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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Rose Whalen is moving on to a new stage of her life after 36 years of teaching

Rosemarie Whalen
A photo of Whalen, her husband, her children, and more

Many years ago, while giving an Algebra 2 test, a student in the front row farted, and teacher Rosemarie Whalen was the one laughing the hardest. It is a memory she will never forget from her teaching career.

In 1988, Whalen began her teaching career with a seventh-grade history class at St. Mary’s of Redford, a Catholic school in Detroit. From there, she moved to Mackenzie High School—also in Detroit—where she taught math for a year and a half until she got married and moved to Grand Rapids.

Now, Whalen has been teaching a variety of math classes here at FHC for the last 33 years, and after 36 years of teaching, it is time for her journey to continue elsewhere.

Whalen grew up in the classroom. Her mother was an elementary teacher, so she was constantly in her mom’s classroom, helping with the bulletin boards. Additionally, Whalen is the youngest of nine children, four girls and five boys. Additionally, she has worked almost every day since she turned 16; she added to that in college, when she would sometimes work two to three jobs.

When she was in college at Wayne State University, she was sure she wanted to be a physical therapist, but her course soon changed direction.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to teach, and as I was taking classes, I truly thought I wanted to be a physical therapist,” Whalen said. “But then I took a couple of science classes that had four-hour labs, and I just couldn’t do it. I kept taking more and more math classes, so one day I went to my counselor and asked, ‘What can I do with math?’ She said I [could] teach.”

Whalen ended up switching paths and got her degree in Calculus instead. While she wanted to pursue math, she was unsure of where it would lead her in her career. Eventually, she decided to become a teacher. It was an option for her to use math in her day-to-day life, and she decided to teach.

I feel sad to leave; I really want to come back every day. It’s gonna be weird after 33 years of this place every single day, to get up and not come here.

— Rosemarie Whalen

While it wasn’t Whalen’s initial plan, it is something she has truly found a passion for.

“It wasn’t my ‘Oh, this is what I want to be in life,’” Whalen said, “but once I became a teacher and had kids, it was the best job I ever had.”

Teaching history at a middle school was how Whalen first started out, but she eventually started to teach more and more math classes, which were her passions. Throughout her career, Whalen has taught an abundance of different math classes, ranging from Algebra 1 to Pre-calculus.

While she taught in Detroit for a few years, Whalen ended up finding her true home within the walls of FHC.

“[What I love about FHC is] the kids,” Whalen said. “The kids and the teachers—we really do have the best kids here, and for the most part, they’ve been really supportive, really great, and hardworking kids. I think that makes teaching so much easier. [My favorite part about teaching] is seeing the students succeed, knowing that I helped them learn something and become better at learning.”

As an educator for over three decades, Whalen has noticed and found many ways to help her students succeed. She leaves them with a piece of advice that they should take with them throughout the rest of high school, college, and their careers.

“I think that [students] need to keep trying and not base their self-worth on what their letter grade is,” Whalen said, “but how far they’ve come from the beginning. I feel like that at our school there’s so much pressure to get into certain colleges, that you kind of lose sight of the fact that you’re doing great. Instead, you focus on not doing as well as them, and I feel like you should just focus on yourself and your own improvement.”

After this school year is finished, Whalen will not be back as a teacher next fall. While this opens up her schedule—such as having the ability to go to Iceland for two weeks, which she will do in August—it will be hard for her to wake up and not come back to FHC every day.

“I feel sad to leave,” Whalen said. “I really want to come back every day. It’s gonna be weird, after 33 years of going to this place every single day, to get up and not come here. I feel like I’m missing out on a good thing because we always have great kids.”

Whalen has dedicated 33 years of her life to teaching at FHC, and she fears that once she’s gone, she’ll be forgotten. She has had experience with some of her close colleague friends retiring and none of the students remembering or talking about them.

“What makes me sad is all my friends who have retired don’t come back,” Whalen said, “and nobody really asks about them or talks about them, [which] makes me really sad because I’ve missed them. I talked to them all the time, but I feel like once you’re gone, you’re forgotten.”

Whalen wants to leave her fellow students and teachers with one final quote:

“Keep being awesome,” Whalen said.

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About the Contributor
Autumn VanSolkema
Autumn VanSolkema, Staff Writer
Autumn is a junior entering her first year on The Central Trend. She loves a good romance novel, but loves her corgi more. If she is not belting out Taylor Swift songs, she is teaching herself new songs on the guitar or ukulele. You can find her cheering on the sidelines of football games or coaching her little fourth-grade cheer team. Autumn has grown up loving the theatre, being both on the stage and in the audience. She has performed in many shows and regularly begs her parents to take her to New York again to see more Broadway productions. Autumn is an avid photographer, with her camera roll being filled with 19k+ photos over the last two years. Her least favorite things in the world: Balloons and Styrofoam. Her favorite musicalsWaitress and Mamma Mia Number of surgeries she's had: 7 Her favorite condiments: Mayo and Ranch Favorite season: Just like her name, it's autumn

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