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Retiring from HHS

Diverse exiting staff includes school’s liaison police officer, counselors and coaches.

Every year as Herndon High School looks to bid farewell to hundreds of graduating seniors it must also look to say goodbye to a different group of people moving on to another stage in their lives — the school’s retiring faculty members.

"It’s always something each year that we look at with mixed feelings," said Herndon High School principal Frances Ivey. "On one hand it’s great to see when staff members who have dedicated 20 to 25 years of their lives to educating and working with our children have the chance to move on in their lives … but on the other you always hate to see some of those faces go."

This year those faces include veteran student counselor Maureen Wiesemann; assessment coach Sharon Bowen; physical education teacher Ed Lewis; sophomore class administrative assistant Pattie Howell; senior resource officer Michael Murn of the Fairfax County Police Department; English teacher Nancy Hencken and math teacher Cathy Waite.

What has been most interesting about this year’s retiring group is its wide range of represented positions from teachers to administrative assistants to the school’s police officer for the last four years, Ivey said.

"It’s a diverse mix but they are all very dedicated to helping their children," Ivey said.

RETIREMENT LOOKS to be a new leg in life’s often twisting journey, according to Lewis, who has taught physical education and been a football offensive line coach at Herndon High School for seven years.

Lewis began teaching physical education with Fairfax County Public Schools nearly 30 years ago to get closer to the world of sports management, he said. His career working with the Herndon community’s young athletes and students has been rewarding in more ways than one, Lewis said.

"The thing about the Herndon is that there is this ‘home’ type of atmosphere," Lewis said. "The community here is very supportive of the high school in general and its physical education programs."

"Working here, it’s always been a very team effort with the community."

While Lewis will not be retaining his teaching career in his retired life, he has plenty of additional skills that he plans on exploring.

Since coming to Herndon High School, Lewis has owned a landscaping business and worked as a handyman on the side. He is moving to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he will look into a new, and as of yet unknown, post-teaching career.

"For me, personally, I’ve put in my time and it’s time for another chapter in my book," Lewis said. "I’m ready to move on and see what else is in store for me in my life."

THE ROAD to a post-retirement career for Herndon High School senior resource officer Michael Murn of the Fairfax County Police Department does not appear to be a long one.

After four years as the school’s police liaison representative, Murn, a Herndon resident and father of future Herndon High School students, will be signing on with the Herndon Police Department.

For Murn, the career change is just another step in a progression to be closer to and serve the Herndon community.

"I love the diversity of Herndon, it’s the real world," Murn said. Herndon High School "has a definite hometown connection, the community is here all the time, the chamber, the council, they’re all here all the time interacting with the school."

His experiences working with the students of Herndon High School over the course of the last four years have only worked to increase his passion for the community and his work as a police officer, he said.

"The reward goes from driving a sick child home because their parents were at work … to pulling out someone who may be a danger to the other students," Murn added. "I can say that I’ve received more gratification from the job [as a school liaison officer] than in any position I’ve had previously."

"I would say it’s the most important job at the police department."

WHILE NEW TEACHERS and administrative faculty will be coming to fill the vacancies from other Fairfax County Public Schools locations, outside districts and recent graduations of their own, a lasting legacy of the retiring members will linger, Ivey said.

"You’re losing numerous years of experience and just a tremendous knowledge of the school," Ivey said. "Every year I’m saying goodbye to the old and bringing in the new, and it’s a loss in one way, but as a whole school we’ve gained a lot from them over their time here."

"And we’re welcoming in our new faculty with excited and open arms."