Happy Retirement, Mrs. DeSantis!

Happy Retirement, Mrs. DeSantis!

As a beloved Lenape teacher since 1990, Mrs. DeSantis is practically a piece of our school. I, for one, had the privilege of being her freshman biology student, and I can attest to her energy, her incredible teaching abilities and biology knowledge, and of course, her love for her students and Lenape.

But, after 32 and a half years of teaching at Lenape, it is now time for Mrs. DeSantis to retire. To celebrate her last year at Lenape, I interviewed Mrs. DeSantis and am very excited to share with you the interesting things I learned about her!


When did you realize you wanted to be a teacher?

“When I was probably in first grade. My career took me a down different path, but I was a biology major in college, and then I kind of went in a different direction. And when I turned 30, I think it was, I didn’t like what I was doing and I said ‘what did I always really want to do?’ And it was teach. So I went back to school to become a teacher.”


What did you do before becoming a teacher?

“I worked as a surgical assistant for a veterinarian, I was a bank teller, and then I worked in banking operations, and then I worked in automatic data processing (ADP) as an account executive, and then a software conversion manager for banking systems.”


How did you pick the subject you wanted to teach?

“I always loved science. I love biology. In high school, I loved biology. I was a biology major right out of high school, in college.”


And what about genetics?

“When I was in high school, this was a brand new subject. And in 2000, I went to Princeton, a summer institute, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for a molecular biology genetics workshop because they wanted to bring genetics into the district, and I needed to be trained. So I went to Princeton for the summer, and learned it and absolutely fell in love with it. I went back to Princeton in 2004 for the summer and then I became an instructor for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the next 12 years or so.”


Was this while you were at Lenape?

“Yeah, I actually held the workshops here at Lenape, and it was teachers from all over the state, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, would come to take the workshops. So it was Princeton, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, but I was giving the workshops here, at Lenape. So we partnered with Princeton to do that.”


When did you start teaching at Lenape?

“February 1990. I was a maternity replacement for Mrs. Fox.”


Did she teach biology?

“She was a bio teacher. She just retired last year, and she went out on maternity and I had just graduated college in December, and I came in as a maternity replacement. And then, there was a position open, and I’ve been here ever since.”


Do you have a favorite memory from your teaching career?

“There’s too many. I couldn’t even tell you. I couldn’t even begin to tell you. There’s so many different things, there’s so much I’ve enjoyed, between science league advisor, all the classes I have taught, the trips I’ve gone on, Disney and Europe and band trips, and just… kind of everything. It’s all been really good. It was a good move for me to do this.


Then do you have a funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at Lenape?

“Outside of the day-to-day laughs that you get? Honestly… I couldn’t even… I don’t know. Just in the middle of teaching a class, a student will say something that has absolutely put me out. Like, where I had to stop, and I couldn’t tell you specifically what it was. But, usually, the funniest things or just something silly that a kid has said, that cracks me up, and it keeps me humble. You know? So I couldn’t point to any one thing. But I’m going to be thinking about that now. Cause I laugh a lot. I like to laugh. I don’t like being unhappy.”


What are you going to miss most about Lenape?

“Just everything. The students, the day-to-day interactions, just going to the sporting events. Not even teaching the class, but being in the class with my kids. I’m gonna miss the kids a lot. A lot, a lot. 


Out of the different classes you teach and the clubs you advise, do you have a favorite?

“I like them all for different reasons. I love teaching freshmen, honors freshmen, because it’s hard. It gives them the foundation to be successful later, and it doesn’t always feel good in the beginning. But, I love teaching genetics because it’s… they’re grown. My seniors, they’re adults and I can see how far they’ve come and I get to be part of their successes and struggles. So when you say there’s one favorite, I love Science League, I love dominating all the other schools, because it proves that Lenape really was, and is, a powerhouse school. Little known fact, when I was first hired here, I was the basketball cheer leading assistant advisor, and the Smoke Signal assistant advisor with Ms. Hammond. Back in the day. Those were my first clubs. And then I took on Science League early. I think, like, 1992 we started Science League here.”


What are your plans after retirement?

“I don’t know. Something will find me. I know this is silly, but I knit as a hobby, and I’m going to knit blankets for Voorhees Animal Shelter. It’s Comfort for Critters, and you knit blankets, and when the dogs get adopted, the blanket goes with them to their new home. So, I’m going to do that and, you know, clean out a couple closets. I like to work, so I’m sure something will find me or I’ll find something. 


Do you have anything you would like to say to your colleagues and students?

“See… I’m going to cry. It’s a great place to be, you know? Don’t let all the little day-to-day struggles get in the way of what a really great place this is. Just keep doing what you’re doing because it works and it’s a great place. It’s gonna be tough. I’ve spent half of my life here. Literally half my life. 32 and a half years I’ve been here. So… it’s time, you know? Make room for the young-ins.”

Let’s all give a big round of applause to Mrs. DeSantis for her dedication to her students and to Lenape over the years. Just like Mrs. DeSantis said, “It’s gonna be tough” to let her go, but the next chapter of her life has to start. But, no matter the number of years that go by without her at our school, we will always remember her Lenape Legacy.