District 95 trio preparing for retirement
Mary Ann Eiserman, an English teacher at Lake Zurich High School, goes over a lesson with a class at beginning of this school year. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:02AM
At the end of the 2011-12 school year, 23 teachers, administrators and staff members will retire from Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95.
In the coming weeks, the Lake Zurich Courier is featuring all of the retirees who choose to participate.
This week’s featured retirees are Mary Ann Eiserman, an English teacher at Lake Zurich High School, Sandie Edwards, a physical education teacher at Seth Paine Elementary School, and Peggy Smiesko, school nurse at Paine.
Eiserman said when she was attending college, women were either nurses, secretaries or teachers and while her parents told her she could major in anything, they were insistent she get her teaching certificate.
For the past 29 years, Eiserman has taught English at Lake Zurich High School and while she said the kids haven’t changed much, she has noticed they aren’t as serious about writing well and don’t put as much time as they used to into re-writes or focusing on grammar.
Eiserman landed at Lake Zurich after being cut at Wauconda High School. Though after her interview, she was a little surprised she got the job.
“I was being interviewed and the guy said ‘now if you don’t say anything stupid tomorrow, you’ll probably get the job,’” Eiserman said.
Her response? “I’ll work on not being stupid tomorrow.”
Although she won’t miss grading research papers and essays and institute days, Eiserman will miss her students.
“It really is the students and I’ve been very lucky over the years that I had kids that like me, respect me and still find me halfway funny and interesting,” she laughed.
Retirement will bring the 10-year breast cancer survivor more time to focus on getting the children’s books she’s authored published. Her sister illustrates them.
“I feel so good,” she said. “I feel like I’ve really conquered something.”
Although she was never the most athletic student in the class, one of Edwards’ former physical education teachers is what inspired her to be a teacher.
“I had a P.E. teacher when I was in high school,” Edwards said. “I’m not the most athletic person in the world. I never have been, but she taught me if you try and give 100 percent to reach your personal goal and you reach it, then you should be very proud of it.”
It was August 1973 when Edwards joined Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95. She started as a P.E. teacher at the former Lake Zurich Junior High, before spending a few years at Lake Zurich High School, where she also coached volleyball, girls basketball and softball. Then she taught at May Whitney Elementary School and Charles Quentin, but she’s spent the past 20 years at Seth Paine Elementary School.
“It was so interesting,” Edwards said of the change from high school to elementary school. “I loved coaching and I loved being at the high school. When I went to the elementary level, (the kids) were so excited. Anything I wanted to do, (the kids) went completely bonkers.”
Edwards has grown to love the elementary level, especially the excitement the kids have over everything. One thing she’ll never forget is a student’s response to the school’s 1996 Olympics-themed field day.
“As the busses were coming for the end of the day, this kid caught my attention and said ‘this was the best day of my life,’” Edwards said recalling a first-grade boy.
While most of her nursing career was spent in the operating room, it was after her first retirement that Smiesko joined the school crowd.
After retiring from her job, Smiesko was working in a quilting store a couple days each week. A conversation with another quilter and former nurse revealed that there was an opening for a substitute nurse in her school district. In 2003, Smiesko joined District 95 as a substitute nurse and since 2008, she has been the full-time nurse at Seth Paine Elementary School.
“I think the kids are just incredible,” Smiesko said about why she loves her job. “We are also the front line, first response for everyone in this building... You have to really be versed in a lot of different disciplines as well as liking kids.”
Smiesko said while a lot of her job is passing out band aids and ice packs, sometimes the kids just visit her because they need a little extra TLC. The nurse acts almost as a grandmotherly figure to some of the kids.
“They just come in because they like to get that extra one-on-one,” she said.
In April alone, Smiesko saw 465 students stream through her doors.
The nurse loves being one of the first people students meet when they join the Seth Paine family.
“It’s the feeling I get when I walk down the halls and all the kids say ‘Hi Nurse Peggy,’ with a wave,” she said.