Local educators say goodbye after decades of service
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 12:32

This year’s retirees include teaching couple

by Ben Boehl

    Most teachers will say that the end of the school year is tough because the students they were mentoring all year are moving on, while the teachers will come back the following year and get attached to a new set of students. This cycle goes on for years  — and in some cases, decades.
    Local teachers Jack Sheehe, Bernadine Zienkiewicz and Rick and Bonnie Zentz have seen many years’ worth of students come and go, and now it is their time to “leave school.”
    All are Dundalk-area educators who are finishing their last school year before retiring.
    Jack Sheehe has been a culinary arts teacher at Sollers Point Technical High School for the last 17 years. He ended his 40-year teaching career last week.
    “It’s like I’ve been telling everyone, I don’t know [what is next]. This summer will be like another summer vacation,” Sheehe said. “It won’t hit me until next year.”
    Sheehe said he will probably do some volunteering next year at park locations such as Oregon Ridge in Hunt Valley now that his teaching days are over.
    The 62-year-old Sheehe felt it was time to retire,  since he is now eligible for Social Security and has finished his 40th year in teaching. Also, this was the school’s last year in its old historic building, as Sollers is moving to a new campus it will share with Dundalk High School.

“It all came together,” Sheehe noted. “With the opening of the new building, we need someone with a new vision.”
    That someone will be the other culinary teacher Bill Carlile who will take over for Sheehe as director. A new teacher will take Carlile’s current spot.
    Bernadine Zienkiewicz is retiring from Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts after 38 years of service - 20 of them at Patapsco.
    As the art department chair at the school, Zienkiewicz has seen the magnet program grow.    
    She was there when the school transformed into the current magnet school which specializes in arts and music.
    “I think Patapsco was a typical Baltimore County school that served the (Dundalk) community,” Zienkiewicz recalled.
    “Things changed when we became a magnet school. The school became more global on a smaller scale,” she said, referring to the positive influx of students that came from all over the county with different backgrounds and a talent for arts and music.
    According to Zienkiewicz, the magnet school provides expanded opportunity for art and music students. She said the school focuses on the fundamentals of art and that she has been ecstatic to watch her high school students grow.
    “With the elementary and middle school, you don’t see the students change as much,” she noted.
    “When it comes to high school, you see the difference between a freshman and a senior, a lot of [developing], and I’m happy to be a part of their development.”
    Zienkiewicz said she decided to retire because her husband is also ready to retire from his job in the fall. However, she said she will miss the school. What will she miss most?
    “Definitely the people,” Zienkiewicz answered. “You develop relationships with both faculty and students that are strong and are hard to give up.”
    Speaking of retiring with a spouse, Battle Monument School teacher Bonnie Zentz is retiring along with Parkville High School teacher and husband Rick Zentz. Both are leaving the school system after 35 years of service.
    Bonnie works for the Baltimore County Infants and Toddlers Program in the southeast area of the county, and her office is located at the Battle Monument School in Charlesmont.
    “I met my husband in the sixth year of my career, in 1982, when we were both working at Holabird Junior High (now Holabird Middle School).  I was the part-time speech pathologist there and he was a social studies teacher.  We were married the following year,” she recalled.
    “We both had started in the profession in 1977, so that part was certainly coincidental. The relationship blossomed from there,” Rick added.
    While it was coincidental that the Zentzes started out as educators in the same year, it is no coincidence they are ending their careers together.
    “Bonnie was originally going to retire this year, but then as we examined our finances and options, I decided to follow suit. So, [it was] no coincidence. More like an alignment of the stars. We believe that it’s the right time,” Rick said.
    Even though Sheehe, Zienkiewicz and the Zentzes have put in over three decades of teaching each, Patapsco school guidance counselor Betty Edwards has the longest service of all this year’s retirees throughout the county school system — 50 years.
    As noted in a May 23 Eagle article, all 50 years were spent at Patapsco; Edwards was there when the school opened in 1963.
    “It just seems like the right thing to do, with the school celebrating its 50 years,” Edwards said about retiring.