By Jason Klaiber
Managing Editor for Promotions
“It’s hard to imagine,” says biology teacher Amy Quinn, referring to the fact that her time spent at Jamesville-DeWitt High School is coming to a close. In June, Mrs. Quinn will be finishing up 29 years here.
Mrs. Quinn got hold of a student teaching job at J-DHS in the spring of 1985, and she began her professional career as an educator that fall. For the first two years of her teaching timeline, Mrs. Quinn taught chemistry. After that, she welcomed biology into her repertoire. After balancing chemistry and biology classes for 10 years, Mrs. Quinn started focusing solely on biology. “I love to give information about biology because I love biology and I think it’s so interesting,” says Mrs. Quinn.
However, Mrs. Quinn’s fondness for biology didn’t come along right away. She admits she initially found biology challenging. In fact, she says her regents grade in the class was the lowest she ever received in high school. Nevertheless, she aspired to be a veterinarian and ended up pursuing this field of study during her college years. Eventually attaining a bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne College and a master’s degree from SUNY Cortland, she began taking biology courses during this time, which sparked her interest in the subject.
Mrs. Quinn claims she’ll be happy to shed the workload of teaching as well as headaches from dealing with unmotivated students, but she will miss her fellow faculty members. “The biology teachers and other science teachers have such a special connection,” says Mrs. Quinn. Her colleagues share the same notion. “(The science teachers) all have similar mindsets,” says chemistry teacher Theresa Groman; “We enjoy hanging out with each other, eating lunch together, and laughing together. We’re very close and we help each other a lot.” Mrs. Quinn says that the younger teachers in the school often assist her with any technology that she uses, such as smart boards, due to the fact that they’re “much more in tune.” Mrs. Quinn says that her colleagues are patient as far as trying to help her solve any problems she encounters during the school day.
Staff members at J-DHS hold Mrs. Quinn in high regard. “In a lot of ways, she’s the heart and soul of the school,” says Principal Paul Gasparini; “She’s been here a long time. She’s extraordinarily friendly, kind, and collegial.” Mr. Gasparini credits Mrs. Quinn with “helping to set a good tone,” adding that Mrs. Quinn has taken staff members under her wing and helped them adjust.
In accordance with that, science teacher Michael Keenan, who is also the department chair, states that Mrs. Quinn mentored him and showed him the ropes when they began working together 25 years ago. “I think she’s got the respect of all of her students,” says Mr. Keenan; “They all trust her and they love having her as a teacher.” Mr. Keenan adds that, in return, Mrs. Quinn is supportive of her students and “does everything that she possibly can to make them successful.” “I’m gonna miss her very much,” he says; “It’s been wonderful working with her all these years. She’s definitely going to leave a hole in the science department that’s going to be hard to fill because she’s been such a great colleague.”
Fellow biology teachers Nancy Raicht and Keith Comfort see Mrs. Quinn as the “voice of reason” in the science department. “She’s very compassionate for the kids and always has been,” says Mr. Comfort; “educating the kids is what matters. She does it well but she also enjoys doing it, and that shows with her students as well as her teaching colleagues.” Mrs. Groman says that Mrs. Quinn is “very funny, very smart, and very kind.” Chemistry and physics teacher Amy Boettger views Mrs. Quinn as the “alpha female” in the J-DHS science department. Ms. Boettger adds that Mrs. Quinn assists her in teaching AIS biology. “(Mrs. Quinn) teaches you how to ‘survive’ some of the students and push through to just come in every day with a smile,” says Ms. Boettger. “(Mrs. Quinn) has worked with kids who really struggle with learning and reading,” says social studies department chair and advisor Marian Glauber; “She’s worked with them with very good humor. I love her sense of humor, I love the energy she brings, and I wish her the very best in retirement.”
With nearly three decades of teaching under her belt, Mrs. Quinn says that she’s gained experience over the years in addressing different learning styles. “You become better at addressing the needs of a wide variety of different students,” she explains. However, she adds that not every student is reachable in terms of teaching them biology. Nonetheless, she uses certain methods to ease the learning process for students. “I think if I can make a one-on-one connection with students and just try to engage them in the subject matter, they’ll become a little bit more interested,” she says. “School perhaps isn’t even the top thing on (their) minds. If you can find just little things to draw them in and to find out what they’re interested in, you can try to relate that to what we’re learning.”
This teaching approach has certainly affected J-DHS students positively. “She inspired me to do the best that I can do,” says senior Ryan Mulvihill. “She’s a great teacher.” Senior Brad Carr says that Mrs. Quinn is a “very kind, caring teacher” and adds that she’s very helpful to every student she teaches. “Her strategies are really good and she’s really enthusiastic in the classroom,” says sophomore Mary Kate Scheftic; “I’m gonna miss her when she’s gone.” “She’s a quality teacher and she’s probably my favorite teacher so far in high school,” says sophomore Sam Mueller. Sophomore Jesse Johnson says that Mrs. Quinn is a great teacher and her classroom always has a vibrant atmosphere.
Though Mrs. Quinn will miss teaching at J-DHS, she sees retirement as a bright new step in her life. She’ll be able to share retirement with her husband and visit Florida with him during the winter. While school vacations give her a glimpse of the retired lifestyle, she’ll be able to fulfill her hobbies year-round, including quilting and golf. “I’m anxious to get more into (my hobbies) and just not be as rushed,” she says.