At the end of this school year, just a couple of short weeks from today, Kathy Sherwood will be stepping into retirement.
Kathy has been planning this moment for a while as she has gradually let go of some of her responsibilities over the last three years. And even though we have known for a long time that this time was coming, it is still hard to say goodbye to such a long-time and much-loved teacher and administrator at our school.
Kathy was our preschool and elementary P.E. teacher for 17 years, until she passed the torch to her friend and mentee Lindsey Hilliard three years ago. Over the years, Kathy has been director of our summer programs, she has been a teacher assistant in the preschool, she has directed our AfterCare and enrichment programs, overseen the school’s gatherings, managed all of our big celebrations, created all of our class and specialist schedules each year, substituted in every one of our classrooms, and taught in our Teacher Preparation Program. She is a parent to two Friends’ graduates, and still plays an active role with many of our alumni students. It leads me to wonder if there’s any part of Friends’ School, or anyone at Friends’ School, that Kathy has not impacted. I think not!
Kathy has also been a Special Olympics Director and Coach, a high school P.E. teacher and Gymnastics coach, an Adapted Physical Education District Consultant, a Fitness Trainer for Special Populations, she taught Adapted P.E. undergraduate classes at CU and she owned a preschool and children’s center for 10 years. She has quite a resumé!
Back in October 1997, when her son David was three years old and her daughter Jenny was nine, Kathy agreed to fill in for a recently departed P.E. teacher for three months. Twenty years later, we are finally saying goodbye!
David graduates this month from MIT, top of his class, with a double major in Aeronautics and Finance, having just received an award in New York as one of the most accomplished aeronautics student in the nation. Jenny is completing her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. She conducts research with The American Foundation for AIDS Research and has just returned from Bangkok where she is still working on a project to prevent violence against women who have been sex trafficked. Jenny and David are both Friends’ School graduates.
Kathy was instrumental in creating and developing the amazing P.E. program that our kids love today. From the very start, she has always been more interested in helping our students to learn life skills that they will need to succeed, more than specific athletic skills. Kathy designed a P.E. program that focused intentionally on the social and emotional skills that children need to thrive: team-building, leadership, good sportsmanship, helping others, and more.
She was the first to bring in the circus program to Friends’ and invented the now legendary Scooter Board City. (Please see this 2012 article for more details.) Her goals have always been to support kids to speak with, rather than at, each other and to learn how to show good sportsmanship on and off the field, to challenge themselves, to solve problems creatively, and to love physical activity.
I do have a sneaking suspicion that this is au revoir not adieu, as Kathy has shared that, as much as she is looking forward to retirement and travel, she can’t quite cut the ties to the school that has been her family’s home for the past twenty years. We may see her in our buildings as a substitute teacher, and she may still help us out as we prepare for next year’s summer programs.
Thank you, Kathy, for all the love and laughter of the last two decades, and for helping us grow our kids into better people. We are very grateful and we will miss you.