Retiring teachers reflect on their time at SHS

After years of service, the time has come to bid a fond farewell to three retiring teachers who have left indelible marks on the lives of countless students. As they embark on the next chapter of their lives, it is only fitting to reflect on their incredible careers, their impact on the school community, and the memories they leave behind.


Debra Schwinn


Debra Schwinn has dedicated 15 years of her career as an educator to Shorewood High School. Throughout her tenure, Schwinn has had the privilege of teaching various subjects in the Social Studies department. 

“Anthropology was my first love. It’s where my heart is,” said Schwinn.

Early on, Schwinn understood she wanted to further her studies in social studies. She considers herself fortunate and grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue her passions at Shorewood.

In addition to teaching Anthropology, American Society, Asian Studies, and European Studies, Schwinn has actively contributed to the Mock Trial Team, being the former advisor, and devoted a significant amount of time to the Drama Department. 

For me, curriculum is always a work in progress. I’m constantly striving to improve, even now, just ten days away from retirement.

Following major retirements in the Social Studies department, the school recently decided to discontinue the Anthropology, Political Theory, and Global Studies courses due to curriculum overload within the Social Studies Department. Schwinn acknowledges these new changes as an opportunity for growth.

“For me, curriculum is always a work in progress. I’m constantly striving to improve, even now, just ten days away from retirement. I believe there’s always room to do something a little better,” Schwinn said.  

To her, Shorewood represents more than just a workplace; it symbolizes a close-knit community that she hopes to maintain her relationship with.

“This is the place where I felt at home from the very beginning, and that feeling still remains. Shorewood is a community I deeply care about,” Schwinn said.

With retirement on the horizon, Schwinn already has plans for her newfound free time.

“This summer, I’ll be heading to Iceland and France, and next summer, I’ll explore the British Isles,” Schwinn said. “In between, you might find me at Brewers games or visiting museums.”

As for current and upcoming students of Shorewood High School, Schwinn recommends following your passions at your own pace.

“Don’t expect to achieve everything all at once,” Schwinn said. “Remember that life takes time. Know what your dreams are and remain dedicated to them.”


Vince Peterson


Vince Peterson has dedicated an impressive 26 years of his career to be a physical education teacher at Shorewood. Since 1997, he has had the pleasure of teaching a range of subjects, including Integrated Wellness, Team Concepts, Lifetime Wellness, Strength Training, and Adventure Education. Among these, his favorite class has always been Team Concepts.

Reflecting on his career, Peterson fondly recalls the people he has worked with throughout the years.

“My favorite memories were the people I worked with,” Peterson said. “I’ve had the privilege of teaching kind-hearted and exceptional students, alongside amazing colleagues in my department.”

Peterson previously coached at Shorewood, specializing in basketball and golf, but now coaches girls basketball in Mukwonago. Besides that, Peterson has pursued a part-time job in flipping and building homes for the past ten years.

My favorite memories were the people I worked with. I’ve had the privilege of teaching kind-hearted and exceptional students…

Peterson reflected on the path that his career has taken.

“[If I could have changed something], I probably would have gotten my Master’s Degree early on,” Peterson said. “One of the reasons I didn’t is because it was challenging to balance while teaching and coaching.” 

Regarding the future of the classes he has taught, Peterson believes that the Physical Education Department’s curriculum is in good hands after his departure from Shorewood. He expressed gratitude for the efforts of Mark Sullivan, a fellow physical education teacher, who has contributed significantly to the Department’s longevity.

To Peterson, Shorewood holds a deeper significance beyond just being a job. He commends the exceptional students and teachers he has had the privilege of working with throughout his time at the school. 

“Shorewood has been a significant part of my life,” Peterson said. “I’ve developed great friendships and love running into students I’ve taught outside of the classroom. It has been an outstanding place to be, and I can’t imagine having spent my career anywhere else.”

As the seniors of Shorewood embark on new chapters in their lives, Peterson expresses the importance of branching out in this period of self-discovery.

“Get involved,” Peterson said. “Explore as many different things as you can. Avoid limiting yourself to one pursuit. That’s why we encourage students in my department to engage in a wide variety of activities. Immerse yourself fully in whichever environment you find yourself in.”


John Jacobson


John Jacobson has dedicated 34 years of his career to Shorewood High School, making him the longest serving teacher as of now. 

Throughout this extensive period, he has taught a diverse range of subjects, including American Society, European Studies, African Studies, World Studies, Multicultural America, American Government, and Political Theory. With each class offering unique takeaways, Jacobson finds value and enjoyment in each teaching opportunity.

When asked about his favorite memories from his time at Shorewood, Jacobson’s response reflects the richness of his experience. 

“I have too many favorite memories to list while teaching at Shorewood,” Jacobson said. “It would take hours to recount them all. This year, in particular, has been exceptional. I couldn’t imagine a better final year than this. My students have been fantastic, my classes have been engaging, and my colleagues have been wonderful. As always, it’s been a truly fulfilling experience.”

Retirement holds a surreal feeling for Jacobson as teaching has been the defining aspect of his daily life for so long. With newfound free time, Jacobson has a bucket list of activities he hopes to pursue. His priorities include honing his golf skills for an upcoming Pro-am event, traveling—particularly during the fall and spring seasons—and engaging in smaller endeavors such as starting a podcast with a friend, writing, and even driving for Uber.

It took me that time to realize that, as teachers, we can surpass the limitations of most mainstream textbooks.”

Reflecting on his tenure, Jacobson identifies an area he would have approached differently. 

“During the first 10 years, I relied heavily on mainstream classical textbooks,” Jacobson said. “It took me that time to realize that, as teachers, we can surpass the limitations of most mainstream textbooks. If I could go back, I would have broken away from reliance on textbooks earlier and explored alternative methods.”

Jacobson extends his appreciation to the Shorewood community for their trust and support, enabling him to view teaching as a creative art form. 

“Shorewood has provided me with a supportive community, administration, school board, colleagues, and students who have embraced unconventional teaching methods and critical thinking,” Jacobson said. “I am deeply grateful for the freedom and flexibility Shorewood has afforded me.”

Above all else, Jacobson prioritizes staying true to yourself throughout your academic journey.

“If you are attending college, pursue subjects that genuinely interest you,” Jacobson said. “College offers an all-consuming experience, and it’s crucial to spend four years studying something you truly love and have a passion for. If college is not part of your plans, ensure that you find meaning and purpose in whatever path you choose. It is the greatest gift you can give yourself, regardless of your chosen direction.”