Sansone prepares for retirement and maps out her future

Julia Kuhn, bear facts features writer

 

After 23 years of teaching at LZHS, Gerry Sansone, Social Studies teacher, is getting ready to leave the students and faculty of the high school.

 

“The decision to leave a position that you really enjoy is never easy, however, sometimes you know when other events need some attention as well,” Sansone said.

 

Even though Sansone recognizes the need to retire this year, she says she has enjoyed every day of her lengthy career teaching social studies and being involved with the high school community. Sansone said her favorite memories from being a teacher mostly involve her making connections and spending time with all of the students, either inside the classroom or during extracurricular activities.

 

“Students bring the greatest memories; every year features its own stars. In the earlier years, the homecoming activities included building enormous class floats a week before the parade. Those evenings spent building floats always brought laughs,” Sansone said. “Working with the various National Honor Society officers and members on service projects is a wonderful memory as well, especially the day we deliver the collected books to the Cooper Dual Language Academy. And, yearly, Latin American Studies students visited the National Museum of Mexican Art for the Day of the Dead. Making the trek to Pilsen, having lunch, seeing a different Chicago neighborhood, and learning about another culture was special. Plus, receiving email from former students who have moved on and keep in touch, that’s great, too.”

 

Sansone started teaching at LZHS in 1989 because of her desire to make meaningful connections with students and share information with students in new ways. Before becoming a teacher, she worked in the retail and travel industries.

 

“I started teaching later in life, so I had the opportunity to try other careers. I wanted connections with students that are not available in other careers. I admired teachers, I like new knowledge, and I wanted to share it with students in new ways,” Sansone said. “Honestly, being able to share in this profession for as long as I have was a true gift in my life, and the best part is that it just keeps giving to you. As long as students thrive and you connect, the excitement of the gift goes on and on. It’s been the best gift.”

 

Although Sansone has taught different classes over the years, she currently teaches World History in the World Cultures class, Sociology, Latin American Studies, and World Affairs. Sansone said she helped create the course of World Cultures because she believed that the works of classical literature have more meaning for students when studied in historical context. World Cultures pairs history lessons with literature from the same time period.

 

“From the start, I really saw the need to allow students to connect events in history to the adventures of their English literature. It seemed a natural connection, and it worked. Absolutely awesome students and awesome teaching partners made this the best World History/English class,” Sansone said. “Ms. Chorney is my latest and super creative co-teacher, and just being able to plan classes with her and share those classes with our wonderful students and learn and laugh together make it the best.”

 

In addition to developing the class of World Cultures, Sansone also helped create the Latin American Studies course. She said that Latin America has always interested her because of the history and culture of the region. Latin American Studies allows Sansone to share her passion with students as well as challenging her to create new lesson plans for the class, since history is always changing.

 

“Latin American Studies allows students to learn about the rich and diverse culture and history of Latin America, and I truly loved working with those students and developing new lessons to share every semester,” Sansone said. “The students expressed their interests and we developed learning opportunities based on those interests. Plus, I love all of the culture and history of Latin America, so preparing for this class was natural. History changes, so we always had new lessons to explore. And of course, technology changed the way we could learn, so the world really opened up for all of us.”

 

After being a social studies teacher at LZHS for over two decades, Sansone said there are various aspects of being a teacher that she will miss when she retires, including working with her students and teachers on a daily basis and being a sponsor for NHS and other extracurricular activities at the high school.

 

“[I will miss] meeting new students on the first day of every semester and seeing students grow as the semester and year progresses. Of course, I will just miss LZHS in all of its forms, seeing the student body grow and change through these years, and move into the future,” Sansone said. “It’s not just teaching that I will miss, but teaching here. And in reality, you never really stop teaching; it will just take on a new format. I will miss the teachers too, of course, because we all share the same passion for making learning last a lifetime.”