Broadalbin-Perth gives its congratulations and best wishes to four of its educators who are retiring this year: Middle school art teacher Katherine Quackenbush-Blair, TLC special education/AIS math teacher Eileen Sack, middle school ELA teacher Eric Sengenberger and TLC literacy specialist Sandy Sullivan.
Combined, these teachers have 114 years of experience in education, with most of those years at B-P.
Katherine Quackenbush-Blair, middle school art teacher
Q, as she is lovingly known, has been teaching at B-P for 31 years. In retirement, she’s looking forward to spending more time with her husband, volunteering to help people in need, and living seasonally in Florida.
“I’ll miss watching the kids get what I’m teaching them, and that ‘Aha!’ moment,” she said. “I’ll miss hearing them say, ‘This was the best piece of artwork I’ve done in my whole life,’ or, ‘I never liked art before this.’
Q remembers walking into her classroom for the first time, when the trees outside her window were “this big,” she said, gesturing. “I remember looking outside the window, seeing deer looking back at me, and saying, ‘This is my art room. This is where I’m supposed to be.’
It’s a place where many students not only found creative inspiration, but also came to expect Q’s comfort and care. During the interview for this story, a student in need turned to her and found the encouragement and warm coat that they needed.
“I definitely did what I set out to do,” she said. “I’ll miss knowing I make a difference in kids’ lives, even if it’s just one.”
Eileen Sack, TLC special education & AIS math teacher
Eileen Sack has worked at B-P for 18 years, and has 23 years of teaching under her belt. In retirement, she and her husband will enjoy spending more time together at their home in Maine.
“Ever since I was 15, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “Both of my parents were teachers. I was inspired by a movie about a special education classroom, and I knew that was the place for me.”
Sack says she will miss the students, their smiles and their stories the most. The feeling is clearly mutual. When she asked if students could be in her picture for this story, some of the children cried when learning what the story was about.
“Working in small groups and in 1-1 situations, you develop very close connections with the kids,” she said.
Sack said there were too many memories to narrow down her favorite about her time at B-P.
“There have been so many special moments over the years,” she said.
Eric Sengenberger, middle school ELA teacher
Eric Sengenberger has taught at B-P for 30 years. A native of Rotterdam, he had never heard of Broadalbin or Perth three decades ago, but now it is his home. In retirement, he looks forward to golfing, learning to play guitar, and waiting for his wife Cindy, who is also a B-P teacher, to retire.
“I’m still in love with teaching, but I’d rather go a year too early than a year too late,” he said. “I’ll miss working with my wife Cindy! Working side by side and sharing many of the same students has been a great experience.”
His favorite thing about B-P is the number of alumni who come back to teach. A dozen of his colleagues are also his former students.
In his youth, Sengenberger had never considered being a teacher. After getting a degree in advertising and working briefly as an ad executive, he got a job coaching. Someone told him if he loved coaching, he’d probably love teaching. He got his degree, got the gig at B-P and never looked back.
“I think that’s a good message for kids,” he said. “They might think they know what they want to do, but you never really know what direction you will head in.”
Sandy Sullivan, TLC literacy specialist
Sandy Sullivan has worked at B-P for 30 years. In retirement, she looks forward to spending time at her lake house and expects to live seasonally in Florida.
After working as a teaching assistant for the first four years of her career, Sullivan went back to school to get her degree to be a teacher.
“I always wanted to be like my aunt and grandma, who were teachers, and my mom, who was a secretary,” she said. “After being a TA, I knew I wanted to be a teacher.”
“I will miss the kids and my colleagues,” she said. “I was raised in the community and I live here now, so it’s truly like a family and it’s hard to leave your family.”
Sullivan said her favorite memories of being a teacher include the experience of reading with a graduating senior the same book that they had read together when he was in third grade, and the only Thanksgiving feast she had in class with her students. She remembers a grandfather of one of the students had carved an enormous turkey at the head of the long table that day.
On the day she was interviewed for this story, Sullivan was volunteering at the intermediate school’s Wellness Day event.
“It’s neat to see the kids after they leave TLC because we don’t get to see them that much after we give them away,” she said. “I tried to be involved as much as I could.”