By: Alix Berman
I have never given much thought to the saying “bitter-sweet.” It has never stuck out in my mind or played an important role in my life. But when interviewing former administrator Mrs. Trotter two days before her retirement, the expression became clear. Sitting down with a strong woman of color who worked her way up through the school system was truly inspiring and influential. I had the opportunity to ask her some parting questions as she leaves her career at Half Hollow Hills High School East, and it is my honor to share them with you.
As your time at HSE is coming to a close, what is a memory that sticks out in your mind?
“The memory that sticks out in my mind? Wow, it has just been an emotional experience these past couple of months. I would say that since it is so fresh in my mind is the reception from all the teachers and students. It is just so touching. That is probably what I am going to remember because that is such a happy memory.”
When comparing your job from when you started to now what has been a significant change that you have seen?
“Well this district has always been successful as far as educating our students and giving them the tools that they need to be successful even after graduation. But I have always enjoyed just looking at the new programs that we add to our school. Looking at the clubs and just watching students flourish with their new ideas.”
Do you have any exciting plans as you leave HSE?
“My initial plan is to make sure that everything I have been responsible for and have left a roadmap for administrators to follow. Once I leave her I will begin living that next chapter of my life which is probably going to be a lot more laid back than what I have been doing here. Mostly travel, relax, and spend time with family.”
Is there anybody at HSE who impacted your experience?
“Wow, yes actually. I would say Dr. Woodbury. When I first came here he was so professional he just made me want to do my job that much better. It helped to prepare me for Dr. Strong who came in. Once Dr. Strong was here I saw him guiding the school in a direction that was even more supportive. Not to say that Dr. Woodbury wasn’t, it just made the transition very easy. So yes, I would say the most impactful people to me have been both Dr. Strong and Dr. Woodbury. I would not be able to say one over the other.”
Why did you start this job in the first place?
Well I was a very young girl coming out of college and when I was really young I always used to play being a teacher. SO when I was going through college it just became more real to me that that was exactly what I wanted to do. So I majored in psychology and mathematics and then eventually got my license, and I started teaching.
What will make you the most upset to leave?
“My husband who’s retired, I noticed that when I come home he wants to hear about my day. I realized that he’s not having the same conversations that I do everyday with the adults in the building as well as the students, you guys keep me young. I think that that’s the part that I am going to miss the most. Just all of the relationships that I have built here.”
You went from being a teacher to an administrator, what was that change like?
“That was a huge difference. First of all I would say that the bells did not have the same meaning. When I taught there were 40 minute segments and everybody had to be on time. As an administrator, it is like one long period. So the bells didn’t really have the same meaning so I gotta do what I needed to do over a longer period of time.”
What has been the most exciting thing you did while holding your position?
“Just transforming teaching and learning. In my position Most of the things I do are behind the scenes. Most people can’t really see it but they see the outcome. So, in my office I spend hours and hours of planning and preparing for something like testing that happens in june. I make the proctoring schedule and make sure that every student who has accommodations is okay so they can get it. I would say just building up those routines year after year and hearing the feedback from teachers on how it makes their lives easier. All those little pieces may not be seen by everyone but they come together and help people.”
High school is a challenging age for students, is there any piece of advice that you would like to give to the student body?
“As you go through each and every year you are going to get a lot of advice, and you are going to hear a lot of stories from staff and adults and they tell you those things for a reason. So listen very carefully and just follow that. You are going to do what you need to do on your own but listen to your teachers, your parents, follow their advice because we have all been there- and we only want the best for you.”