Editor’s Note – Five longtime classroom and office educators will retire from Cardinal Gibbons next month. We thank them for their dedication and the impact they have each made on the lives of our students and on the entire school community. We wish them the best as they start a new journey in their lives. For each of the next five days, we will post a story about one of our retiring educators. Our first story is about English Educator Catherine Sokash, who is retiring after 35 years of service.
Fast. That’s how Catherine Sokash describes her 35 years of teaching English at Cardinal Gibbons. She will, however, leave a lasting imprint on students and colleagues alike when she retires next month.
By a conservative estimate, she has taught over 1,000 students, inspiring them to love literature and coaching them on what it takes to succeed as a writer. To many, she is the consummate educator.
In a way, she was destined to teach. Her father, sister, aunt, and uncle all chose teaching as a career. Catherine, who loved sharing ideas and her passion for books, followed suit. Once she stepped in front of a classroom she never looked back, and once she came to Cardinal Gibbons in 1983 she never left.
“I wanted to teach and wanted to teach in a Catholic school,” says Catherine. And when she interviewed for her job at Gibbons, then located on Western Blvd, she quickly felt comfortable, welcomed, and at home – a feeling that has enveloped her throughout her time at Gibbons.
“Every year I am excited about the students I am honored to teach, and about what and how I will teach, she notes and adds, where else can I teach about God and religion …”
Over the years she has watched the school, which relocated to Edwards Mill Rd, prosper and grow, as well as see her son graduate in 2005. Along the way she says she also grew as a person and an educator, taking on various roles from yearbook and mock trial moderator to junior class advisor and student council co-moderator. She says her students have exposed her to different ideas and perspectives about books and for that she is forever grateful.
For the last 24 years she has also been chair of the department, guiding fellow educators through first-day jitters and final good-byes. She says she has learned much from her colleagues, many of whom she calls friends.
“Working with Catherine has been nothing short of wonderful, for you will surely never meet a more encouraging, thoughtful, and loving soul, who is ready and willing to listen, inspire, support, and guide you.,” notes English Educator Amy Rokita, who has worked with Catherine for 12 years. “As my roommate, we share our beloved space in room 104, and if those walls could talk. . .well. I love her style, her wit, and most of all I love her love of teaching.”
Asked to talk about her legacy, she grows nostalgic. “I want people, especially students,” she says, “to know that I worked hard and tirelessly so they could achieve what they needed to achieve to be successful beyond high school.”
After 35 years, adds Catherine, “I cannot leave Gibbons without it leaving its mark on me.”