The CHIEF February 2023

Retiring Teacher Interview By: Lauren Russow

PTHS alumni and teacher Laura Baumgardner, will be retiring at the end of the school year. She is a Special Education Life Skills and Transition teacher at the high school. Ms.Baumgarder graduated from Illinois State University and taught at Streator Woodland for a year before coming to teach at Pontiac, which she has done for thirty-two years! She is the Unified Champion Schools Site Coordinator, Peers in Action Advisor, Unified Coach for Soccer, Bags, Bass Fishing, National Honors Society Advisor, and was the Cheer coach for seventeen years. A fun fact about Ms. Baumgardner is that she has been a part of the Life Skills program since the very beginning. Her favorite memories from her time teaching at PTHS are when she learned that our school was named a Unified Champion National Banner School and the top Unified School in Illinois by ESPN, being the Race Director of the Run for Respect, and when she assisted one of her students, Ken LoPiccolo, at his graduation. She enjoys working with Mrs. Shelton, her students, fellow teachers, and peers. She loves keeping in contact with so many of her former students, peers, and cheerleaders, and is thrilled to see how they are now making a difference in so many ways. Ms. Baumgardner also is so proud to see how the Spread the Word Inclusion initiative has become embedded within our school culture and the community. Ms. Baumgardner describes Pontiac Township High School as cooperative and always evolving. Her advice for freshmen to have a successful school year is to get involved, find something that they’re passionate about, know that they can do anything if they put in the work, and to remember to include everyone. She also encourages students to get involved with Peers in Action and to strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others within the student body and our community. Outside of school she loves to travel, read books and craft. She is currently learning how to decorate cookies. Her favorite books are The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Koune, and The Harry Potter book series by JK Rowling. Her favorite song is “With or Without You” by U2. Her favorite quote is by Martha Washington and it states, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” We wish Ms. Baumgardner well as she goes on to new challenges in the future.

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