Graduating Class

MN teachers leave high school to pursue new opportunities

With the 2021-2022 school year coming to its close, many seniors are looking forward to their new futures in their respective colleges. Leaving high school is bittersweet, where the prospect of a new school also means many goodbyes to the memories made over the past four years.

However, this year’s seniors are not the only ones departing from MN. Many teachers and administrators will be leaving the school as well, with the goals of pursuing new opportunities.

For English teacher Hannah Heser, family is her priority as she leaves Omaha to live in Denver for two years. Her husband was offered a position in construction, one that would allow her to be with her children more often.

“We said ‘no’ so many times, but the one time we said ‘yes’ was because they were giving him a promotion, and because I could stay at home with my babies, which I never thought I could do,” Heser said. “For me, I love teaching, but I love my daughters more, so I’m going to take the opportunity to be with them while they’re little.”

Heser, who teaches English 9, Honors English 9, and Media Analysis, has enjoyed what her teaching experience has brought her. Despite the difficulty that comes with teaching, she knows she will miss the interaction she gets with her students and colleagues.

“I still think about kids I’ve taught in the past, I hope they are doing well after graduating because I care about them as people,” Heser said. “Teaching is a very hard job, so we are in it together.”

While family is one reason why teachers are leaving, job opportunities also draw them towards a new career. For Honors English 10 and Speech teacher Rebecca Terrell, the opportunity to be a media specialist at Skutt Catholic High School is her next adventure.

“I’ve just always loved reading and books,” Terrell said. “When I got my Master’s Degree, I knew I wanted to be in something different in case I did want to leave the classroom and pursue something that was still with students, but different from English.”

Terrell wanted the opportunity to become a media specialist with her degree in library science. However, her decision also comes from a desire to challenge herself.

“I just decided that I was ready for something different. There’s nothing about MN or the kids that I don’t love, it was just time for something different,” Terrell said. “Even as adults, I think we need to challenge ourselves.”

For some teachers, both family and the desire to pursue a new career drive them towards opportunities outside of education. Computer science teacher Jonathan Ringenberg will be a software developer at Quantum Workspace, a building just down the street from MN.

“I’ll be a full stack developer, tracing problems from the front end that the user sees to the back end where data is stored,” Ringenberg said. “I’ll try to figure out glitches so it goes more smoothly.”

Ringenberg, who taught kindergarten in China prior to coming to MN, enjoys the energy from a crowd of people that one would find in a school. As an extrovert, he became interested in the prospect of teaching from his experience as a camp counselor.

“I majored in math and took computer science classes in college, so I had the coding experience,” Ringenberg said. “I thought of going down that path, but a big turning point for me was when I was a camp counselor at Camp Kitaki over the summer. The more I looked forward to the summer, the more I wanted to be a teacher.”

After getting a new house and having another baby, Ringenberg wanted to leave the bell to bell schedule that came with teaching. His job offers a flexible schedule for him to take care of his children.

“With a newborn, it was hard to take days off from teaching,” Ringenberg said. “I would have more flexible hours to help out with childcare and the money that would come with [it].”

While the many staff members leaving MN are moving ahead to greener pastures, they will miss the students and coworkers they’ve come to bond with. 

Ringenberg enjoys the variety of activities in a school environment, Terrell reflects on the school spirit, and Heser keeps a binder with memories from her 10-year teaching career.

“It’s every positive email from a parent, or student, or admin, it’s graduation invitations, it’s artwork that kids drew for me, and they gave it because they just wanted to,” Heser said. “It’s the good things, the happy things, and when I have a bad day, I need to open it and remind myself that I’m doing this for a purpose. I’m a teacher for a purpose, and it’s a good purpose.”