 1994 was my first year. York is the only school I’ve taught at. I only interviewed here and a couple of other schools because I really wanted to get into York. Strangely, I was hired the same year as Mr. Bendelow and Mrs. Fleming, and we’ve been friends for all 23 years.

TIY: What tradition at York are you going to miss the most?

L: I love the Homecoming week–any spirit week is always fun. I love the pep rallies and when the whole school comes together to honor students who have done well in sports or academically. It’s great to see kids outside of the classroom at these events.

Mrs. Loerop’s eighth period class, and final class of her career as a teacher, takes a selfie.

TIY: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned by working at York?

L: The thing that I have learned, and I’m not sure if I recognize that I learned it, is that individuals need different things and individuals react differently to things going on in their lives. You have to try to have an understanding of what the motivating factor is, what problems kids are facing, and what you can do to help them motivate themselves. I think I’ve taken that away from teaching for so many years.

TIY: What do you feel is the most important thing you have taught a student?

L: There’s definitely more than just the curriculum. Being caring as an individual is something I hope my students see in the classroom. Everyone is different, and everybody should be accepted–the differences are great because they add variety and interest to the classes.

Also, I hope they remember that they can feel safe. They can volunteer answers and take a stab at it, and not feel like they will be criticized.

TIY: What are you planning on doing in your retirement?

L: I’ll be at ‘Casa de Tranquilidad’ more often. It is my bed and breakfast in Honduras. My husband is retired so he goes there all the time, and I usually just spend summers down there. Now I’ll be able to go in January when there is snow and cold in Elmhurst.

Also, I have three married kids and four grandchildren, so I am going to spend a lot more time with them. That will be fun.

Mrs. VanHoeck

TIY: When did you start teaching/for how long were you a teacher?

V: I started teaching in 1984 in a vocational program teaching people to be Medical Assistants. I wasn’t always a teacher–I went to college to be a Medical Technologist.  When I taught that first vocational class, I decided to back to school to become a teacher. I taught at COD for a while, then at Waubonsie Valley, at Hinsdale South, and finally at York. I started here in 1995.

TIY: What tradition at York are you going to miss the most?

V: York has been very good to me–I get to teach classes I love, such as genetics and Med Careers. York has always supported new ideas for classes and kids have lots of choices here for electives that other schools don’t have.

I have loved teaching my students–they keep me fresh, they make me laugh, and I love sharing my passion for biology with them. I will miss my relationships with my students the most.

Mrs. VanHoeck takes a selfie with her first period AP Biology class.

I also love the collaborative relationship I have with my colleagues, of all ages. They have great ideas and enthusiasm–they keep me young and always striving to try new things. I will miss all of my colleagues, both in science and across the other disciplines.

TIY: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned by working at York? What do you feel is the most important thing you have taught a student?

V: I try to instill a love of learning in my students. I feel like I don’t have enough time left in my life to learn all of the things I still want to learn, and I hope this inspires my students the desire to keep learning and discovering new things. I also hope that they will be determined and not discouraged by failure–that failure is just a bump in the road and a lesson learned.

TIY: What are you planning on doing in your retirement?

V: My husband and I are planning to move to Colorado to be near our daughter and grandchildren. I’m not done with education. I plan to keep busy in other ways.  I’m told by other retirees that they are busier now than ever.  I plan to be the same!

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