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Denzel’s Digs: “I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was 11 years old”

For the past two decades, Roslyn Glattman-Hirsch has actively been a part of the Waukegan Public School district.  Whether teaching, mentoring, or being proactive in her students’ lives, she has dedicated her life to being here for her colleagues and the students. Effective May 30, however, Mrs. Hirsch is tendering her resignation. “I feel like it is time. I have spent 20 years in this district and it is time to move on to another life. I love the kids at Waukegan. I love Waukegan itself, and I think it’s a wonderful place, it’s just time,” says the House 7 Chemistry and Physics teacher.

Affectionately known to friends and colleagues as “Roz” and to students as “Ms. GH,” Mrs. Hirsch says her ultimate goal was to “win” with students by getting them to enjoy science, chemistry in particular. Jokingly, she continued, “I’ll probably be remembered for the fires, the things I almost electrocuted, the time I burned my hand among other things.”

Mrs. Hirsch has favorite memories: “I love graduations. When I see the students I had as freshmen, sophomores, and/or juniors… graduating, all dressed up and with their families, and they’re so proud of themselves, I feel like I had a little part to do with that. It is really rewarding and memorable. It makes me really happy and I enjoy that.”

Yet one thing she could leave behind, she said with a chuckle, is “this mess” pointing to her desk. “No seriously, I am leaving something behind: I am bequeathing Mrs. Pena [to WHS]. Few people know Mrs. Pena was my student teacher.  I tried to teach her everything I know, well … as much as I remember.  She opened up things to me, and I opened up things to her… The fact that she’s still here makes me not feel guilty that I am leaving.”

On the topic of regrets, she says, “There are times I made mistakes. Yes, there are the sad moments, but I focus on the good things like watching these kids grow up. There is such a big difference between a freshman and senior, it’s so amazing to be a part of that.”

The most touching moment of the interview was when I asked about her hopes for the future: “I hope to spend time with my grandkids. This job has been so time consuming, if this was a job I could be done with when I leave for the day, and have a regular life and get to see the people I want to see when I want to and travel when I want to would be great.”

Ms. Ellen Pena, Mrs. Hirsch’s best friend and fellow House 7 Chemistry teacher, says Mrs. Hirsch has had a positive effect on her career. In retrospect, she says her favorite memories of Mrs. Hirsch are “working together, setting up labs, especially developing lesson plans over dinners, in addition to a lot of shopping (for supplies) involved. We had a special camaraderie which I will definitely miss.”  She says she’ll miss Mrs. Hirsch is because “we worked together as a team and now half of my team is going to be gone. However I am glad that she will come back and sub for me from regularly!”

Current and former House 7 students and teachers took a moment to wish Mrs. Hirsch well in her future endeavors, share funny stories and reflected on their experiences with her–

Mr. John Franco: “Ms. Hirsch, congratulations on your retirement! I hope everything works out for you, don’t be a stranger, come and visit since I’ll be here for a few more years. Good luck and it’s been fun working with you!”

McKenzy Kelley, junior: Mrs. Hirsch and I had some good times together. We always had fun in her class. She was never boring and I learned some great things from her. She’s the reason I’m in AP Chemistry. The thing I’m going to miss most about her is her personality. She’s just a phenomenal person.”

Mrs. Carol Ricker: “Hey, Ms. GH, we’ll miss you in the mentoring program and I’m sorry I couldn’t make it over to the west side more often to see you.”

Annecia Grant, junior: “Mrs. Hirsch was always a great teacher. She was always willing to help and just generally a good person. I’ll miss always seeing a smile on her face. I’ll miss you, Mrs. Hirsch and I wish you all the best in life.”

Mrs. Stacey Hatchett: “Roz, I’m gonna miss you. I’m going to miss you asking me ‘How do you do that again’ as it relates to the technology. Good luck and best wishes!”

I’mani Sellers, senior: Mrs. Hirsch was always caring on a deeper than academic level. She was always making sure I was okay. She cared for me not just as a student, but as a person as well.”

Ms. Sarah Evens: “I’m going to miss you. We had the best team and we had so many good times. Have a great retirement.”

Diana Gallardo, senior: “I always had trouble in your class. Then again, I talked most of the time! However, you never said “no” when I asked for help. I’m glad I didn’t understand some of the material at times, because I got to spend time with a great teacher, but more importantly, a great person. Our class was the loudest, but also the closest. Thank you for a great sophomore year.”

Ms. Amy Clyne: “I wish you well on your retirement. I have enjoyed our math-science discussions over the years. I hope you enjoy the adventures that are ahead of you!”

Wesley Layug, senior: “My interest in Chemistry stems from Mrs. Hirsch. It was because of her class that I plan on studying Chemistry in college. I want to thank her for her wisdom and support, and I wish her all the best in retirement.”

Mrs. Robin Sidell: “Roz Hirsch, you were always the best and the brightest and a phenomenal science teacher. You did a great job explaining very complicated subjects, and I really appreciate being apart of your life. I love you.”

Eddie Cruz, senior: “Mrs. Hirsch, you’ve taught two Cruz brothers over the years and you left a lasting impression on both of them.  It’s sad to see you go, but know you will be missed. Chemistry was one of the most exhilarating classes that I took sophomore year.”

Mr. Erik Mennecke: “Happy retirement, Roz. It’s been awesome working on the (House 7 sophomore) team with you and I hope you come back and visit next year.”

Michelle Johnson, Freshman, Brown University: “Congratulations, Mrs. Hirsch, on your retirement! After many Mole Days and much time spent teaching the Periodic Table you deserve some rest and relaxation! Good luck with the future wherever it leads and know that you’ve made many students ThInK about science differently. Ps- ThInK is a pun, like the periodic table. I like to think I’m clever.”

Mr. Josh Bill: “Thank you for all your years of service and dedication to Waukegan Public Schools, I wish you a happy and healthy retirement!”

Cristin White, senior: “Mrs. Hirsch is a wonderful woman that dedicated her life to teach students. She is selfless, kind, silly, and young spirited. I wish her nothing but happiness in her years to come because she did her best to bring happiness to me, in and out of the classroom.”

Ms. Ali Schultz: “The first time I met Ms. GH, her lab coat was singed and covered with chemicals when she walked students to their next class after a little explosion in chemistry class. Her enthusiasm for her course [as she explained the explosion] is one of her most enduring qualities. She always has a kind word for students or for staff as well, and we will really miss her in House 7.”

Hwangchan Yu, junior: “Mrs. Hirsch is a great teacher and will always be remembered as one. Many people don’t really understand that being a chemistry teacher teaching physics in a short notice can be different. No matter how much I talked in her class, she always liked me for some reason. I know I’ll miss her and her jokes next year. I hope you will have fun, Mrs. Hirsch. You really earned this! I’ll miss you!”

Mr. Pat Cosgrove: There was never a dull moment having you around and I will miss being able to tease you! On a serious note, I always admired the way you interacted with students and how you never gave up when faced with difficult material.”

Mrs. Hirsch, I hope the kind words of your peers and current and former students shows you touched people lives in more than one way. You are truly loved by all that come in contact with you and on behalf of my classmates and teachers, we thank you for your service, your time, your patience, and your wisdom and we really and truly wish you all the best in your new life.  While Waukegan High School is losing a great teacher, the world is gaining a great person.

“When I was a kid, and wanted to learn something, I would teach myself by taking chalk and writing on my bedroom walls and kept writing until I knew it.”

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