Teaching a thing or two

Retiring teachers share why they’re leaving and why they became teachers

Julie McDevitt taught at the school for 26 years after attending the school herself.

Molly Lundstrom

Julie McDevitt taught at the school for 26 years after attending the school herself.

As a teacher, there are opportunities to teach at different schools or teach different subjects. For some teachers, they stay at the same school or teach the same class for almost their whole career, while others move around. At the end of the 2022—2023 school year, nine staff members are moving on to other jobs or retiring. 

Todd Jones teaches Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. Government and World History II. After working in the same place for 20 years, he is moving to North Carolina to be near family. 

“I’m going to work in some capacity,” Jones said. “I’m not certain what yet. It may be in education. It might not.”

Jones has taught several subjects, including language arts, economics, civics, international relations, various history courses, and AP U.S. Government. 

“It’s not the subject matter, [it’s the] teaching that I enjoy,” Jones said. 

Jones went to college to become a teacher but moved on to other jobs until he was 31, when his wife encouraged him to go back to school and get his teaching credentials. 

“I always had it in the back of my head that I would teach at some point, but I decided I owed it to myself and to future students.” Jones said. “I [teach] because I learn every day.” 

Todd Jones taught for 20 years at the school. He will be moving to North Carolina to be near family. (Molly Lundstrom)

One of Jones’s biggest influences was his junior highschool teacher, Mr. James. Jones felt as though James had very interactive lesson plans, and made teaching fun. Next to helping students, James was one of Jones’s biggest influences. 

“I just really like being around young people.” Jones said. “I love the energy. I love the enthusiasm. I feed off that energy. And this might sound kind of corny, but I like going home every day at the end of the day and feeling like I mattered.”

Brian DelFatti, chemistry teacher, is retiring after finishing off his 31st year. 

“I started teaching biology,” DelFatti said. “And I’ve taught a lot of physics too, but I ended my career, the last 15 years, teaching mostly chemistry.” 

Classroom environments and interactions have been different since COVID-19, but DelFatti still makes an effort to engage his students.

“After the pandemic and this break in learning, it was hard.” DelFatti said. “It was [the]

Brian DelFatti taught for 31 years at the school and is now retiring. (Molly Lundstrom)

little things that we all took for granted. How students interact, not just with teachers, but how they interact with each other changed a little bit.”

Being back to school after COVID-19 has provided more opportunities for DelFatti and other teachers to help students learn with hands-on activities. 

“I enjoy the small little things where I’m helping people learn how to think and figure things out.” DelFatti said. 

Although he spent a majority of his career teaching, he did not originally plan to become a teacher. 

“I graduated with a degree in biochemistry and I thought I was gonna go to graduate school, or maybe work in research.” DelFatti said. “But I took a little break after college and I worked for the Forest Service for a while seasonally, and then I had a job as a ski instructor. And it just sort of dawned on me that I enjoyed the teaching part of it. So I went back and got a teaching certificate, and I think it was the right choice.”

Joe Cerny runs the weightlifting, track and field, and football programs. He has been a teacher for 37 years and worked 33 of those for the West Linn-Wilsonville (WLWV) school district. Although most people know him as a coach, Cerny has not always been in charge of sports related teaching. 

Cerny started working in the WLWV school district in 1990 and started up the special ed program. In 1995 when Wilsonville opened, he taught there temporarily to start up their special education program before coming back to become a health and sports teacher. 

Joe Cerny is retiring after teaching for over 30 years in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. (Molly Lundstrom)

“I’ve always felt a real close connection to helping people and that’s why I went into special education at first,” Cerny said. “And I love sports, so I knew I wanted to coach as well.”

Cerny coached for a majority of his teaching career, but now he is retiring from both. He plans on spending time with his family and traveling. 

“I’m gonna turn 60 years old, and it’s time to see my family a little bit more.” Cerny said. “It just felt right. We’re starting a new schedule next year [so] I felt like this was a good time to start something new for myself.”

Julie McDevitt teaches physics in the classroom next to her husband, Shawn McDevitt. Both of them work in the science department and plan to retire together. She worked for 26 years after having attended the school herself. 

“I believe in god, and I believe that I’ve been created for the purpose of becoming a teacher,” Julie McDevitt said. 

As a teacher, sometimes there is only a chance to teach a student once, but sometimes there is an opportunity to teach the same students over multiple years. 

It makes me excited and just happy to know that hopefully, in some little way, I had some influence.

— Julie McDevitt

“It’s been fun to see a student go from being a sophomore to a senior, and just to see the growth in that person is huge.” McDevitt said. “It makes me excited and just happy to know that hopefully, in some little way, I had some influence.”

These retiring teachers received thanks on teacher appreciation week. Nick Pepper, Greg Bean, Jen Cerasin, and Will Sappenfield will also be leaving the school after this year. Pepper works in Special Education and is moving to Lakeridge Middle School. Bean works in counseling, Cerasin works in the arts department, and Sappenfield works in the math department, and all are moving to the new highschool, Riverside. 

While these teachers are moving on from the school, they will be finishing up the rest of the year along with students. Before their send off, students will have the opportunity to say goodbye to departing staff members before the end of the year.