Topeka High says goodbye to four teachers

As seniors will be graduating in May, the school will not only have to say goodbye to them, but to also four of teachers who will be retiring. These teachers have been a long standing part of the school for 10-plus years, and many of whom have not taught anywhere else.

“There are so many [memories]. The building, the people, the students, the staff, the community that supports us, and we support,” Paul Adams, geography teacher, said.

Teachers are involved in multitude of different events. They support the school from sporting events to school plays to clubs and other various activities.

“I love the Homecoming parades. I am kind of someone who tears up anytime they hear the fight song, so anytime I was at a football game. I also liked running of the halls, the Veterans’ Day assemblies, all the field trips I took with classes, all the clubs I was apart of, and theater. So lots of good memories,” Nancy Vega, english teacher, said.

One of the more apparent things which teachers are able to experience here is tradition. It does not matter when a teacher has taught at Topeka High, because the custom has always been an important part of the school.

“I love the architecture here. I love driving up everyday knowing that architecture symbolizes the tradition that is part of Topeka High. I have been incredibly grateful as well to be in this beautiful room. It does not get any better than this,” Lesley Brancaccio, English teacher, said.

Teaching is an important part of a student’s education, especially during a student’s high school years, because it will have a huge impact on their entire lives. Teachers have committed much of their life to helping students be able to achieve their goals.

“[Something which will stick with me is] the students and their positive attitudes and behaviors. A lot of young people have in their minds that anything is doable at this point in their lives, that the sky’s the limit,” Adams said.

Being a teacher can be a very hard task. They have spent hours in and out of school grading papers and giving assistance to numerous children who need more help with lessons. However, it can be very rewarding to see their students be successful.

“I had always kind of wanted to be [a teacher]. I actually went to college to be an English teacher, it did not quite work out for me. I wound up with a Master’s degree in biology instead. But I like people, I like reading and passing on knowledge, so teaching seemed to be a good fit,” Gail Cox, biology teacher, said.

These teachers have been working tirelessly throughout their years here and have devoted their careers make sure the students are getting the best education possible. Leaving is a bittersweet situation however, while grading and all the energy put into teaching will not be missed, there are many things which will be.

“I am going to miss learning. I think I learn more than the kids do, so I just do not want to stop that part of my life where I am learning. Then I am really going to miss the interactions with high school aged people, and then the great people who work here, my colleagues,” Vega said.

Adams, who comes from a lineage of teachers as his parents and grandparents were teachers, has been teaching at school here for 27 years in the social studies department. He currently teaches World Geography and World History.

“I am going to miss the diversity, the excitement of young people, the building itself which has marvelous architecture, but I have not been able to process,” Adams said.

Brancaccio has been teaching here for 27 years in the english department and started teaching because she loved to read and wanted to share her love of reading and knowledge of the subject with young people. She currently teaches part one and two of senior Composition, junior English, and world literature I.

“[I am going to miss] my students. Absolutely and totally my students,” Brancaccio said.

Cox has been teaching here for 13 years in the science department and her interest in teaching started in high school when she realized being a veterinarian would require her to put down animals. After working in various labs, an opportunity finally came for her to become a teacher . She is currently teaching anatomy and honors biology.

“I am going to miss my students. Students and my colleagues. I am not going to miss grading,” Cox said.

Vega has been teaching here for 22 years in the English department and from a young age was inspired by her teachers to also become one. She had to put her dream on hold while she stayed home with her kids and was finally able to achieve it when she was 41. She is currently teaching creative writing one and two, English 11, and AP language.

“I just had so many moments whether it was learning it through something a class was doing or something a student showed me, or something I witnessed at Topeka High. It is just those moments where suddenly you really realize the important things about life,” Vega said.