High-energy educator makes plans away from classroom
After more than three decades at Big Foot, Schaid says she'll retire
May 04, 2011 | 08:53 AMAfter more than three decades of running around with a bunch of high schoolers why would someone jump out of an airplane?
"I've never done it before and it sounds like fun," said Susan Schaid, a long-time Big Foot physical education teacher who is retiring at the end of the year.
The high-energy teacher, who began teaching at Big Foot 35 years ago, said skydiving is one of the first things she has planned after the last day of school.
Just because Schaid is stepping away from the school, she has no plans of slowing down.
"I'm closing up one chapter and opening up and embracing another chapter in my life," she said.
Schaid first came to Big Foot High School in the 1975-76 school year to teach physical education. Although she is looking forward to retirement, she is going to miss working with kids.
"I really care about these students and I believe they know that and it has allowed me to do a better job because of the rapport," she said. "I really am interested in their lives, goals and achievements. This is what is going to be so hard for me to let go."
Schaid admits working with kids isn't always "rosy," but she experiences the "greatest joy when I feel I've made a difference."
Her colleagues said Schaid's energy level rubs off on the kids, which makes her effective.
"She doesn't accept a lackadaisical performance in her class," Big Foot Athletic Director Tim Collins said.
Collins, who also teaches physical education, said it is difficult to motivate today's kids to work hard, but Schaid is able to do it.
"She is pretty much the backbone of our department, she knows all the ins and outs," Collins said. "She has been in charge of the health and fitness programs for the faculty."
In addition to teaching, Schaid also coached gymnastic and tennis.
Schaid said she decided she wanted to teach gym when she was in the eighth grade.
"A that time there was a big push for teachers," Schaid said. "I wanted to teach, but I didn't want to be stuck in a classroom, I wanted to be active and outside."
However, Schaid said health education has taken on a new importance with today's generation.
With obesity rates and other health problems soaring, this is the first generation in two centuries to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, Schaid said physical education remains important.
"My belief over the last decade is opening people up to the idea that they have to take responsibility for their own health and wellness," Schaid said. "I try to infuse that into everything I do, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. People are hard to change."
Schaid has noticed this change over the years.
"Back when I first started, it was more on an even level, the general kid walking down the hall was similar health as the others," she said. "Now there is more of a difference between those who are taking care of themselves and those who have health issues and problems with obesity."
When she started teaching she only had a few students a year who suffered from asthma, but now she has kids in each class with it.
"That raises a lot of concerns about the environment and how that is affecting everyone's health and wellness," she said.
Schaid said her decision to retire was made "before the government decided to go ballistic."
"It wasn't in any way because of the budget crisis in government, but that certainly does validate my decision," Schaid said.
Sue is married to long-time educator Terry Schaid, who retired from Walworth Elementary School two years ago.
Terry worked in the school for 35 years, as the Dean of Students and as a physical education teacher.
Sue said she wasn't ready for retirement when her husband decided
"I needed about two years to digest the idea of retiring," Sue said. "(Terry's) making it look pretty fun."
The couple meet while they both were attending the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Both Terry and Sue studied Physical Education and History.
The pair met in anatomy class. The Schaids have three children, Alison, 24, who works as a marketing representative for a Chicago-based company.
They also have twins, T.J. and Emily, both 20. T.J. attends Grinnell College in Iowa and is a starting running back on the school's football team.
Emily attends Bradley University in Peoria, Ill.
In retirement, Schaid said she plans to stay active by gardening, playing golf, cross country skiing and hiking.