Theresa Filipowicz has been through it all in her decades as a teacher in the Bellefonte Area School District.
It even includes giving birth to her first child in 1990 on the same day her class and the school planned to throw her a baby shower.
“It was during the time I always said I needed a cellphone,” she said. “I said, ‘I’m pregnant and I’m back and forth going to work in Bellefonte.’ ”
At the time, Filipowicz was living about an hour away from the school district.
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And on March 22, 1990, she said, “something felt off.”
“I almost went in, but I wasn’t feeling right,” she said. “It’s a good thing I didn’t go in that morning, because by the afternoon, I had a baby.”
Only taking a few years off from teaching, Filipowicz said the time in Bellefonte was “nothing short of extraordinary.”
But perhaps what she said was the one of the best parts of being a teacher was getting support this year as she battled breast cancer.
She took days off here and there, but primarily spent her last year at Bellefonte Elementary School in the classroom with a group of second-grade students.
“I was diagnosed last year and so thankful for the help and support to get through it,” she said. “They wore pink shirts on Fridays, at field day had pink balloons, and made donations. It was one of the things that really helped me get through it.”
This year, however, Filipowicz is calling it quits after being with the Bellefonte Area School District since 1979.
But her retirement has nothing to do with her cancer diagnosis, she said.
“I never thought I’d see the day I’d retire,” Filipowicz said. “I know I’m ready to do something different.”
She said she plans to attend many Friday night home football games, and hopes to be a substitute teacher in the district to keep herself busy.
Filipowicz said she goes down as one of the oldest — and longest serving teachers — at the district along with Bib Polak who’s also been with the district since 1979.
“There’s been a lot of good memories; too many to name, but one of the cool things is being able to stay at the same district for my whole career, and end up teaching the kids of some former students I had,” Filipowicz said.
She started with Bellefonte Area is 1979 as a middle school language arts and social studies teacher. In 1990, she took some time off to stay home with her then three young children, who are also Bellefonte Area graduates of 2008, 2013 and 1014.
She then went back to teaching in 1997.
“I was lucky to have been able to teach at a couple different places, and also have the chance to teach more than just one subject,” she said. “There was a lot of variety. It kept it fun, and brought something new every day.”
And she said the last day of school this year was “heart wrenching.”
“One of the things I always treasure as a memory is the children on the last day of school who are eager to get out, but because you’re like a mom to them, they leave, shake your hand or give you a hug and tell you they can’t wait to come back, and that’s what really warms your heart,” Filipowicz said.
Additional Bellefonte Area retirees
▪ Barb Eckley, food service director. with the district for 14 years
▪ Anna Rossman, para educator, Marion-Walker Elementary. With the district for 26 years
▪ Patricia DeVier, para educator, Pleasant Gap Elementary. With the district for 9 years
▪ James Leigey, maintenance. With the district for 34 years
▪ Pauline Ceprish, para educator, Bellefonte Area High School. With the district for 16 years
▪ Lisa Packer, art teacher, Bellefonte Area Middle School. With the district for 35 years
▪ Gloria Waite, custodian, Bellefonte Area Middle School. With the district for 9 years
▪ Paula Haagen, library clerk, Marion-Walker and Pleasant Gap elementary schools. With the district for 27 years
▪ Gene Auman, custodian, Bellefonte Elementary. With the district for 10 years
▪ Ruth Jackson, FCS teacher , Bellefonte Area High School. With the district for 11 years
▪ Margaret Barton, art teacher, Bellefonte Area High School. With the district for 25 years