Hawthorn Retires Over 775 Years of Service

When Joan Sheldon began her teaching career at Hawthorn School District 73 some 41 years ago, students were taught in a single schoolhouse. Route 60 was two lanes. Cows meandered up to the fence to visit with her physical education classes.

“My legacy to my students is that they strive to lead a healthy lifestyle but it’s okay to eat junk food once in awhile. Life is a balance. Life is a journey,” Mrs. Sheldon told Hawthorn staff who attended a retiree and recognition ceremony. She left staff with this thought, “What gift will you give your students? How will you inspire them?”

Superintendent Nick Brown expressed his gratitude of the retirees. “Thank you for the commitment and the hours and hours you’ve given to the district. Thank you for the standards you’ve set for our district.”

Teachers and support staff totaling more than 775 years of service to Hawthorn schools will retire this year. Below are the names of the Hawthorn retirees. Their titles and schools where they work are attached.

Patti Barclay, Mary Castellano, Maria Delannoy, Michelle DiCarlo, Lynne DiVincenzo, Colette Frazier, Kerry Frischkorn, Becky Hill, Marlene Horan, Sharon Horan, Lisa Lee Kmichik, Gloria Kosatka, Diane Krueger, Tim Kuehl, Chris Kwiatkowski, Carol LaBissoniere, Robin O’Connor, Joe Omiatek, Cheryl Rejc, Carol Richardson, Marilyn Ring, Toni Schramm, Joan Sheldon, Laura Starr, Kim Sue, Elaine Sullivan, Bruce Tossey, Phyllis Townsley, Judi Urbanek, and Kathy Wysong.

Following are some memories shared by a few Hawthorn retirees. Each retiree expressed how much they would miss their colleagues and the children they taught.  

Toni Schramm
Hawthorn Elementary North
Library Media Specialist
“My legacy was creating hundreds of readers by getting the students excited about books, authors, and reading…talking about amazing books with children is what I will miss most.  Sometimes the students thought it was funny how excited I became about the books I was sharing, but they loved hearing about them and scrambled to the bookshelves for the books afterward!”

Sharon Horan
Hawthorn Middle School North 
Sixth Grade Social Studies Teacher 
“My advice to my colleagues is to challenge yourself each and every day finding ways to keep your teaching fresh and new, and your standards high. I will miss the students, staff and the opportunity to watch sixth graders grow to become strong, confident and intelligent eighth graders. “

Maria Delonnoy
First Grade Teacher
School of Dual Language
“I had the honor of starting the Dual Language Program in 2001 with Laura Gitzinger and Amanda Larrivee. This was a leap in the Hawthorn curriculum.”

Marilyn Ring
Art Teacher
Hawthorn Middle School North
“I started teaching art in the old intermediate building where Townline now stands.  It was a small cozy school where a family atmosphere prevailed.  The building was old and had many physical problems.  The boys’ washroom was located directly over the art room and overflowed often.  I had to train the art students to quickly put garbage cans under the leak.”

Lisa Lee Kmichik
Eighth Grade Language Arts Teacher 
Hawthorn Middle School South
“I grew up in Wilmette, and my family had never heard of Vernon Hills.  When I started teaching there we got out a road atlas to find it.  My dad claimed it was where Moses had lost his shoes.  I drove up Route 41 to Route 60 to save the 30-cent toll on I-94.  There were no stoplights between Milwaukee Avenue and Butterfield Road.  You could only turn right onto Aspen Drive and the school was on the left; it was called Hawthorn Intermediate School, but most now would know it as the original Option School or the building that was torn down.  New Century Town was such a ground-breaking development. Pictures of it were featured as an example of a state-of-the-art community in a science book the district used.  There was no train station and the post office was a tiny branch of the Mundelein Post Office housed in the mall.  Gregg’s Landing was known as the Cuneo property. The Cuneos lived in their mansion and there was an exotic breed of deer that grazed on the lawn.  We taught students whose families were migrant workers in the area.  Route 60 from Milwaukee Avenue to Lakeview Parkway was vacant.  Further west on Route 60 was Lester’s Material where the Lester family owned a herd of Buffalo.”

Joe Omiatek
Science Teacher
Middle School South
“When I started teaching there were about 90 students at each grade level across the district.  Smoking was allowed in the pod teaching areas where there was just one phone. I hope that I enhanced the learning of science by experimentation and hands-on experiences that has been emphasized during my science teaching career at Hawthorn.  Pep assemblies included wrestling students attempting ‘Jello’ wrestling.  Jan Adelman and Mary Benton had a clay pot throwing contest. My most memorable moment was the time during a science assembly when to demonstrate one of Newton’s laws, Tim Kuehl used a sledge hammer to break a cement block that was on my chest while I was laying on a bed of nails.”

Bruce Tossey
P.E. Teacher
Hawthorn Middle School North
“I taught in the building on the corner of Aspen and Route 60 before it was torn down. We taught P.E. in the cafeteria as well as empty classrooms. I loved my job and I enjoyed coming to work everyday. My biggest memory was a challenge I was given for how many consecutive free throws I could make. It was 138 free throws.”

Carol LaBissoniere
Chorus/General Music Teacher
Hawthorn Middle School North
“I started at Hawthorn when there were different buildings for every two grades. I taught in the first Hawthorn building and moved rooms because when it rained my classroom flooded. Since that time I have built up the chorus program to over 100 students.  The chorus students have received high scores at contests. When teaching music history, the students listened to some Medieval music.  I explained to them that the music was rather dry back then. One eighth grade boy said, ‘It’s because when you were our age, this music was just coming out.’”