Even as a child, Rosie Olszewski never had any doubt she would one day become a teacher. She never even considered another profession.
“I remember my mom and dad bought me a blackboard, and I used to pretend,” Olszewski said as she reminisced on when her passion for teaching began. “I’d take my little brother and make him sit down. It’s something that I always wanted to be. ... I never really thought of any other career, truthfully. I always wanted to be a teacher.”
And she did. For 39 years, Olszewski served as a high-school English teacher before her retirement on June 8. She taught 10th-grade English at West Orange High School for three years and then spent 24 years at Dr. Philips High School.
After earning her bachelor’s in language arts from Bowling Green State University, Olszewski began her career in 1971 at Maples Heights High School in Ohio. After teaching there for seven years, she and her husband moved to Florida where she earned a master’s degree in education from Stetson University.
“Well, in total I taught for 39 years,” Olszewski said as she chuckled and explained why she decided to retire. “So, I mean, you get to a certain point. It was just time for me to retire. I love the kids. I’m going to miss my students, but, you know, it’s about time to go on to another phase of my life.”
Her favorite part of her teaching career was her time spent teaching in Dr. Philips High School’s Center for International Studies magnet program. There, she was able to venture with her students to numerous countries, such as Germany, Spain Ireland, and England among others.
For Olszewski, one of the most challenging aspects of teaching was catering to the needs of a variety of students with different learning modes.
It’s something that I always wanted to be. ... I never really thought of any other career, truthfully. I always wanted to be a teacher.”
— Rosie Olszewski
“Trying to meet everyone’s needs — that’s the challenge, because you have students who catch on very quickly and you have some (who) struggle,” Olszewski said. “So you have to make sure that everybody comes out on top.”
Now that Olszewski will have more time on her hands, she plans to continue doing volunteer work, traveling and spending time with her grandchildren. She also looks forward to reading all the books she didn’t quite find the time to read before as most of her reading time was dedicated to reading classics for her course curriculums and essays from nearly 130 students.
When asked what advice she would give to aspiring teachers, she suggested you avoid the profession unless you’re in it purely for the students’ academic well-being.
“It's changed so much. If teaching was for you, the students have to come first, Rosie said. “It's not about the money or the prestige, although I don't think there's much prestige in teaching anymore. It would be the love for your kids, you know, wanting them to succeed and excel.”
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].