For seniors, the last day of school marks their final day as high schoolers. For the other students and most teachers, it means a three month long vacation before another year of high school begins.
Some teachers, though, will be leaving alongside the senior class.
After 20 years of teaching at Coppell High School, Algebra II teacher Wendy Levell is moving away. She and her husband are relocating to their ranch in Hamilton, where Levell will continue teaching.
“We’ve had the ranch there for 14 years,” Levell said. “That’s always been our dream – to retire there. We have some cows and we are going to build a house and get some more animals once we move there.”
A teaching job in Hamilton will also provide the opportunity to make a more personal impact in the lives of students.
“It’s a smaller school with smaller class sizes, and I look forward to getting to know the students,” Levell said. “I think you get to know the kids even better than you do here.”
Although sad to see her go, the other teachers in the math department agree that the new school will be lucky to have her.
“She’s really a good teacher,” CHS AP Statistics teacher Michele Zugaro said. “A lot of kids think that if the class is really easy and they get good grades it’s the best. But it’s not the best thing for you, which is a really hard thing to explain. I’m going to miss her wit, visiting with her in the halls, and her everyday friendship. She’s hardworking, she’s decisive, she’s strong mathematically.”
CHS AP Statistics teacher Don Kemp also acknowledges the relationship of respect Levell forms with her students.
“She’s very fair,” Kemp said. “And all the kids love her. They always come back and see her. She’s very by the book, but they appreciate that.”
The other teachers in the math department appreciate her dedication to teaching, especially when it comes to her honesty.
“She’s the best sounding board,” CHS Geometry teacher Michelle Noble said. “I can go to her and know that she’s going to tell me the truth, even if it’s not what I want to hear. I know she’ll be honest. I appreciate people who will give you the harsh truth, and she will give it to you.”
Teaching together has left them all with memories that will be recalled even when Levell is miles away.
“We have a lot of memories, from going to workshops together and teaching at them, to funny stories in the hotel, and to lunches and just laughing about the dumbest things,” Noble said. “It’s hard to pick just one. I think my favorite thing is going to her classroom, leaning on her bookshelf and just talking to her.”
The other math teachers always refer jokingly to the passing periods when Levell stands outside her classroom “holding up the wall in the hall” or standing against the wall as if she is supporting it.
“I used to teach across the hall from her and we would spend passing periods talking to each other,” CHS Math Department Head Ian VanderSchee said. “I’ve learned a lot about good classroom management from her. Working with her has been a joy from start to finish.”
As Levell teaches her students, she also influences the teachers around her both through her teaching and the work she does outside of class.
“She’s taught me that you can be strict and a great teacher and still build relationships,” Noble said. “You can still have that balance, and I think she does that phenomenally. The best thing about working with her is being able to relax a little bit, because I know I can count on her. I think having that security and knowing that if she says she’s going to do something by a certain time, she will.”
According to Levell, she will miss her friends and the students here. It is not difficult to tell that she will be equally missed. Sophomore Priscilla Chow, one of Levell’s students, is thankful to be a part of her class before Levell leaves.
“She is the best math teacher I’ve ever had,” Chow said. “No one is able to explain math concepts in a way I can clearly understand. Mrs. Levell is strict because she wants us to truly learn the concepts, but she always cracks jokes in class. She even bet with a student that if he got an A on the quiz, she’d do the dab.”
When asked what impression she wants to leave behind, Levell didn’t hesitate.
“I want people to remember that I expected a lot from my students and I got a lot out of them,” Levell said, smiling.