Ready For Retirement


For many teachers, retirement is something to look forward to. Most can’t wait to sleep in, no longer have to attend meetings and have more overall freedom in their choices.  Although there are plenty of things to look forward to, there are also many things that are missed in retirement. From students and colleagues to extracurriculars, the three staff members who are leaving Libertyville High School this year each have their own aspect of LHS that they will miss.


Mrs. McPhillips

Jodi McPhillipsAbbey Humbert

Mrs. Jodi McPhillips has been working as a librarian at Libertyville High School since 2006. She previously worked as a social science teacher in the McHenry area starting in 1985. From May 1988 to August 1989, Mrs. McPhillips and her husband took a year-long sabbatical and traveled to Denmark. 

There, they coached the Denmark professional and junior basketball teams, in addition to volunteering with younger students. She was also the head librarian at Johnsburg High School from 2004 to 2006 before starting her job at LHS.

“I loved teaching, and I’ve always said that the library is the biggest classroom in the building, and I wanted to be a part of that,” Mrs. McPhillips expressed.

Mrs. McPhillips’ first impression of the school and favorite memory from her time at LHS was when she came for her interview for the position.

“I came up and there was a student on the curb and he’s like, ‘Can I help you?’ And I said, ‘I’m looking for the entrance,’ and he’s like, ‘I will go with you,’ and he walked with me around the side of the building. I was telling him I was here for the interview to become the librarian. We got to the doors and he was like, ‘good luck and I hope you get the job.’ It was so sweet…I was like, ‘wow, if this is what this building contains, I want to be in here.’ It was a wonderful, wonderful introduction to Libertyville High School,” she expressed.

Mrs. Amy Wiggins and Mrs. McPhillips have become close friends in the five years that they have been working as librarians together.

“Just the thought of [her retiring] makes me cry that I’m not going to see her every day,” Mrs. Wiggins explained. “She is Aunt Jodi to my young son, so she is like a family member, and I know I will keep in touch with her, but it will be hard not seeing her every day…and [having to] make a time to see each other versus just knowing that I get to see her Monday through Friday.”

Mrs. Wiggins explained how Mrs. McPhillips inspired her to be a teacher-librarian, which is a certified librarian who also has training in teaching. Mrs. Wiggins described her as “genuinely a good person…She’s everything you would want in an educator and in a friend.”

Mrs. McPhillips is excited to be able to relax and have more freedom in her choices. She is going to try to do more yoga. Mrs. McPhillips is also looking into going around to different clubs and libraries in the McHenry area to report on a presentation that she has made involving the history of the McHenry area. “ I [want to] embrace whatever might come my way,” Mrs. McPhillips explained.

“The first thing I’m going to try to do is nothing. I think that’s going to be really a challenge to totally shut down, so to speak,” she stated. She also plans to move to Great Britain because she “write[s] a blog on the Tudor England and so I would like to…do some more research,” she explained.

One of the things she is looking forward to in retirement is “not being controlled by the bell.” However, she will miss LHS. The thing she will miss most is “…working with the students and [the] faculty. I’m sure that’s what everyone says, but it’s true.”

Despite looking forward to her retirement, she expressed that “I know I’m going to miss it; that’s all there is to it!”


Mrs. Kasel

Abbey Humbert

Mrs. Carolyn Kasel has been working at LHS since 1986 but taught in the Milwaukee area for two years before working here.

She knew that she wanted to become a teacher in high school, but she was unsure what she wanted to teach. She went to live in France for a period of time in college, and that’s when she realized she wanted to teach French. She originally started studying Special Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison but switched her major in order to become a French teacher.

Mrs. Kasel stays at LHS for first period only and then commutes to Vernon Hills to teach more French classes for the rest of the day. She has been commuting for about two-thirds of the time that she has worked in the district. “It is nice because I get to see everybody. I get to see what is going on in the entire district,” Mrs. Kasel explained.

In addition to teaching French, Mrs. Kasel used to coach cheerleading at LHS. “I knew nothing about cheerleading, but [I] had so much fun and it was really nice to see students outside the classroom,” Mrs. Kasel expressed.

