Pursuing her “‘A’ game”

ELA teacher Kathy Duggan will be furthering her skills during retirement.

Sidney Hallak, Writer

After 15 years of grading papers, reading books and influencing young minds, junior ELA teacher Kathy Duggan has decided to retire.

“I’m retiring just because I think it’s going to be a new adventure,” Duggan said. “I turned 65 and I’m trying to decide what I’m going to do when I grow up.”

After retiring, Duggan said she doesn’t have any definite plans but there are several things she would like to try. Being a writing teacher, she would like to do some writing of her own.

“Right now, everybody has told me that when you retire you shouldn’t plan anything right away; you just need to take time,” Duggan said.  “I’m going to have a knee replacement, so I’m going to be tied up for most of the summer, but after that I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Duggan said she is open to trying new things during her retirement. She expressed interest in spending her time volunteering, editing and potentially writing a sports column. With a brand new grandson, Duggan said she would love to be able to spend more time with her family. She said she would not be averse to moving, but being retired will allow her to travel around and visit all of her children among other things.

“I think this next stage of my life is going to be real exciting,” Duggan said.  “I just need to find something that’s going to allow me to be as passionate as teaching has been.  It’s a little bit scary and new, but it’ll be fun.”

Moving on to the next stage is bittersweet as it means leaving her teaching career behind. Duggan said she will miss the people at BVNW the most, and she would never go on to teach at another school.

“I’m going to miss the students a lot because they’ve kept me young and challenged,” Duggan said. “That’s one of the most unbelievable aspects of this job is that I’m challenged on a daily basis to bring my ‘A’ game. I’m going to miss the faculty a lot, the staff, the administration, I mean this is a school that is not like other places, and I think we forget that.”

Fellow REACH teacher Brian Murphy said Duggan will be greatly missed as a teacher and as a coworker. The thought of working without her scares him, Murphy said. He said he has gotten used to stopping by her room every morning and she is someone he can really confide in.

“She’s a wonderful, caring person and a good friend,” Murphy said.  “There will be a real void without her.”

Despite her leaving, Duggan said the school will be just fine without her. Both she and senior ELA teacher Sherry Unruh will be retiring this year, but Duggan said she thinks any ELA teacher could step up to take their place.

“Everybody in ELA is just phenomenal, so people will definitely step up,” Duggan said. “The department has worked really hard to establish a great mix of people. We have a fabulous department, they’ll be able to handle it.”

Duggan may be leaving, but she said she will still be involved in students lives, especially with helping seniors on college applications. Once she decides what she is going to do, Duggan said her students will be the first ones to know.

Murphy said she deserves the time off, but she will definitely be busy. With her large family and can-do attitude, Murphy said he thinks retirement will be an adventure for Duggan.

“She’ll be busier when she’s retired than when she was working,” Murphy said. “It’ll be great for her [but] it’s always tough to see the good ones go.”

Duggan said she believes Northwest is a great environment and she will miss it dearly.

“I would just like to say what a pleasure it’s been to be here for 15 years I’ve loved every minute of it,” Duggan said. “I know I’m going to miss it a lot, everybody here is a part of my heart and it’s going to be hard to replace [them].”

Whatever she may decide to do, Duggan said she is excited about the possibilities her retirement brings. Her last day will be May 13th because of her impending knee surgery, and she intends to savor her remaining weeks.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do, but whatever it is I’m going to bring my ‘A’ game,” Duggan said.