by Martha Quetsch
KANELANDâ€”The longstanding Young Authors program for K-8 Kaneland students owed its start to teacher Barb Romack, who is retiring after 37 years with the district.
Romack has been a fourth-grade teacher at John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn for more than 10 years, and is one of 12 district teachers who are retiring in June.
Through the Young Authors program, Romack encouraged hundreds of Kaneland students to write their own books.
â€œAt one time, she had all of the sixth grade writing,â€ said Barb Landis, who teaches sixth grade at Harter Middle School.
Romack read every one of the books students wrote, choosing the winning works each year and awarding ribbons to all participants.
â€œI look for original, quality work,â€ said Romack.
Romack said she was pleased that one student actually wrote a book each year from kindergarten through eighth grade. She added another past participant now is a published author, and many others have continued to write.
Reading is Romack’s passion, and she plans to spend more time doing it after retiring from teaching.
â€œI have a lot to catch up on,â€ Romack said.
She also will spend some time visiting her grandsons in Utah, and will continue working for the Education Department at Fermilab, where she co-teaches a class in particle physics for middle school teachers each summer.
Romack began work in Kaneland in 1973, teaching third grade at Kaneville Elementary School. About 10 years later she became gifted-program teacher and coordinator for K-12. Seven years later, she returned to the regular classroom, teaching fourth grade for the next two decades.
What she expects to miss most about her teaching years with Kaneland are the “Oh, I get it now” or “Oh, yeah” moments from students, as well as the time with her former colleagues.
â€œI’m sure there will be a period of adjustment since I won’t be planning everything else in my life around teaching,â€ Romack said. â€œI think I’m ready to begin a new phase in my life-who knows where it will lead.â€
More than 30 years at Kaneland
Following are the employees who have been with the Kaneland the longest from among this year’s 12 retiring district teachers:
Barb Romack 4th grade John Stewart 37 yrs.
Patrick Sheetz 7th grade science 35 yrs.
Suzanne Girsch 4th grade John Stewart 34 yrs.
Rick Dalton middle school P.E. 33 yrs.
Photo: Retiring John Stewart Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Barb Romack has served in many roles during her more than three decades with the Kaneland School District. Those included coordinating the Young Authors program, after-school science programs and Starlab presentations. Photo by Martha Quetsch