Logging off: 9 teachers retire after a year of difficulties


Mia Carr and Hailey Cho

As the school year comes to an end, goodbyes are being exchanged throughout South’s hallways. Although most of these farewells will only last for the summer, there are a few people who will not be returning for the next school year – retiring teachers. 

One of the nine teachers retiring this year is history teacher Jeff Scheinkopf. Scheinkopf, like all other retiring teachers at South, had to give his notice for retirement four years ago. Given that changes can occur within four years, Scheinkopf said that it took time to decide if retirement was what he wanted, but after 24 years at South, he explained that it was time for a change.

“At this point in my life, I have reached the age where I think I’m ready for some new challenges,” Scheinkopf said. “I’ve enjoyed all my time here with students and I love the department I work in, but I think it’s time to look at enjoying life in a different way.” 

Scheinkopf shared that one of the lessons he has gained from teaching is seeing from a student’s perspective. After gaining a better understanding of his students, Scheinkopf found that he was able to appreciate his students’ resilience and work ethic. 

“While I might love history, I recognize that not all of my students love history,” Scheinkopf explained. “If I can get a student interested in what we’re doing, that’s half the battle. If they have a good attitude about it [and] World History isn’t too bad, then it’s a win.”

After a hectic year of hybrid learning, math teacher Marriane Kerr shared that her last year of teaching challenged her to revise previous methods. Kerr worked to create new environments where she could better connect with her students. Kerr emphasized participation and collaboration in her classes, which she said helped her greatly.

“I thought I would take advantage of the fact that we can get together, even if it’s over a Zoom meeting,” Kerr expressed. “While [this year] was harder in many ways, it’s actually been more rewarding because I’ve worked so hard.”

Although Kerr’s time at South is coming to an end, she said that she is ready for new life experiences after teaching at South for 16 years. Besides visiting family and traveling, Kerr mentioned that she is interested in volunteering opportunities.

“I think there are a lot of needs in the world where my skill set could be helpful,” Kerr said. “Maybe I can find a school that needs math tutors or teachers who’d be interested in STEM professional development.”

French teacher Katie Klahn, who has taught at South for 31 years, also plans on using her time once retired to explore her passions and interests, or as she calls it, “Katie 2.0.” Klahn plans to move to Michigan and said that she is excited to explore the new opportunities that await her there, like working at a local university, gardening or traveling.

“I’ve got a lot of interests that I would like to explore, and teaching has been the focus of my life,” Klahn explained. “I’ve enjoyed [teaching] so much, but now that I can retire, I think it’s just time to do that and explore some other things.”

Although Klahn is at peace with her decision to retire, she expressed appreciation for the years she spent at South. Despite doubts from those around her, Klahn said that teenagers are her favorite people to be around and have made her job more interesting and exceptionally wonderful.

“The thing that I will always say to people about my life as a teacher is it was great fun and so engaging, so interesting,” Klahn said. “I have devoted 33 years of my life to [teaching] and I’ve loved every minute of it.”