English Teacher Kathryn Pokalo retires from Conestoga

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By Hiba Samdani Lee, Photography Editor

English teacher Kathryn Pokalo will be retiring this year after teaching at Conestoga for 21 years.  Pokalo has taught a wide variety of English courses and acquired meaningful experience from teaching here.

“I’ve learned patience, but that may have come with age, and I’ve learned more fully about where and when to take risks,” Pokalo said.

Although Pokalo will miss spending her final days with her friends and colleagues, she feels as if the period of quarantine helped her transition into her retirement. 

“The time spent working remotely since the quarantine started has sort of eased the pain of separation that is inevitable. So in some ways, retiring now is a bit easier emotionally,” Pokalo said.

After retirement, Pokalo plans to travel, expand her craft business, and volunteer through local literacy programs. Currently, she runs a business in which she makes wool felt fabric. She purchases wool fiber from a company in Kentucky and uses the fabric to design and sew small purses and accent pillows. More recently, she started a new line of holiday greeting cards and embellishes the felt fabric with hand and machine-sewn embroidery. Retiring will give her more time to experiment with designs and build her online presence. 

“I wanted to develop a business that would keep me busy and interested and through which I could explore creative ways of producing useful objects,” Pokalo said.

Pokalo advises teachers to learn their students’ names and to always look for new learning opportunities. Although this piece of advice may seem simple, Pokalo feels learning names helps create stronger bonds between students and teachers.

“This bit of advice has served me well,” Pokalo said. “ It’s the most fundamental thing upon which to base a relationship, letting the students know that they are valued enough that someone has learned their name.” 


Hiba Samdani can be reached at [email protected]