Pyle English department chair Celia Harper will retire at the end of the school year, ending her 43-year teaching career.
Harper taught both seventh and eighth grade and has been head of the English department at Pyle for 24 years. She also spearheaded the introduction of Pyle’s Shakespeare program, which includes acting clinics by professionals.
“It’s so strange to retire, I’ve been teaching for 43 years, and teaching has been a large part of my identity,” she said. “I taught longer than I ever thought I would, but I never got tired of it.”
Seventh-grade teacher Sandra Gallagher will take over as the English department head after Harper’s retirement. Harper leaves big shoes to fill, she said.
“She runs a department of 25 teachers, but she still loves teaching the kids so much,” Gallagher said. “She’s always willing to take on new things, like technology, faster than a lot of us.”
Students said they appreciate Harper’s love for English. They also enjoy the thought-provoking atmosphere she creates in the classroom.
“Her passion for teaching really translated to her students and made me enjoy reading the books she assigned,” sophomore Andrew Barth said.
Harper also prepared students for higher level English classes in high school by assigning challenging assignments and projects, eighth grader Danny Mills said.
After her retirement, Harper said she plans to travel and visit family in Europe, and to spend more time outside walking and gardening, she said. She also hopes to continue her passion for reading.
“I love to read, and the idea of reading without having to teach it to fourteen-year-olds is really nice,” she said.
Gallagher will take over as the English department this summer, when new curriculum is planned to arrive from the county for seventh and eighth grade. She will immediately start integrating the new curriculum into the English department and has been guided well into her new position, she said.
“Harper has been a great teacher for me,” Gallagher said. “She has been the head of the English department for the 23 years since I got here, so she is all that I know.”