Learn more about the eight retiring teachers and how they came to be at RBHS.
Eva Vazquez, Spanish teacher
RBHS managed to find an incredible educator 33 years ago when it came across then-aspiring English teacher, Eva Vazquez.
After glancing at her last name, the interviewer asked if she spoke Spanish, which she does. With a vacant position for a Spanish teacher, her position at RBHS began as a combination of teaching both English and Spanish.
Now, as a retiring Spanish teacher, her students will remember the memories, songs and extensive culture she shared with them.
For junior Shanley Silvey, spending the last two years in Vazquez’s Spanish class has been equally fun and difficult. She said she could not imagine learning the tongue from anyone else.
“I love that no matter how much we mess up her native language,” Silvey said, “she still laughs with us as we continue to learn and make mistakes.”
Vazquez’s hard work allows her a well deserved, relaxing retirement. With trips to China and Germany on the horizon, Vazquez looks forward to A more time with family.
“I’m going to be learning Chinese, so then I can speak to my daughter-in-law’s parents better,” Vazquez said. “And I really, really want to go to Oberammergau [Germany]. My youngest son said, ‘I’ll go with you,’ and that cinched it.”
Kory Kaufman, Science teacher
It’s hard to find someone who cares as much about their students as physics teacher Kory Kaufman. Lingering in the educational field for 31 years, Kaufman became attached to students at the high school and junior high levels. He said he will miss the constant, “Hey, Mr. Kaufman” from students in the halls.
Having taught and connected with thousands of students over the years, however, he knows the greetings will never go away.
In terms of the future, Kaufman believes it will be nearly impossible to get away from teaching. He plans to work part-time with students of all ages and educational levels, whether it be at the University of Missouri or through organizations like Missouri River Relief.
“I love my job,” Kaufman said. “It’s going to be hard to get away from, but I’m looking forward to whatever the next thing is.”
Hoping to travel, revamp his property and build a barn, Kaufman stands by the lesson he learned early on in his career, “You can’t make kids come to your class. It’s your job to get them to want to come to your class and to want to stay in your class.”
Taking this idea to heart, Kaufman has truly impacted the lives of the students he’s interacted with at RBHS these past seven years, and found teaching to be “a joy ever since.”
Deborah Greene, Vice Principal
Having worked at several different elementary schools and middle schools, Assistant Principal Deborah Greene said she is content with ending her career at RBHS.
“I can’t really compare the other schools, like Parkade Elementary, Smithton Middle and Jefferson Jr., to RBHS,” Greene said. “I definitely know that this high school is, of course, the most open because of the philosophy.”
Before embracing the “freedom with responsibility” motto, Greene was opposed to it. After experiencing the positive environment of RBHS, however, she acknowledged freedom made students more responsible.
Greene is thankful to the RBHS staff for the “wild and crazy ride” she has had with them.
“I’ve enjoyed working here. It’s a good group of people that care about kids,” Greene said. “Just keep teaching the best that you know how and continue to treat everyone fairly.”
Manuela Brantley, Cafeteria
Manuela Brantley, a lunch lady at RBHS for 22 years, wants to be closer to her family in order to take care of her grandchildren, Logan and Declan.
One of Brantley’s proudest moments is achieving her U.S. citizenship Nov. 18, 1993 after moving to the States from Germany more than a decade prior. While here, her daughter, Jessica, attended RBHS and graduated in 2002. Brantley thinks the school’s students are very nice and she is happy she has worked here.
Lisa Jenkins, Guidance Secretary
Lisa Jenkins has been the guidance secretary at RBHS for seven years. Jenkins has also worked at the Career Center for 12 years prior to her current position.
Her reason for retirement is to spend time with her husband, children and grandchildren.
“Once, someone told me you would just know when you need to retire,” Jenkins said. “And I feel like I’ve reached that point where I need to be around my family more.”
Jenkins said the staff was supportive, helping her through some tough times. Jenkins will remember their kindness to both her and to the RBHS student body. She still encourages students to visit the counseling office.
“I want to say to the staff to just keep doing what you’re doing and to keep reaching out beyond the walls of [RBHS],” Jenkins said.
Gwen Struchtemeyer, EEE Teacher
Having worked at RBHS for 18 years, Gwen Struchtemeyer, EEE teacher, has touched the hearts of countless students and helped improve hundreds of ACT scores.
“It’s the best feeling ever when students tell you that they got the score they needed [on the ACT] and tell you that they just got $12,000 scholarships,” she said. “It’s enormously satisfying, and I love that reaction.”
Freshman Maddie Llewellyn, who has worked with Struchtemeyer to improve her writing, is certainly sad to see her go.
“She’s a really amazing teacher,”she said, “and whenever I need help with anything, she’s the one I go to. If I have an essay for civics due, for example, Mrs. Struchtemeyer is always ready to help me think of ideas.”
Her decision to retire wasn’t because she lost the love of teaching but instead because she wants to experience more time with her family.
“The irony of teaching is that sometimes you end up being a better parent to students than your own children,” said Struchtemeyer, who plans on working as a substitute teacher in the Southern Boone County school district while assisting her sons’ friends with the ACT.
Deborah McDonough, AP English
After 41 years in the educational field, Deborah McDonough exemplifies dedication to her students and teaching staff.
Her first teaching job was in Guam, Micronesia for English. Since then she has also taught in San Diego, Calif. and Boston, Mass.
McDonough said she has taught more than 4,000 students, graded more than 20,000 essays, taught more than 50 novels, 200 short stories and 250 poems and written more than 600 college and teacher recommendation letters.
Junior Grace Dablemont will miss watching her fiddle with technology and listening to her many stories and experiences.
“I love her ability to remember the things that make her students unique,” she said.
Melanie Knocke, Planetarium
After helping with the RBHS planetarium, Knocke will retire this month.
She has guided the planetarium through alterations, including the show system and adding light shows. While hosting many public events, Knocke has most recently written a children’s book, “A Little Piece of the Moon.”