Bill Harris, Bobbie Nabor, Ann O’Neill, Sharon Shatkus, and Joe Stuart.
Thursday, May 24, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In the Sears Gallery, Elgin Academy
Students, parents, faculty, trustees, alumni, and friends welcome.
Retirees Leave a Legacy of Achievement
When Ann O’Neill, Sharon Shatkus, Bill Harris, Roberta Nabor, and Joe Stuart retire at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, they will have collectively worked at Elgin Academy for 114 years. We will miss their meaningful contributions to our community, as they are all integral parts of the Elgin Academy we love. While we will miss them, we are happy for them as they gleefully anticipate retirement after such lengthy careers in education.
For nineteen years, Ann has been a mainstay in the Upper School Mathematics Department, although her teaching tenure here was not consecutive. She taught in the Upper School for three years in the 1980s, but after earning an MBA from Northern Illinois Unversity, she left EA thinking that she would be fulfilled by a career in the business world. It wasn’t long before she realized that her heart was with education and specifically, with students. She was delighted to be able to return to teaching math at Elgin Academy in 2002.
Over the years, Ann has taught just about every math course EA offers, although in more recent years, she has predominantly taught Algebra II, Advanced Placement Calculus AB, and Advanced Topics in Mathematics and Calculus. In these challenging courses, Ann has created meaningful mathematical experiences for students to encourage critical thinking, foster creative reasoning, and enhance problem-solving abilities.
Ann‘s conscientious and thoughtful approach to her role as Upper School Advisor has served many students and their families well over the years. Her advisory letters have offered useful insights into student behavior and allow for purposeful goal setting.
Ann has always been fully engaged in myriad Upper School activities. Numerous Worldwide Youth in Science & Engineering (WYSE) teams have earned trophies at regional, sectional, and state levels under her guidance. She has supervised various Trip Week ventures, chaperoned many dances and proms, and cheered from the stands for a plethora of Hilltopper athletes. She currently co-sponsors the Senior Class, and oversees the Dough Gooders Charity Baking Club and Soup Kitchen volunteers.
After 22 years of fielding telephone calls and questions from parents and students, putting band-aids on skinned knees, booking Learning Plan Conferences, keeping orderly records, and just generally being an enthusiastic cheerleader for all things Elgin Academy, Middle School Administrative Assistant Sharon Shatkus is retiring.
Early in her career, Sharon taught first grade in Community District 54 at Thomas Dooley School in Schaumburg but gave up her job when she married her principal, Bill Shatkus. Sharon and Bill raised three daughters, Lisa, Lynn, and Laura. When Sharon was ready to return to work, she worked as Resident Manager of Blackhawk Apartments in Elgin. For the next eighteen years, Sharon connected with scores of residents – some who were Elgin Academy teachers and alumni. When the position of Middle School secretary opened in 1996, Sharon, aware of the reputation of the school, eagerly applied. She was delighted to be able to return to a job where she would once again be back in the field of education with teachers and students.
Sharon Fitzgerald Shatkus, Irish to the core, was born at high noon on St. Patrick’s Day. For years, EA students and families have come to expect that on March 17th the middle school office will be overflowing with shamrocks and leprechauns, and Sharon—dressed from head to toe in green—will be holding court at her desk and receiving birthday wishes.
Sharon says she will miss watching middle school students mature into confident high school students who go on to college and careers and eventually become responsible young adults. She will miss her 10,000 plus daily steps around campus, her “amazing boss and faculty,” and “wonderful families who create EA’s special community.” She looks forward to sleeping past 5:30 a.m., lunching with her closest friends who have waited years for her to retire, and sharing coast-to-coast road trips with her husband who won’t fly. She can’t wait to spend more time with her daughters and their families, especially as step-grandma to Maddie and Wesley and aunt to Colin, Lochlan, Tim, and Becca. During basketball season, you will find her before the television rooting for her alma mater, the University of Dayton Flyers.
Bill has been a stalwart figure in the school’s history for many years — June will mark the end of his 25th year teaching seventh and eighth-grade science here at Elgin Academy. A graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Bill taught science at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland before joining the faculty at Elgin Academy. While at EA Bill has also taught Middle School Physical Education, been a dedicated advisor, chaperoned numerous field trips and trip week treks to various destinations, and coached Middle School basketball and Upper School track.
Bill has excelled at devising experiences that keep his students actively engaged. Students will remember springtime field trips to Lord's Park to collect water samples and lessons on electricity that culminated with building and testing circuit boards. They will recall building windmills as part of a study on alternative energy and learning principles of engineering by building bridges with toy construction sets. Bill hopes his students will remember the safety habits they learned in his class and that good scientific writing uses clear and direct language.
While at EA, he has appreciated the easy camaraderie in the middle school among faculty members and between the students and faculty. He says he honed his teaching skills by following the positive examples of colleagues and incorporating their techniques into his teaching style. Bill is known for his no-nonsense personality, but all who know him realize that underneath that gruff exterior lies a soft heart for students.
