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Cheryl Kirchner has reached life’s outpost, which most call “retirement.” As a beloved science teacher who has made ripples across multiple generations in her 17 years in the district and 31 years total in education, it’s no surprise that five of her students joined us to discuss her life and contributions to the district.

Dissecting Kirchner 
(With Lab Help)

“I wasn’t sure if I needed anatomy. I’ve never dissected anything until my senior year. I get in here, and she’s like, ‘Yup, we’re going to start with a cow heart,’ and I said, ‘That’s interesting…’”

You always have to stay positive, keep them up.

“Kirchner,” or “Kirch,” as her students affectionately dub her, was introduced to the wonders of science through the entrails of a rabbit in her own senior-year science class. The teacher was Ms. Smith, and since she received the specialized attention that one teacher offered her, she’s been nothing but permissive and selfless with her time toward her students.


“We are dissecting cats right now, so maybe we’ll be inspired by this one to teach.”


The students are what Kirchner loves most about teaching. If you couldn’t tell that by reputation, then watching students from multiple years crowd around to discuss their first introduction to this famous teacher’s style must be some indication of the effect she’s had over the years. “You reach one,” Kirchner says, “That’s what matters.”


“Hearing that makes me feel the same way toward teachers as a student. I guess at this stage of life, we’re valuing connections with teachers rather than our academic work. It’s always a joy when you’re able to connect with a teacher.”


Kirchner’s students were treated to hand-me-down tales from older siblings who had the thrilling experience of passing through her classes and science labs. More than one student agreed that their older sisters (specifically) had set the expectations for the class. They heard stories of Kirchner’s brand of education: trips for practical field experience and personal relatability to help students retain the information. “I enjoy it. It really is [a big deal]. You always have to stay positive, a new day. Keep them up,” she says.


“You form a bond with your cat. During the practical, everyone’s cat is out, and you just go from station to station and visit.”


While she’ll miss the opportunity to help her students bond with their dissection subjects, Kirchner looks forward to the easy roads of retirement. “We’re having a first grandson in the family,” she happily reports. “I’ll spend time babysitting. We’ll be busy. I have a wedding in June.”


“Are you going to take us on vacation with you?“


“We’ll think about that,” she responds. “How about if I drive?” The students laugh.


Cheryl Kirchner will be honored at graduation before she passes through those doors for the last (official) time, though she jokes she will stubbornly stand at ease during any speeches. She says her former classmates were surprised to learn she was a teacher when she met them again at one of her first reunions. On the eve of her retirement, she has some advice for her younger self with that in mind, and we imagine she’d impart it to her students. “Stay out of trouble,” she says. “Things change, and for the best.”

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