Educators everywhere have seen their end-of-the-year plans disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But for retiring English teacher and department chair Kimberly O’Brien, the school closure meant having to spend her final months at LHS teaching her students online.
For her long-time co-worker and fellow English teacher Paula Bastemeyer, the loss of O’Brien’s knowledge will be felt particularly strongly.
“She was a walking reference,” Bastemeyer said. “I could ask her anything, and she would know the answer.”
Bastemeyer knows O’Brien will miss getting to say goodbye to her students.
“We’re all going to miss that sense of closure,” Bastemeyer said. “Ms. O’Brien especially, because she was going to get closure with her sophomores, her juniors, and her seniors.”
The years leading up to her retirement have not been easy for O’Brien. Her father passed away a year ago, and she has been helping with her stepmother’s care.
“I’ve had a lot of loss lately,” O’Brien said. “I’ve been involved in grief. And I was thinking this morning that I feel that way about my classes, too. I feel like my classes were just ripped away from me, and I’ve been in a grieving process.”
Dealing with the fallout from COVID-19 and switching to online teaching hasn’t been easy. But she’s taken it all in stride.
“So much has happened in my life in the last couple of years,” O’Brien said. “It’s like, OK, right when I think that I’ve taken the last hit then something new comes up. This is just one more thing in a series of challenges that I’ve had to deal with in the past couple of years.”
One thing O’Brien won’t miss is a retirement party.
“To be honest, I just wanted to quietly slip out the back door,” O’Brien said. “I’m not the kind of person who likes a lot of hoopla.”
O’Brien already has plans for her future.
“There’s so much that I’m going to miss,” O’Brien said. “I know I’m not going to be done with teaching.”
One thing she has in mind is tutoring.
“I love to help kids one on one,” O’Brien said. “I’m hoping that I can continue to do that.”