Teaching duo retires after 44 years in education

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Kathy Florence and Diane Jagielnik started work on the same day, in the same building, 44 years ago. (WLS)

Kathy Florence and Diane Jagielnik started work on the same day, in the same building, 44 years ago.

"All of the doors were locked. And I'm knocking on the doors. Then I see her and she's looking at me and I'm looking over at her like 'don't I know you?'"

They've worked together closely ever since as teachers at St. Bruno school in Chicago's Archer Heights.

"It was a surprise, but it was like we never even... skipped a beat. We just went back to where we were," they say, finishing each other's sentence.

Literally--it's the same place they were once classmates and childhood friends.

Now, Miss Kathy teaches kindergarten--always has.

And each spring, she hands her class off to Miss Diane for first grade.

Over the years, they've only gotten closer.

"She stood up to my wedding, she's the godmother for one of my kids."

This tag team has an impressive stat line.

They've taught the same 2,400 students, partnered up for 120 field trips, and worked with 12 principals.

"61,600 school bells we've listened to over the years."

They're partners outside the classroom too-having made the school playground a reality. The pair worked with a company and parents to put it together piece by piece in just one day.

"They did not just have the same lesson plans for 25 or 30 years. Every time a new initiative came down the pipe, they would do it. They would jump in with both feet."

Anne kielbasa has seen this in action... first hand.... Teaching alongside Florence and Jagielnik for 25 years.

"They do have their individual personalities. And they complement one another rather than stand alone."

But now, it's time for Miss Kathy and Miss Diane to graduate from St. Bruno, together-yet again.

"I'm the one that decided first. She's a few months younger than me so she could've stayed on."

They'll be missed by dear friends when school wraps up in two short weeks.

"I don't want to think about that. It's going to be very hard to come back knowing that they're going to be there because they're part of my life."

And by the kids they've both seen grow up.

"she's nice... gives us recess..." (from kids)

St bruno will always be home for them.

"We'll both be back."

But until they visit, they'll focus on a new adventure:

"Lunch," they agree.

Jagielnik hopes it'll last "longer than 20 minutes."

And maybe some time for recess too.

Related Topics:
educationcatholic schoolretirementChicagoArcher Heights
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