One of the things that Mrs. Kasel has loved is when she has students more than one year in a row. She was recently able to have the same students that she had in French I in French II the following year. Junior Erin McCane had Mrs. Kasel two years in a row and describes her as “an incredible person and a great teacher.”

“I feel like you never really know what you have until it’s gone. And I think that after having her for two years and then not having her this year, you realize….it’s the little things that she did,” McCane expressed.

Mrs. Kasel and Mrs. Sara Gourley have become best friends over the 21 years that they have known each other. Mrs. Gourley described her as “the sister who wasn’t born into my family but that I chose for myself.” They were introduced at a Fourth of July party the year after Mrs. Gourley began working at LHS in the math department.

“She was the person who came over to my house two days before I got married… [and] she’s the person who came to the hospital when my babies were born,” Mrs. Gourley explained.

Mrs. Kasel plans to go on a trip to California with her husband this summer and hopes to get a dog in the future. They are also looking at buying a condo in Madison, Wisconsin, in order to be closer to her parents but will still keep their house in this area. Mrs. Kasel is looking forward to catching up on her reading and taking long walks in her retirement; she is also excited to spend more time with family and friends in her time off.  

One of the things that Mrs. Kasel will definitely miss about LHS is seeing the school spirit when a sports team is doing well. “I really love the spirit that I see here. I think LHS has a really long tradition of being really proud of their school and of all the accomplishments that have happened in, and beyond, this building,” Mrs. Kasel said.  

She will also miss her students and colleagues. “My colleagues are like a second family to me now,” Mrs. Kasel expressed.


Mrs. Stevens

Abbey Humbert

Mrs. Nancy Stevens started her career in social work in 1999 at Warren High School. She worked at Grayslake North starting in 2004, and then was a school counselor at Cyd Lash Academy for six months before coming to LHS in 2006 for a job as a school counselor.

“I [wasn’t] sure what I wanted to do when I was growing up…and then I found social work and I just loved it. Then [I] decided that I would like to check out school counselors… so I went back and got my master’s in school counseling. So I started that when I came here,” Mrs. Stevens explained.

Throughout her years at LHS, Mrs. Stevens was involved in Best Buddies and former clubs called ACE (Athletes Committed to Excellence) and SPARK (which encouraged students to support peers in being healthy).

“I am a co-sponsor of Best Buddies, so I’m going to really miss that and that interaction,” Mrs. Stevens expressed.

One of Mrs. Stevens favorite memories is “the first day that students arrive and we…[are] reuniting with students that we haven’t seen for the whole summer. I think that’s an exciting day,” she said.

Ms. Cameron Traut, the school nurse, and Mrs. Stevens have worked together for 20 years. They worked together at Warren High School before starting at LHS. Ms. Traut said that her favorite thing about Mrs. Stevens is her positive and friendly attitude. Ms. Traut knows that Mrs. Stevens has been a great counselor because she is “always working hard to help students be successful.”

Senior Gina Sylvester and Mrs. Stevens have formed a close bond over the four years that she has been Sylvester’s counselor. “You could tell her anything, and you know she won’t show judgement at all,” Sylvester explained. “Everything about her — she just warms her heart. You just can’t not smile when you’re with her.”

Mrs. Stevens plans to move to Florida this summer to work as a social worker in the medical field.

“I’m…looking for some new challenges and just a different environment and being in warmer weather doing that. I don’t want to shovel snow anymore,” Mrs. Stevens expressed.

Mrs. Stevens also is looking forward to spending more time with her children, grandchildren and friends. She is very excited to be able to go to the beach whenever she wants to. Even with all of her future plans, she is definitely going to miss working at LHS.

“I do have a lot of mixed emotions. I’m going to be sad because every day I get to come here, and I have all of my friends that I work with, and then I have students that I’ve known and families that I’ve known for a lot of years. I have a lot of emotions. I am a little nervous, a little sad and a little excited. It depends on the moment,” Mrs. Stevens explained.