teacher Mary Ann Rossman gets a little choked up and tears well in her eyes when she starts talking about her upcoming retirement.
Rossman, a 28-year teaching veteran with 14 years of service at Brighton High School, joins in June.
Rossman said it was time, that the signs were all there for her to leave behind the profession that she loves. Signs she describes as things people would say to her, more opportunities if she weren't working full-time and the upcoming retirement of her younger sister, Joanne Durham - a Brighton High School English teacher whose classroom is right down the hall from Rossman's.
"I can't be a half teacher," Rossman said. "I put my whole life into it and I need to get balance back in my life. I almost don't have any weekends because it's so much work. I love what I do, I love what happens here, but it requires that much work. I want the rest of my life. I leave this job with the greatest memories.
"I just kept hearing people say, family is important, friends are important," she said. "And hating Sunday night even though you love what you do is not a good thing. Those were the realities of life."
Rossman said she would often spend more than a handful of hours filling out student journals and creating newsletters for her students.
Rossman found her calling in life in her first five years of teaching by helping students with special needs. Six years ago, she helped implement the LINK Program, a peer mentoring program that pairs upperclassmen with special education students.
LINK was founded with a grant from Statewide Autism Resource and Training (START). The program concentrates on using confident, outgoing uperclassment to teach students social and communication skills and how to be independent as possible. Upperclassmen are trained before each school year on the skills they need to help special needs students in school and out.
Rossman said that the students often make better progress learning from a peer, like their LINKS, rather from adults.
Rossman said she feels proud when she hears people say that her successor will have big shoes to fill. But she's not worried about the program faltering.
"I helped give it roots and it's solid enough that someone can take over," she said about the LINK program.
Brighton High School Principal Gavin Johnson said Rossman will be extremely difficult to replace as a special education teacher.
"Mary Ann's personality, warmth and passion for kids are second to none," he said. "She is perfect for special eduction and for the LINK Program because she loves kids in a way that's hard to describe. Her personality matches her teaching - warm, compassionate, loving and respectful. Her personality fits that program perfectly."
Johnson said Rossman's successor will be Cheryl Bischer, who is currently a teacher cadet. Rossman will begin training her to take over the LINK Program.
After that, Rossman said she wants to do a little of everything - including travel, learn more about music, learn new crafts and sewing, volunteer and "become a Shakespeare geek."
"Nobody has more fun in this school team teaching (with Durham) or more rewards than I have at the end of every semester," she said. "These kids, just listening to what they have learned is priceless."