Despite closing her 31st year at LFHS and 34th year teaching, English and media literacy teacher Dr. Amy Birtman is retiring at the peak of her performance.
“When you get to be a certain age with so many years put in, my philosophy has always been I want to go out at the top of my game. I don’t want to be the old teacher that has food on her shirt and pencils in her hair,” said Birtman.
Birtman began her teaching career fresh out of University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, starting at Golf Middle School where she taught English to 6th and 7th graders. She taught swimming at LFHS and eventually coached the swim team and a girls soccer team.
Birtman and the LFHS superintendent “hit it off,” and with an opening rumored available, she decided to “jump ship” from Golf Middle School.
She quickly integrated into her new school, and learned that her passion for educating others was a “true calling.”
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher from way back. I loved babysitting, was a camp counselor, lifeguard, always worked with kids. Some people come to it later in life and some people have that yearning. It did feel like a calling,” said Birtman.
Instructional Director Kristen Carlson described how she “loves that [Birtman] is always learning and growing and seeking to be better so that she can serve all students.”
Senior Annie Burdiak, junior Shane Rodriguez, and junior Lillian Michael describe Birtman as welcoming and among their favorite teachers.
“She is very straight forward but she doesn’t bore you. She makes the classroom a fun and easy place to be. It’s very laid back, but she is very clear and concise,” said Burdiak.
Rodriguez said her lessons “really relate back to experiences that you would have on a normal basis,” and she did “a good job of explaining how things work.”
Birtman’s connection to LFHS runs deep, with two kids Callie and Matt Birtman currently enrolled.
With her retirement comes the end of “reciting speeches in order to get you out of your comfort zone,” which was Michael’s favorite part of her class.
It also comes with an end to the funny moments in the English office where “[English teachers] would get her laughing to the point of tears” according to English teacher Meghan Laughlin.
Her retirement also comes with life advice.
“I am the eternal optimist. I always think tomorrow will be a better day. At LFHS everybody has a story. The relationships between students and teachers re real. It’s genuine. That’s what makes us different from other schools,” said Birtman.
And as her new chapter comes to a close and inevitably a new teacher will replace her, Birtman knows that interpersonal relationships will advance not only learning but a person’s life as a whole.
“Everyone comes to this place with a different perspective and experience, tapping into that makes us have a some depth and breath to our lives.”