A bittersweet goodbye

Three teachers look back on their time at LN as the school year comes to an end and their retirement begins


As the year comes to a close, the teachers and staff who are set to retire are entering their last weeks at Lawrence North. Mary Grossling, Spanish IV and V teacher, is one of the teachers who are retiring.

“I came to Lawrence Township schools in 2001. In 2007, I was moved to the Immersion program, and I was invited to teach Spanish Immersion II. I taught that for several years, and then I took a leave of absence for one year, and then I came back to the regular program,” Grossling said.

Teaching is regarded as one of the most people-oriented careers available. Grossling finds that this aspect is what she appreciates most about her job.

“My favorite part about working at LN, without any reservation, has been the kids I’ve met. It’s been amazing. I promote going into education with my kids all of the time. I think it’s an amazing profession. I can’t believe that I get a salary in exchange for my time with a beautiful group of kids. I love that. I absolutely chose the correct profession for me,” Grossling said.

While retiring brings about bittersweet emotions, it also allows for more freedom. Grossling is an avid traveler, and is excited to continue taking trips throughout the year.

“The biggest thing I want is control of my time. I love to vacation in the winter, and now I’ll be able to go in January or February and get the cheap flights. I think that’s the biggest thing. My husband is from Chile, and summertime starts in December there so we love to go for Christmas. Again, the pandemic has really changed things for us, and for our future plans. I also have family in Texas and California and I’m looking forward to moving south and being closer to them,” Grossling said.

Spending the last year of teaching during a pandemic has been difficult, but Grossling still has some parting words of encouragement and optimism.

“I want to say to the LN community that every day I’ve struggled with the pandemic, and I’ve really struggled. Recently it’s been more of a struggle compared to the beginning because it’s getting really old. It’s really getting tiring, but this will pass. Everything you love about school as a student or teacher, it’s going to come back. We just have to be patient and stay the course, and remember that the carrot is out there, the prize is out there, we just have to hold tight,” Grossling said.

Dawn Gentry, AVID teacher, has been on the LN staff for nine years. While her career is also coming to an end, she believes that her experience has been fulfilling and she fondly looks upon the time she spent at Lawrence North.

“It’s been a fabulous experience. I first started in the P.E department teaching swimming, and then I transitioned into AVID. My whole experience has been wonderful, I’ve loved it. I like that I get to teach all grade levels, so the experience of watching the students mature and grow has been great. I love working on the college application process with the seniors and the success of seeing them all being accepted into colleges,” Gentry said.

Gentry has experience working with various schools and grade levels. She finds that the interactions and conversations she has been able to have with the high school students at Lawrence North have been something she’s appreciated.

“I think my favorite part of working at Lawrence North has been the maturity of the high school student in general. I’ve taught all grade levels. I started my career at Fall Creek Valley, then I went to teach at Sunnyside, and then I came to Lawrence North. I think just teaching at the high school level, you get to talk about so many different things with them. The aspect of growing up, becoming an adult, being able to have those conversations with them, you can’t have those conversations at the elementary level,” Gentry said.

Similarly to Grossling, Gentry is anticipating the freedom and flexibility that retirement will grant her. Nevertheless, Gentry is not ready just yet to stop working entirely.

“I’m looking forward to not getting up so early. I’m a morning person, I get up really early. I think not having to get up so early and having some flexibility, being able to do a little more traveling. I’m going to take the summer off, not necessarily give up working. I might look for something more part time, just something that affords a little more flexibility than what I’m doing right now,” Gentry said.

As Gentry looks ahead to her retired life, she is grateful for the staff and students that have surrounded her for the duration of her years teaching at LN.

“I’ve had just a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I’ve enjoyed the staff. I’ve enjoyed the administration. I’ve enjoyed the students. I’m so glad that I ended my career here because it’s been such a wonderful experience for me. The students have been wonderful to work with. It’s been great,” Gentry said.

Chuck Deardorff is currently teaching anatomy. He is retiring after 27 years, but that’s not where his Lawrence North journey began.

“I did my student teaching here. I started as a relatively young man, about 32 years old. I’ve taught so many classes since then- biology, integrated biology and chemistry, vertebrate zoology, AP and IB biology, and then anatomy for the last decade or so. So I’ve taught many courses in my long career,” Deardorff said.

Deardorff, along with the other retirees, feels fortunate to have been surrounded by the LN community.

“My favorite part has definitely been the coworkers and the kids. I’m so proud, during my years of service at Lawrence North, to have worked with amazing educators who are so dedicated and so knowledgeable in their content areas. I’ve been very blessed with those teachers as role models, people that help mentor me and teach me. They’re my peeps,” Deardorff said.

Retiring is a significant milestone for many adults entering their later years. Deardorff has found some difficulty in ultimately accepting this for himself.

“It’s a new, scary adventure. I’m pretty conservative in the sense that I like things to stay the same. It’s still not real yet, that I’m really going to do this. Everything lined up and it happened. I’m really the one not accepting it,” Deardorff said.

Deardorff is excited to start a new chapter in his life. Even though he is moving forward, he won’t forget all of the students he has taught and the school events that have left a lasting impact on him.

“Whether watching the kids win a state basketball championship, seeing the girls soccer in the last couple of years, the boys baseball. The kids that are working so hard and trying to stay motivated, those kids mean a lot to me. I’ve met just the best people, and I’ve had the best times of my life in this building,” Deardorff said.