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Best of Remember WHENsday

We Remember WHEN Judy Otis, Rick Watson, Cathy McQuillan, John Figlewicz, Elaine Seaman, Deanne Howard, Kathleen Brodnan, and Sharon Takahashi were administrators, teachers, facilitators, staff members, etc at Arlington Heights School District 25, and they remember a lot more! Below are the best of their memories from their experiences in D25.


Can you start by telling us the details of your career in District 25?

Judy Otis (Minor Jr. High, Ridge, South Middle School, Thomas Middle School) - In early March 1964, Mr. Beacon, Principal of Miner Junior High, interviewed me for an elementary teaching position in District 25, after nearly completing a one-year fourth grade experience in Racine, Wisconsin.  I was hired on the spot, as there was a great need for teachers in 1964.  My assignment was a fifth grade position under Principal Hetke at Ridge School where I remained until June 1968.  At that point, I took an 11 year sabbatical to raise two children with my husband, Duane Peterson, who was a sixth grade LA/SS teacher at South Junior High.  Upon his instant death on the second day of school in August 1984, the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Strong, assured me I would have a full time teaching position to support my children who were 13 and 15 at the time.  When I wanted to return to teaching in 1979, teachers were being rifted due to declining enrollment.  However, Dick Hanke, a college colleague of mine and Principal at Thomas Junior High, offered me an aide position in the Special Education Department at Thomas as a “foot in the door” for future positions.  Little did I know that would be my saving grace as soon after, Dr. Strong assigned to me a 3rd grade position at Patton School one week after the death of Duane.  I remained at Patton for 10 years and retired in 1994, under the 5 + 5 offer from the State of Illinois.  In total, I taught 20 years and went out on a real high!

What is your fondest memory of working in D25?

Sharon Takahashi (Westgate, Patton, Greenbrier & Thomas Middle School) - There are so many great memories from working in District 25, but having the breakfast, cinnamon rolls at Lorado Taft with 150 seventh graders is definitely one of them.  I am also proud to have been involved with the RISE effort where the Thomas students and community raised and supplied the funds to build a school in Angola to honor a former Thomas student who died in Iraq. Will Newgard’s picture remains displayed in that school today.

Finish this sentence: “I remember when…”

John Figlewicz (Thomas Middle School) - I remember when…a squirrel crawled up my pant leg.  As Thomas’s Science Department Chair, I had the before-school job of checking on all the animals we had living in the nature court.  One day, as I made my rounds, a wild squirrel crawled up my bell-bottoms.  Since I couldn’t stop him from continuing, I “dropped trou,” only to find the windows lined with the Thomas teachers, enjoying the show.

Deanne Howard (Wilson, Patton, Greenbrier, Windsor & Dunton) - With so many years in the District it is difficult to select just one remember when. I remember when there were 22 schools in District 25 and 10,000 kids. I remember when we could not wear pants to teach/work. I remember when ABC/25 was new and the Duck Races and all the Teacher Grants. I remember when we helped pass tax referenda in consecutive years. I remember when ditto machines, Wollensak reel-to-reel tape players, and a 16 mm film projector was high-end technology. I remember when we had the first staff “buy” of computers and we were all so thrilled with machines that had 2MB of RAM. I remember when Tech Academy started and how wonderful it was to learn about new applications and to try out new programs with colleagues on new computers in computer labs in the schools. I remember when District 25 had the longest email address in the county: and I remember our first website.

What have you been up to since retiring?

Kathleen Brodnan (Ivy Hill, Kensington, South Middle School & Minor Jr. High) - For a few years after retiring, I supervised student teachers from the University of Illinois.  I have relaxed with my husband, who is a former teacher/administrator in District 214.  We have taken trips and enjoy time with our grandchildren.  We have also traveled to many countries, and I have traveled with different groups of friends to many countries.  My latest was a trip to Spain with some former educators that I worked with in District 25.  I love seeing former students in my neighborhood and around town.  I also use social media to keep in touch with former colleagues, students, friends, and family.  I am enjoying life!

What did you enjoy most about working in D25?

Rick Watson (Greenbrier & Thomas Middle School) - It’s pretty simple, Adam...I enjoyed most being a part of a family. I know I just repeated what others said but I’d be lying if I said anything else. It’s about working toward providing everything possible for the kids to help make them better. I treated the students like they were my own son or daughter. I have kept in touch with students from my first year of teaching. They sensed that feeling that I was a part of their lives.

District 25 was a second family. Everyone, from top down, was an equal. They sensed that feeling that I was part of them.

How’s the fam…?

Cathy McQuillan (Olive, Dunton, First ever Remember WHENsday) - I am lucky enough to have two step-children and NINE grandchildren! The grandchildren range in age from 18 years to 1 year. We play with them, take them for overnights and babysit when we can. It’s exhausting but wonderful!

Any message to the Arlington Heights community?

Elaine Seaman (Greenbrier) - I believe the most important message I would have for the community of Arlington Heights, is to continue your support of District 25 schools. The district is known for its high level of educational support for the students. Many families move to Arlington Heights due to its highly rated school system. The staff, volunteers, and parents all strive to do their best to support students. The people are the heart of the community and the school district. As students are exposed to 21st Century Learning ideas, the community of Arlington Heights will become stronger!

Adam Harris