The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

Retiring teachers say their final goodbyes

For more than 157 combined years, these eight Shorewood teachers have worked tirelessly to create a meaningful learning environment for students. From the elementary to high school levels, these educators have left an everlasting impact on the district. Now, though, it’s time for their next stage: retirement. 

 

Lara Perry, math teacher at Shorewood Intermediate School

This list includes Lara Perry, math teacher at the intermediate school (SIS). She goes out of her way to create a fun learning environment for her students with events like a celebration of Pi Day. 

“Students volunteer to bring pies, and my only requirement is that it would be round,” Perry said. “Then, we [do] a measurement activity […] and [talk] about the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of all the circles.” 

As a Shorewood resident, Perry has grown fond of the community she has gained by living and working in the district. 

“I call my ‘home’ [the] district, which is just then kind of like a dream,” Perry said. “Living and working in the same community has been pretty wonderful. Not many people get to do that.” 

Perry says she will miss helping students broaden their intellectual horizons. 

“Some of my most rewarding moments in teaching have been seeing students have that ‘aha’ moment, when something makes sense to them,” Perry said. 

As for the future, Perry is looking forward to visiting her family, as well as a trip to Hawaii with her husband. She offers this piece of advice to her students: “Just believe in yourself, and never give up.”

 

Michael Roberts, Multi-Age Classroom 2 Oak at Lake Bluff

Army veteran Michael Roberts has taught at Lake Bluff for the past 26 years. Although he started as a science teacher, most of his tenure was spent teaching in the combined third and fourth grade classroom called Multi-Age Classroom 2 Oak. Throughout his career, Roberts has brought in-depth expeditions to the classroom aimed at helping students learn more than just content. He specifically remembers a unit about the effects of single-use plastics that culminated in students mass-producing reusable cloth bags to give out to their families and peers. 

“Our whole classroom looked sort of like a factory,” Roberts said. “That was a really fun memory […] and we have a whole bunch [of bags] left if anyone needs them.” 

Roberts advocates for projects that help students have fun and learn on a deeper level. 

“Some of the trends have moved a little more workbook-y and not so much of the kind of authentic learning things where [students] have a little more choice and voice in what they do, and connecting that final big project with the things we’ve been learning,” Roberts said. “I think that is a far better way to teach kids, and I think kids enjoy it more.” 

Above all, Roberts acknowledges the value of a well-rounded education.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with math or anything, it has everything to do with being a good person,” Roberts said. 

Although Roberts will miss interacting with kids, he is looking forward to hiking throughout the year and reading more books. 

 

Kevin Karman, art teacher at Lake Bluff

Kevin Karman has held the position of Lake Bluff’s art teacher since 1997. He has enjoyed working closely with the rest of the art department and has coordinated collaborations with over 30 working artists who brought their expertise and wisdom to the students of Lake Bluff. 

“When we celebrated Lake Bluff’s 75th anniversary in 1999, that was my first time to work with an artist — a stained glass artist — and that was fun […] all the students created a work of art that’s in our stained glass installation in the front of our building,” Karman said. 

Although he will miss Lake Bluff’s 100th anniversary next year, Karman is ready to move on to new endeavors, like working on more of his own artwork. 

“Teaching is an art, and teaching art has been my work of art that I’ve worked on for 32 years,” Karman said. “So I’ll be happy to move on to something else.” 

Karman reminds his students to give themselves time and space to imagine. 

“If I could give my students a lesson, it would be a chance to observe, get inspired, and then dream something that would grow out of them and what they’ve observed that could become something new,” Karman said.

 

Annette Koerten, French teacher at Shorewood Intermediate School and Shorewood High School

Annette Koerten is ready to retire from teaching French after being an educator at the middle and high school for more than a decade. She has immersed students in the French language and culture by using a variety of activities. 

“We [make] beignets for Mardi Gras, [have] crêpe parties, and we watch movies,” Koerten said. 

One special activity is the pen pal program she created, which allowed SIS students to connect with students from France. 

“I really love revealing the letters to them,” Koerten said. “The students look at all [the letters] and say, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing.’” 

Although she has made wonderful memories within the district, Koerten is excited for the next phase of her life, and intends to prioritize the goals on her bucket list. 

“I would love to write a book about my experience, my life,” Koerten said. “That’s one of my biggest dreams.”

She hopes to share her life’s journey, including living in 19 places and learning four languages, through her writing. 

“I learned so much through growing up with different cultures, and how to embrace the world with all the wonderful things [it] has to offer,” Koerten said. “I would say to my students, if you can, just travel. If you can’t travel, just read or watch a lot of things [about] culture. There’s so much that you can learn from the world. Normally, when you learn from the world, you also learn a lot about yourself.”

 

Brenda Eiers, third-grade teacher and Karen Walton, third-grade teacher at Lake Bluff

Brenda Eiers has taught at Lake Bluff elementary school for 34 years. After spending her first year as an instructional aide, Eiers went on to teach fourth grade for 13 years and third grade for 20

“I have learned patience and how to be compassionate with people,” Eiers said. “Patience for knowing that everyone is not the same, they do not learn the same, they do not learn at the same rate, and how to understand that, be empathetic, be compassionate, and patient to help everyone move forward.” 

Eiers worked with Karen Walton, third grade teacher at Lake Bluff, throughout the years to create fun and educational opportunities for students. 

“I think one of my favorite things that Karen and I developed and executed for 20 years was our unit called Econ and Me,” Eiers said. “[It is] a wonderful, kid-friendly economics unit based on a set of videos, and the culminating activity for that, Kid City, was something that brought every child joy.” 

Eiers looks forward to traveling during the next few years, but will always carry what she has learned from teaching. 

“What a privilege it has been to work with awesome, caring students,” Eiers said. “That has made me proud to be connected to an organization like this, where we get to see kids who have gone through [the district] and to see what you become and how you develop. It is just such a joy.”

Walton has spent the last 30 years of her career with Shorewood. Although she spent a few years teaching second and fourth grade, a majority of her tenure was spent teaching third grade alongside Eiers. Walton built an exciting atmosphere for students to learn in. She encouraged students to enjoy learning through a variety of ways, including read-alouds. 

“My favorite thing is reading to the kids and making them love reading books,” Walton said. “I would do that for hours every day if I could.” 

Walton worked with Eiers to introduce a variety of opportunities to the kids, including Kid City, a quilting project, and an annual trip to the Milwaukee Ballet’s Nutcracker. Although she is retiring, Walton continues to advocate for teachers within the district. 

“We have incredibly smart and knowledgeable teachers here that really care passionately about what they do,” Walton said. “I would like to see that teachers’ voices [are] heard.” 

Walton is excited to travel, spend time with family and friends, and take time to do other activities she enjoys. Walton particularly appreciates the families she has met throughout her teaching journey. 

“I will miss being part of families and getting to know families and siblings,” Walton said. “It’s very special to have that kind of relationship, and that’s something very unique to Shorewood.”

Both Eiers and Walton urge students to visit and reconnect with old teachers. 

“I’m going to encourage people to go back and let teachers know if they had a favorite teacher or memory and share that, because some do, but we don’t see many,” Walton said. “If [you] have someone special in [your] life, a teacher … go back.” Walton said. 

Eiers agrees on the positive impact of such a visit or message.

“When you share those special memories or things, you make someone happy, and you make them smile,” Eiers said.

Troy Thibedeau, high school math teacher, and Jackie Sprinkmann, Atwater third grade teacher, were not available to record interviews, but have nonetheless made invaluable contributions to the district.