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Mary Ronayne

April 12, 2017


On Wednesdays, District 25’s Communications Coordinator Adam Harris, catches up with a District 25 retiree. This week he was able to find a teacher who was thrown into action before she had her interview!


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

Ms. Ronayne got her job in District 25 in an unconventional way. Here is how it happened in her words:

I walked in that day for my interview in 1954 and I was a little bit intimidated. I hadn’t yet finished student teaching or anything. I remember that it was very busy around South Junior High. You know, that’s where the administration offices were back then. I had an interview with Mr. Claybaugh, and he said, “Ms. Coghlan, I understand we have an interview. Well, instead, how would you like to teach kindergarten today?”

I was shocked but of course I agreed. They were short substitutes that day and needed someone in that classroom. They treated that day for me like a trial as they plunked me at Dryden School. That would never happen today! I remember Bob Campbell, the Dryden Principal, kept a sharp eye on me that day. After it was all over, I returned to Mr. Claybaugh and he said, “I understand you did well. How would you like to sign a contract with us?”

I did in a heart beat to work as a kindergarten teacher at Park School, which was opening the following school year. You know, they never did pay me for that one day of kindergarten teaching at Dryden (smiling and laughing).

Park School was just a wonderful experience and school. It was a true neighborhood school. Parents could not do enough for you. I taught at Park School for five years and then got married and had my two children. I stopped teaching full-time and transitioned to subbing.

I subbed until 1967.


What is your fondest memory of working in D25?

Ms. Ronayne made life long friends through District 25. She get’s together with a group of teachers from Ridge School who call themselves the Ridge Remnants.

I loved the people I met and the relationships I formed. I just made really great friends through District 25. The parents too, they were wonderful. They could not do enough for me. I remember that I would really try to teach my students things through games. We would teach colors by selling lollipops [that were all different colors]. When I taught, this was the kids first experience away from home and from their mother. I loved making them feel comfortable.

I also loved incorporating music into my lessons. I think music is a great way to get the minds going and learning.

I just love the way I was taught to teach.


Finish this sentence: “I remember when…”

I remember when…I cut one of my student’s bangs. Poor little Kathy was always pushing her hair out of her face. Her father was the one who always got the kids ready for school in the morning because the mother was in Springfield all of the time. She was a state representative.

One morning I asked Kathy if she would like Mrs. Coughlin to cut her hair. She got so excited, so I did it. I’m not sure I was supposed to do that.

Well, that evening at school there was an open house. I was talking to a bunch of parents and I saw, at the door, was Kathy’s father, just standing there. I thought I was going to get reamed out. He walked right up to me and said, “that was Kathy’s best day of her life!” I breathed a sign of relief.


What have you been up to since retiring?

Since retiring, I raised my children and now I volunteer at the St. Joseph’s retirement home in Palatine. I like to stay as busy as I can!


How’s the fam…?

My family is getting along wonderfully. I have two children. My daughter Shelia taught art for 23 years and is now retired. My son eared a degree in agriculture and works for Land O’ Lakes in Minnesota. I have five grandchildren ranging from the mid 20’s to the early 30’s.

I was married twice. Both of my husbands passed away, my first husband at an early age. He was a principal. 

I am very proud of my children and of my grandchildren. My grandchildren are all very successful and doing very well and that makes me happy.


Any message to the Arlington Heights community?

From my experience, District 25 has always been a great school district. There is always a lot of supportive people behind it and that’s what makes it so great. You’re lucky to have your children in this amazing District.

Adam Harris