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 third story is about Spanish Educator Karen Scharf, who is retiring after 25 years of service.
Karen Scharf ponders the question before giving her response – educational. That’s the word she says reflects her 25 years of teaching Spanish at Cardinal Gibbons.
The word carries weight because Karen, who is retiring in June, is a lifelong teacher and learner. From beekeeping and raising chickens, to practicing yoga and creating cosmetics, Karen’s list of interests to pursue and topics to explore keeps growing. Indeed, there are a few surprise additions to the list, including pro football and comic book enthusiast.
Her list of roles at Gibbons has also been diverse, ranging from yearbook adviser and department chair to yoga club moderator. Her love of Halloween - not to mention her costumes, from Mary Poppins and the Wicked Witch to Cruella de Vil - has become school legend. But in terms of a career, teaching was all she ever wanted to do and since 1993, Gibbons is where she has chosen to teach.
“I like watching my students grow, seeing them progress,” Karen says of her love of teaching. She particularly likes her junior students, who she describes as “a hoot and a half.” As for choosing Gibbons, her reason is simple. When she visited the school, then at the Western Blvd. campus, for the first time, “it felt like home and the people were so welcoming, so kind, just like a family,” she says. That feeling was firmly and indelibly cemented the following year, when Gibbons welcomed the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, NY.
Now, looking back on her teaching career, there are some life lessons Karen will take with her. “I have learned so much from my students and colleagues and, in turn, I have become a smarter and better person,” she says her voice filling with emotion. “And I hope they will remember my kindness and congeniality.”
Her colleagues return the compliment. Just ask World Language Chair Nancy Beale, who has worked with Karen for the last 16 years. “Karen is an organized, thorough, master teacher,” says Nancy. “She is confident in her ability as a teacher and knows her subject well. Students at Cardinal Gibbons have benefitted from her expertise and compassion.”
Karen is both excited and nervous about retirement. She plans on spending time with her family, pursuing her interests, and yet again revealing her inner educator, tutoring students in Spanish. “I love the one-on-one interaction,” she notes.
The time she likely will feel the effect of retirement is August, when everybody else is returning to school, Karen says. But the feeling may be short-lived since she is thinking of coming back to Gibbons to substitute teach.
So Karen, this is not goodbye, but rather see you later; or as they say in Spanish ¡Hasta luego Sra. Scharf!
Read stories about our other retiring educators