Barbara Nealon Retires After 36 Years

By Grace Gorham, Contributing Writer

  After 36 years of teaching, science teacher Barbara Nealon is retiring.

  Nealon started teaching in 1981 and has taught at 3 different schools, ultimately ending up at Susquehannock for 18 years.

  Nealon decided to retire this year because it is getting harder and harder to keep up with all the changes in Biology.

  “As a teacher, I am removed from the science research. I read about an hour a day to keep up with the new discoveries so I can incorporate them into my lessons. I want to retire while I still love my job and am an effective teacher. I miss field work and am excited to be able to volunteer my time so I can help scientists in the field. Budget constraints have made it difficult for the national park to hire scientists to work in the field. By retiring, I’ll be able to help them. I am ready for a new challenge.”

  What motivated Nealon to start teaching was to help kids grow, and that’s also what that she will miss the most, the kids.

  She has not only taught science classes throughout her many years of teaching, but also agriculture, outdoor education, nature programs, and swimming lessons.

   Some of her hobbies outside of school are knitting, choral singing, hiking, camping and baking for her students. Senior Taylor Stenley, who had Nealon for anatomy, has a favorite memory of a time that Nealon baked for her class.

  “I remember for someone’s birthday- I can’t remember whose birthday it was- she made apple cake, and brought it in for everyone in the class, and it was fantastic,” said Stenley.

AP Bio students at the breakfast before the AP test. Photo by Barbara Nealon.

  Junior Michael Torbert has enjoyed Nealon’s class, and being around her in general.

  “I’ve known Mrs. Nealon for at least this year through AP Bio, but also throughout the past three years of high school. I’ve heard a lot of things about her and how she’s an amazing teacher and a really nice lady. Her best qualities are that she’s nice and respectful to you not only as a student, but as a person,” said Torbert. “She, as a teacher, can take one of the hardest subjects like AP Bio and make it understandable for everyone in the class. I will miss the constant support and encouragement she gives and just seeing her in the halls, saying hi, and getting a smile from her.”

  Stenley likes how engaged with the class Nealon is and will miss that about her.

  “She is really patient with my class; we have a lot of questions, so she’s really eager, and she likes talking about her subject… she likes getting off task and talking to us about real world events, she likes to get political, and she’s just a really nice lady,” said Stenley. “ I’m gonna miss how excited she got when one of us asked a question that she wants to talk about, because she’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh I was just about to mention this!’ and I’ll just miss how excited she gets about the subject.”

AP Environmental Science students with their water bottle project. Photo by: Barbara Nealon.

  Some of Nealon’s favorite memories from teaching have been the AP breakfasts on the mornings before AP Bio and APES tests, student independent research presentations, giving Lab Coats to seniors who took 4 AP Science Classes, taking students to the World Food Prize Student Conference and having a student selected for an international lab internship in China, analyzing real science data with her students and drawing conclusions, and the water bottle filler project, which she is very proud of her students for.

“My AP Environmental Science class last year… they took it on as a project, so they raised the money, they did all the research, they met with the administration… they literally did it all. Right now there is a total of seven water bottle fillers that have gone in. Four of which the kids have raised the money for and three of which the funds were raised by other people. They started the movement,” said Nealon.

  As for the future, Nealon plans to spend time volunteering and outside with nature.

  “I volunteer at Acadia National park in the summer, and I help maintain hiking trails, and I’m gonna be doing that this summer, and I’m going to be working with some scientists up there to do some research in the field. And, I do the stage crew at York Catholic so I’m going to keep doing that,” said Nealon.

Nealon and guidance counselor Colleen Dzwonczyk are honored for their time at Susquehannock. Photo by: Kristen Krobot.

  It is very clear that Nealon is passionate about her job and will miss everything about teaching.

  “I think I’ve had the most wonderful job a person could ever have. And it’s because of the kids and the people I’ve worked with. I don’t ever come to school thinking, ‘I hate being here,’ because I love work. It’s not work to me. And I love watching kids succeed. Every single time a lightbulb goes on, they’ve grown, and that’s what it’s all about. And I’m gonna miss that,” said Nealon. “But, it’s exhausting. I don’t think people realize how hard we work. You come in at 7:30 and you leave at 2:45, and some us us leave at 5 or 6:00, some of us come in at 6:00 in the morning, and it’s very tiring, but very rewarding. I’m just thankful that I’ve been able to do it for so long, and in so many different ways. No two days were ever alike, and that’s a lot of fun.”