2020 retirees

Nine BVNW staff members are retiring at the end of the 2020 school year


Several Northwest staff members will not be returning for the 2020-2021 school year. These include teachers Jim Hale, Marlee Coyne, Carol Cobb, Michaelyn Podany, Steve Landes, Tenny Dewey, Jane Schaumburg and paraprofessionals Sally Rice and Deb O’Halloran. 

Teaching for 27 years at BVNW plus two years at Blue Valley High School and six years at Liberty High School, Spanish teacher Marlee Coyne said her favorite memory was being the class sponsor for the first full four-year class to come through Northwest. 

“I was the class sponsor for the very first four-year class and when they graduated in 1997, I had seen these kids open the school and go through and be there for the first four years, that was exciting,” Coyne said. “[At graduation] I remembered when they were just little 13 and 14 year olds and now they were men and women ready to go off into the world.” 

As for her future plans, Coyne said although she does not have anything specific lined up as of now, she wants to get involved with service organizations and playing cards. 

In terms of advice she has for students, Coyne said to give the teachers a chance to learn who you are, try new things and be excited about learning in general. 

For teachers, Coyne said to get involved with the students outside of your classroom, to so them in a different light. 

“Get involved with things outside of the classroom like going to a sporting event or going to a play, so that you can see your students in some other format other than the kid who sits in row two, just try to get to know your students,” Coyne said. 

Another teacher retiring is Carol Cobb, an IRR teacher in the special education department who has been a teacher for 34 years. 

Cobb, who plans on substitute teaching and traveling during retirement, said her advice for students and teachers alike is just to live life. 

 “We have all been given this life and to just go through the day and not really live it is sad, so just live life,” Cobb said. 

As for her favorite memory, Cobb said it was when she helped a student who was dealing with a substance abuse issue. 

“I had a student come to my classroom for the first hour and I went over to talk with him prior to going downstairs and I could tell that he had been drinking,” Cobb said. “I looked at him and I said how come you did this today and he looked at me and said because ‘I knew you would do something about it,’ it really was his cry for help and he went to rehab that very day.”

Reading specialist Jane Schaumburg will also be retiring after working at Northwest for 13 years. Before teaching at BVNW, Schaumburg said she owned two book stores for 25 years and before that was a teacher within the Shawnee mission school district. 

Schaumburg said she plans on spending time with her granddaughters, traveling with her husband and potentially doing some subbing during her retirement.

Schaumburg said her advice for teachers and students is to form good relationships with each other and to keep those relationships strong. 

“In general, keep the relationship strong between teachers and students, and teachers connect with students, the teachers are really there to help and support them so keep that in mind,” Schaumburg said. 

Another retiree is Michaelyn Podany, who spent 22 years at BVNW. During her time she taught a variety of science courses and ended her career teaching AP Environmental Science and Physical Science.

Podany said the best part about working was her relationship with students.

“My favorite thing about teaching at Northwest is being able to talk and interact with my students and pick on them,” Podany said.

After retiring, Podany said she originally planned on subbing next year for science classes but said she is unsure now due to what school will look like in the fall. She also said she looks forward to spending lots of time with her grandkids. 

Podany said her advice for teachers and students is to move forward and be flexible.

After working at BVNW for 19 years, para Sally Rice is retiring and plans to spend time raising her granddaughter, playing bridge, reading books, cooking and gardening.

Rice said her favorite part about her job was working with the special education teachers and students and said she liked the challenge and fun that came with it. Rice said the best part was seeing students succeed.

Rice’s advice for teachers and students is to appreciate the time you have.

“For teachers I would just say to be yourself and enjoy your time while you’re in the building and educating the kids,” Rice said. “And for students in high school to take your time and enjoy; do your work, [and] be happy.”

Another retiree is drama teacher Steve Landes, who said he decided to retire because he knew it was his time after teaching at BVNW for 19 years.

Seeing students go into theater-related work, Landes said, is what makes him feel that he has achieved something.

“I just think all of the kids that I have been so enthusiastic about [drama] through the years and have gone on to try to have careers in the theatre is sort of my accomplishment,” Landes said.

Despite awards he has received, Landes said, the experiences he has gained is what matters most. 

“I’ve gotten awards for different things and so forth, but those things don’t really matter that much to me,” Landes said. “It’s about the experience and the people you meet along the way.”

Read more about Landes’s retirement here

Deb O’Halloran was a library para at Northwest for 15 years and is planning on spending time with her first grandchild and doing more volunteer work now that she is retired. 

O’Halloran said her favorite memory consisted of the laughs and friendships she made with the other library staff members. 

“[I had] a lot of good times with Mr. Odle and Mrs. McKay, just a lot of laughs and good friendships and good times,” O’Halloran said. 

O’Halloran’s advice for teachers and students is to appreciate the time spent at Northwest, as she said the staff always makes you feel like you are a part of a family. 

Teachers not included in this story are Jim Hale, who taught Physical Science and Earth Science and Tenny Dewey who taught Psychology. Hale declined to commit and Dewey has not responded.