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The social studies teacher began her career as a long-term substitute and never left.

Daywalt set to retire after 30 dedicated years at North Penn

Suzanne Daywalt. Photo by Riley Roach | The Knight Crier.

  • Schools

After spending 30 years making history at North Penn High School, social studies teacher Ms. Suzanne Daywalt has announced her retirement. The high school has been lucky enough to have her over the years and hired her after her unconventional start to teaching.

“I started here in January of 1994 as a long-term sub and I never left,” Daywalt said. “The teacher was a social studies teacher who opted to leave midway through the year and they had a few other long-term subs in the position, and they were not working out. I came in as I believe the third long-term sub, and I finished out the year as a temporary employee. I did get offered the position, so my official start date was in September of ‘94.”

Daywalt was offered the position after an interview process following her substitute position. It was an interview that she will never forget.

“I remember in the interview they said something along the lines of, ‘Well if you don’t get the job, we would like to have you back as a sub,’ and I was like, ‘If I don’t get the job I’m not coming back as a sub. I worked really hard to pick up and finish the year with six classes, either you are going to hire me because you see my value and merits, or I’m going to go somewhere else,’” Daywalt said.

She recalled the hard work she put into her students that year paid off and helped ease the stress of constantly changing teachers.

“It was a chaotic year for them, they had had several teachers. (English teacher) Mr. (Kevin) Manero was in that class, as was (new district Athletic Director) Mr. (Kyle)Berger. I had been in several classes but had both of them that year,” Daywalt said.

When the chaotic year passed, Daywalt was able to become a full-time teacher for many years to come. One interesting thing about her career that she noticed was the change in the types of kids the pandemic had created.

“It’s interesting because I have taught all levels of kids and I rarely had discipline problems in the classroom over 30 years. For me, what has become most challenging is keeping students engaged and I realized that I taught 14 years without cell phones. There were no cell phones until 2008. I went from ‘94 to ‘08 without cell phones and it was a lot easier to keep students engaged without the distractions of cell phones. You know we had shared laptop computers so students didn’t even have personal devices which they can also get distracted on,” Daywalt said. “Cell phones and COVID-19 have made it extremely difficult for students to engage. COVID in my opinion has sent students more inward, and they don’t engage with one another or me in anywhere near the fashion that they used to. It has become more difficult.”

Even though it has become difficult for teachers to bond with their students, Daywalt is hopeful that the openness will come back to the classrooms of North Penn.

“I hope that group skills come back, and that openness comes back because I believe that is one of the most valuable things you can know how to do in life. Communicate with others, engage with others, look at someone and have a conversation with them while being comfortable, show excitement and enthusiasm,” Daywalt said.

From being a cheerleading coach to club advisor to class advisor, Daywalt has done it all. Aside from all the chaos of being a teacher and seeing so many students each day, the things Daywalt will miss are the most simple parts of her day-to-day activities.

“I will miss the give and take with my students when my door is shut, and it’s just my students and me, and I see them actually getting interested in what I’m selling here. Those moments I will miss a lot. But I will truly miss my colleagues. I have been with some of them for three decades through every milestone of my life, through every milestone of their lives,” Daywalt said. “There are some really wonderful adults in this building that I will miss terribly, I really will.”

Aside from the emotional parts of retirement, Daywalt shows a positive outlook toward the future.

“I am excited. A whole new adventure awaits, and I will continue working in some capacity. I have a couple of ideas for some fun things that I want to try. I have always been a jack of all trades and teaching was my fourth career. I get to decide what I want to do next. I’m retiring from teaching, not retiring from life,” Daywalt said.

Monday, June 24, 2024


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