Bill has no immediate plans for retirement beyond relaxing and taking it easy. A native of Pittsburgh, he thinks about possibly moving back east and buying some land.
Roberta Nabor, known to her colleagues and friends as Bobbie, is retiring after 31 years at Elgin Academy. Her teaching assignments have predominantly included Biology, Advanced Placement Biology, and Environmental Science. She has consistently planned meaningful lab experiences for students and arranged for countless field trips to further student learning. For years, she has incubated and hatched chickens in her classroom as a fun way to teach about embryonic development. Similarly, she has raised finches in the vivarium as an enjoyable means to acquaint students with animal behavior. She and her students have waded in tributaries of the Fox River to study physical, chemical, and biological monitoring techniques and protocols. With many a budding medical student, she has commiserated about the difficulties of the AP Biology curriculum and has helped those students achieve success in class. And of course, all her students can likely recall frog or fetal pig dissection under her tutelage.
Bobbie has been a valuable contributor to student life in the Upper School. As an advisor, she has been an advocate and mentor to scores of students regarding academic and social issues, and she has proactively invested her time in her advisees and their families. She has written a plethora of letters of recommendation for Seniors to assist in their college searches. In her role as Senior Class sponsor, she has facilitated and chaperoned a great many Homecoming dances, donned her finery to attend prom every year, and organized numerous Honors Convocations and Baccalaureate dinners.
Bobbie has always understood that a teacher’s role doesn’t end when the bell tolls at 2:45 p.m. She is almost always in the audience when our thespians and vocalists perform, and she is likely to be in the stands when our athletes take the field or court. For years, she has gamely accompanied our upper schoolers on trip week ventures to Canada, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Virginia, and Minnesota.
Elgin Academy has benefited from Bobbie’s leadership. She is Chairperson of the Science Department, and she has represented our school several times on ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States) accreditation teams. This latter role allowed her to observe science classrooms at other independent schools and Bobbie fine-tuned her own teaching practices based on these observations. For years, she has volunteered to spend a week in the summer scoring AP Biology exams for the College Board so she could better assess her students’ work and make adjustments to her teaching.
Bobbie, who holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Northeastern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Science from Western Illinois University, considers herself a lifelong learner and is unlikely to stay idle in retirement. Come June, we predict she will be arranging field trips for her grandchildren and engaging them in science experiments.
Bobbie would like her students and their families to know that she will truly miss them. She says she will also miss seeing our alumni when they return to campus and she will miss her daily interactions with her colleagues.
Joe Stuart is retiring after 37 years as an Upper School Visual Arts teacher. He is one of those unique teachers who help students look inside themselves to see what is within and build on it. Joe understands that with art the focus is on the process, not the product. Under his tutelage, hundreds Of EA students have discovered that they are painters, sculptors, potters, illustrators, animators, and designers. Several of his students have gone on to become professional artists.
Joe has been a true pillar at Elgin Academy. He has served on numerous Upper School committees and served as Chair of the Fine Arts Department, always striving to strengthen the Academy for students and faculty alike. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he has been a dedicated advisor, patiently giving his time to advisees and their families. He has written scores of thoughtful college letters of recommendation. He has given up many a Saturday and evening to build sets for EA theatre productions. He sponsors the Art for a Cause Club whereby artistic creations by students benefit a charitable cause. Joe showed his lighthearted side when he created the Lumberjack Club for students interested in eating breakfast together before school while wearing plaid shirts.
Joe loves the outdoors and always made it a personal goal to share outdoor experiences with students. Long before there was Trip Week, Joe was taking students camping in the summer or during breaks at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana or along the Wisconsin River. In fact, Joe’s camping expeditions were so popular that former Head of School Selden Edwards and Upper School Dean Jim Lyons decided that all students could benefit from outdoor experiences. This lead to the creation of Trip Week. Over the years, Joe consistently took part in the most rugged of class trips to wilderness destinations in Canada, Wisconsin, and Montana. He taught many a student how to paddle a canoe and put out a campfire.
Joe trained in his craft at Northern Illinois University where he earned a B.S. and an M.A. in Visual Arts. Joe wants his students to know the practical skills and theory of various art forms and their history. To convey that history, Joe has consistently taken his classes to visit the Art Institute in Chicago and other museums. He has occasionally supplemented these official class field trips with additional excursions over the summer or during school breaks. Mineral Point, an art colony in Wisconsin, has been a favorite destination to give more serious art students an awareness of the lifestyle of working artists and to let students see actual artists at work.
Joe has always been a working artist, continuing to learn and grow through the process of creating. It has not been uncommon to see Joe painting or sketching alongside students as a way to demonstrate the techniques of artistic expression.
As a retiree, Joe is looking forward to relaxing and indulging in his passion for painting landscapes en plein air or “in the open air” and having more time to spend with daughters Emily ‘03 and Cate ‘11.