Rita Shaheen prepares to leave FHC

Ashlyn Korpak, Staff Writer

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Many teachers have walked the halls of FHC, each one with their own story of how they got here. But the minute one begins to talk with Rita Shaheen, it is blatantly obvious that her story is particularly special.

After marrying the love of her life when she graduated from college, they moved to their first home together in Waterloo, Ohio. But, due to her husband’s job, they were relocated many times before their final stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Every time he got a promotion, I like to say I got a demotion,” Shaheen said jokingly.

When the Shaheens finally made their way to FHPS, Rita made it clear to her husband that “the bus stops here.” If she wanted to keep teaching, which she did, she would need to stay with a school for more than a year or two.

So for the last thirty years, Shaheen has blessed our district with her sunny disposition and unconditional love for her students. She has been a staple figure at FHC for so long that the announcement of her retirement was disparaging news. No one wants to lose the bright buoyancy that Shaheen has brought to our building.

“Well…where do I start?,” sophomore Breezy Rusher said. “Mrs. Shaheen is probably one of the happiest, [most] outgoing people I know. [She is] full of joy, loves to [tell] tales and share stories, and can get a little distracted in class. But I have to say, it makes the class that much more interesting and more enjoyable.”

Although Shaheen knows it’s time for her to end her career as a teacher, it was a bittersweet moment for her.

“I almost didn’t want Mr. Passinault to announce it, because I knew I was gonna cry,” Shaheen said. “It’s not one of those jobs like my husband who said, ‘oh I never looked back; I was so happy to retire.’ I will look back, and I will probably do something that involves kids because, like I said, it’s that energy.”

That energy that Shaheen speaks of is the very thing that really kept her teaching.

“I remember thinking, ‘I don’t think that I could be with kids all the time,’ and I have my own– I have three kids,” Shaheen said. “I questioned if I could still keep the energy and keep loving it. But I do! And I may not really like the stuff online that I have to do, but the energy is the kids. I really do love it, and I’m gonna miss the kids. That’s for sure. Because that is an energy you really can’t describe.”

While Shaheen gets energy from her kids, she gives back just as much, if not more.

“Mrs. Shaheen is the cure for Monday mornings,” Breezy said. “When I walk in, I’m tired, I’m dead… But when I get to see Mrs. Shaheen in the mornings, she kind of wakes you up. ‘Shaheen coffee,’ as I call it sometimes, because she just wakes you up that well.”

However, it’s not just that radiant personality that draws many students to Shaheen, but the deep love she has for her students.

“She’s a real people person,” Breezy said. “She really cares about how you are.”

It’s that energy and love that has made Shaheen such an exceptional teacher who will be sorely missed.

“I’m very happy for her because I know retiring for a teacher takes a long time,” Breezy said. “But, at the same time, I’m kind of sad to see her go. I’m very interested to see what she’s going to do from here [on] out with her life. I wish her the best, and I hope that she keeps that spirit and positive energy. I hope that all the people she’s touched keep it with them too.”

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