Retiring teachers given special recognition at Hononegah School Board meeting
Retiring teachers at Hononegah Community High School (HCHS) were given well-earned special recognition at the Board of Education meeting on April 20. Each has excelled in experience and legacy. Teachers sharpen minds on a daily basis and help students develop skills to take into future endeavors.
"We usually do this in May but our meeting is the same night as the HEA [Hononegah Education Association] retirement party," HCHS principal Chad Dougherty said, prior to sharing the backgrounds of the teachers.
Dougherty read from submitted reflections of each retiree; some said a few words during the meeting.
Beth Zimmerman taught English at HCHS for the past 21 years. Zimmerman was hired by former English department head Barbara LaSalle. Zimmerman credits Larry Weber, Linda Dohm and Kelly Rosick for their support, in addition to her colleagues in the English department.
Zimmerman also oversaw study hall and lunch duty. "I feel that every teacher should get the chance to come into the lunchroom," Zimmerman said in a written reflection.
She was instrumental in her work as supervisor of the Key Club, in addition to organizing the Sunrise breakfast.
“Kids are kids and we have good ones,” Zimmerman added. “I am grateful for my colleagues, and especially the students and parents." Zimmerman is married to teacher and head varsity football coach Brian Zimmerman.
Cathy Myers started at HCHS in 1994 as one of 27 new hires that year. “This has been collaborative and has been engaging,” Myers said. Dougherty said that he was encouraged to see Myers was running for an office outside the school. (She was recently reelected as president of the Janesville School Board. In 2018, she ran for Congress in Wisconsin.) At age 17, Myers introduced former Vice President Walter Mondale when he visited her high school.
Myers reflects, “Every day, somebody at HCHS stopped by to see how my day was going.”
“I tried to be an advocate for the best interest of students.” Myers taught English at HCHS for 21 years.
Cass Bukowski began her teaching journey in the fall of 1995, which was 27 years ago. She was one of six new hires in the English department. She put down roots and enjoyed teaching siblings and the children of previous students, many who have chosen varied career paths. “We never know the legacy of students. As a teacher I was able to nurture and to build a rapport. I always wanted to provide quality learning experiences and to know that at least one life has become better from that experience,” Bukowski said.
“Our students are regional champions, and will be competing in state. Two of our students completed the sectional oral competition in less than 10 minutes,” Janet Kagan lauded. “Hononegah produces the most incredible math students.”
Kagan further stated that she strove to be the best teacher for her students. “My success was student success. I am proud of the fact that I am nationally certified.
Kagan has been awarded a Golden Apple in 2004-2005 and taught at HCHS for 22 years. She fondly will remember her students as “an army of mathletes.
Tim Sughroe taught math for 32 years. Sughroe looked back and said that he will take his time toward retirement one day at a time. “Words cannot express how much I appreciate the school board members, and all of the relationships that have developed, “Sughroe said.
Sughroe gave a special mention to all of the Golden Apple winners. Sughroe was a Golden Apple recipient in 2004-2005.
Brian Brown calls his 23 years at the school “something special.”
Brown says, “It has been worth the effort.” Brown was originally hired by Tom Adams. Brown has inspired HCHS students through Stateline Robotics where he was recently honored with the “Woodie Flowers Award” at the Seven Rivers regional competition.
Mike Miller said, "Hononegah has always been my home; four generations of my family attended here and my grandfather served as president of the Board of Education." Miller spoke of his many memories of time spent on the football field. Miller was also a basketball coach both at Guilford and at HCHS, coaching and making a difference on and off the court for over 30 years. In the classroom he spent 21 years doing the same.
"I was a senior at Guilford when it was revealed that Miller was inducted into the State of Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame," Dougherty said.
All of the teachers reflected on the close friendships that have developed over the years. Those who were at the meeting were presented with a certificate and memory shared by Board of Education President Dave Kurlinkus.
“We are losing a tremendous group of teachers. All of you are keepers, “Dougherty said.