Three beloved teachers retire this year

By: Olivia Martin

Three beloved teachers are retiring this year: English teacher Diane Flaherty, orchestra teacher Scott Hall and family and consumer science teacher. Gayle Bruene have all made lasting impacts on Cedar Falls High School.

Flaherty, whose teaching career has spanned 35 to 40 years, has been teaching at Cedar Falls for at least 20 years. “She is the queen,” counselor Mrs. Langan said. “Mrs. Flaherty is very reliable and will do anything she can to help out her students.”

Senior Ilsa Knivsland said, “Mrs. Flaherty has a wonderful way of connecting to students and a great laugh.” Anyone in the high school who has had Flaherty as a teacher knows that she pushes her students, but also leaves room for laughter. “Teaching is who I am,” Flaherty said.

She has many fond memories of her years at Cedar Falls. “One time, there was an all-school assembly, and they asked the teachers to come down and dance. Susan Langan gave me a hip bump, and I went flying across the gym floor in front of the whole student body!” she recounted, laughing. “One of the other faculty members was laughing so hard he had to stand against the wall, and he was sliding down it.”

Flaherty said that a trip to Washington, D.C., with a student is another standout memory. She also recalled a program that Cedar Falls used to have called RAMP that helped to raise students’ standardized test scores. “We, as teachers, helped to raise them a lot,” she said, remembering how positive the experience was.

But for Flaherty, the best moments are the simplest ones: what she likes to call “aha moments.” “When I see a kid struggling or a student that has no idea what they’re capable of, and when they realize how capable they actually are, it’s like ahhhh,” she said.

Flaherty was quick to say that she will not miss grading papers, yet, for Flaherty, her retirement is bittersweet. “I will really miss just being with the kids,” Flaherty said, as she wiped away a tear. “There’s so much goodness in you guys. I will miss being a part of that every day.” Flaherty also said that she will miss snow days because “they’re unexpected.”

After she retires, Flaherty plans to “not grade one paper!” She also said she is excited to have more time so that she will “be able to read a book that’s not school oriented!”

Hall is another teacher retiring this year. As the director of the CFHS and Holmes Junior High orchestras, he has taught at the high school for 16 years and led many musicians to division one ratings at various contests in Iowa.

One highlight in Hall’s years of teaching is when the orchestra goes on their tri-annual cruise trip to the Bahamas over spring break. “The cruises are always fun, and the students really become a team,” he said. Along with the always enjoyable cruise trip, Hall will also miss the daily presence of his students and especially their “wonderful personalities.”

Senior Allie Taiber has had Hall as a director since eighth grade. “Mr. Hall has been a fantastic leader for our orchestra. His dedication to the program is amazing. He will definitely be missed next year,” she said.

Hall, who has a passion for music, said he feels privileged to have a job that surrounds him with music every day. “The importance of music in young students’ lives is so important,” he said. “Music is a part of all of our lives. It is integrated into all of our lives whether we play it or listen to it. That’s why I feel so good about being a teacher of music. It’s amazing that I’ve been able to do this.”

Throughout the years, Hall said that teaching has really impacted him as a person. “I think it’s helped me be more considerate and understanding and kind. Being a teacher has made me a better person.”

Hall said he is definitely sad to leave his orchestra, but he felt it was time for him to move on. He sees a bright future ahead for the CFHS orchestra. “I hope that the orchestra will continue to be just as strong or even better,” he said.

Bruene is another devoted staff member retiring this year. She started her teaching career in 1976 and has taught at the high school for 24 memorable years, especially those from her food/nutrition class. Some of the most unusual things that happened include sink faucets exploding and students almost setting objects on fire, but, of course, not everything in foods class ends in flooding or flames. For Bruene, a highlight of the class is when students get to invite guests to eat the meal they have prepared. She said that she likes seeing how the students are proud of what they made as well as the fun of having people come into the classroom, but Bruene’s favorite thing about teaching is what she does everyday: “I just love working with my students,” she said.

Along with teaching, Bruene has been very involved with dance and cheer. She has been coaching dance team since 1995. “I have a lot of great memories from dance team,” she said. Bruene has thoroughly enjoyed being an adviser to both the girls and boys dance teams.

Senior Sommer Danielsen and captain of the dance team has worked with Bruene year-round since she was a freshman.

“Mrs. Bruene is the mother hen of the dance team. She always makes sure we have what we need, and she is very committed to making the team what it is today,” she said.

Unlike most teachers, Bruene has never truly had a summer off. During her summers, she is still heavily involved with either coaching dance team or running the concessions for baseball and softball games at Robinson-Dresser. She is happy to have a more relaxed summer for a change.

Reflecting on her years at Cedar Falls High School, Bruene considers herself very lucky. “Cedar Falls has been a great place to work,” she said. “Great people, great students, great everything.”

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