The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

Boys lacrosse wins first playoff game against Grant
Letter to the reader 2024
Personal Finance 101

After Hours


   Before teaching, Mr. Stuart Mendelsohn, the current boys cross country head coach, distance track coach,  and substitute teacher, was a Libertyville police officer. He graduated from Bradley University with a major in criminal justice and minor in psychology.

   “I wanted to be a police officer to have a positive influence on society and to help people,” Mr. Mendelsohn explained. “Carrying through with initiation requires a lot of determination.  It’s a long process. It involves a written test, physical fitness test, interviews, a polygraph test, and a  psychological evaluation.”  

   Due to injury, he had to retire from being an officer and chose to move on to becoming a teacher. Mr. Mendelsohn became a teacher because of the same reasons he became a police officer.

   “As a teacher, I can make a difference with students in the hope that I can educate them about the law and attempt in preventing students from making poor choices,” Mr. Mendelsohn shared.



   Government and Current Issues teacher Dennis Duffy graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a degree in political science and history but with no job or place to live. During college, he saved up enough money to go backpacking around Europe, where he recognized his need to find a job he enjoys to avoid corrupting himself. He had a fascination with politics but had no desire to go into education because he believed he had nothing to offer kids. Previously, in college, he had done an internship with Congress.

   “But I knew I didn’t desire to work with Congress because they took people in and spit them out and while that’s going on, you have very little impact at all,” said Mr. Duffy.

   He got a job in Springfield, Illinois’s capital, with the help of a friend, who happened to be a lobbyist, and worked there for three years, until he got everything out of it he thought he could. He then went back to college to attend law school at Champaign because his friends and colleagues suggested he should.

   Following law school, he got a job as a litigator from a colleague he had met seven years prior.

   “The ethical and moral aspects began to weigh on me and eventually soured me on being an attorney,” said Mr. Duffy. There was more pressure to make money for the firm than there was to represent his clients to the best of his ability. His family knew that it wasn’t something he really wanted to be involved in, so they only supported him to an extent.

   He began to look for something that made him happy when he was about 33-34 years old and kept coming back to teaching because he believed he now had something that he could offer to students.

   He asked Mr. Kevin O’Neill if he could watch him teach, and he was actually allowed to teach himself, and immediately felt a click. He then spent the next two years getting his “ducks in a row” and then had to decide between Libertyville and Stevenson. Libertyville was the better option to him because of their more open policies on teaching. He has remained at LHS since.



   American Literature and Bible Literature teacher Ms. Sharra Powell has been teaching since she got out of college. But on the side, she has one unique hobby. Through mutual friends, she discovered powerlifting. Powerlifting is a sport that involves three different types of lifts. The three include: deadlift, squats, and benches. For competing, the goal is to lift the largest amount of weight possible.

   Because of a busy schedule that powerlifting required, Ms. Powell had to quit. After about five years, the competing and training took over a large part of my life and I had to step back from competing to get more balance with work and family,” Ms. Powell stated.

   Ms. Powell revealed that women tend to avoid powerlifting in fear that they will become too manly.

   “Sometimes women shy away from using weights because they fear that they will look more masculine as a result.  That is not the case.  While you may become more toned and get a little definition around some of your muscles, weights do not make you become instantly masculine.” Powell said.

   Despite some of those misconceptions, weight training can be very healthy for women, and Ms. Powell still tries to complete some type of weight training in her workouts.



Ms. Christee Joesten, a math teacher at LHS, was previously involved in OB/GYN and fertility work. After attending the University of Iowa, Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, and Benedictine University, she received her graduate degree at Northern Illinois University.

   During the time that Ms. Joesten was a doctor, she was able to travel to Africa and visit remote villages to set up medical clinics.

   “My favorite part of being in medical school was traveling abroad to do medical work.  Seeing how people in a third-world country live really humbled me and made me feel so fortunate for what we have in America,” Ms. Joesten revealed.

   While in Africa, however, she realized that she wanted to spend more time with her family and enjoyed tutoring her fellow peers, so she decided to give teaching a try so that she could make the most out of her life.

   “I absolutely love being a teacher and I don’t regret my decision for a second,” said Ms. Joesten.  “All of my students that I have had or currently have make it all worth it.”



   AP Physics I and II teacher Mr. Michael Cook was previously a member of the Marine Corps. He joined the delayed entry program, which is for 17-year-olds who are waiting to turn 18 and enlist.

   After finishing high school, he enrolled in the Marine Corps and began college at the University of Madison.  Following graduating, he began boot camp and drill training every week, starting at 5:30 or 6 a.m.  “Boot camp is designed to take a civilian and turn him into a marine,” explained Mr. Cook.

   After his continuous training, Mr. Cook joined the Officer Candidate Program. “Officer Candidate School is enlisted [and] senior enlisted, and in essence, they are picking their future bosses, their officers. So what they’re evaluating you on in Officer Candidate School is: do you have what it takes to lead,” Mr. Cook revealed.

   Unfortunately, Mr. Cook’s officer position was “hot filled” which is when a job is filled quickly, leaving him jobless. While he could have gone to a different job in the Marine Corps, none were very appealing, so instead he decided to start a new job.

   “I love teaching, I love the kids. I’m doing a lot of things I did in the Marine Corps, minus the dirt and the big weapons. Teaching, coaching, mentoring, it’s all the same stuff you did in the Marine Corps,” he shared.

   Mr. Cook has never looked back on his decision, and does not have any regrets: “You can’t have regrets in life. There’s always a ‘what could have been’ but, so what? Think of all the things you could have been missing had you gone back.”

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The student news publication of Libertyville High School
After Hours