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Swickard’s Time Comes Full Circle

Ellen Swickard has found the formula for success teaching chemistry, physics and other sciences at Edison High School for the past 40 years, and now it’s time for her to say goodbye.

     Swickard officially retired on May 31 after decades within Edison’s schools, coming full circle from her days as a student to returning to teach hundreds of others in schools throughout the district. The Pleasant Hill resident graduated as valedictorian from Jefferson Union High School in 1980, then she attended Mount Vernon Nazarene College (now University) with the intent of following her mother’s footsteps as a nurse. However, her interest would eventually shift to education.

   “The program at Mount Vernon was only for two years and I would have to transfer to do my clinicals, so I chose not to do it,” she said. “I love science and math. During my freshman year, I received a chemistry award and it solidified that I’d major in chemistry. By the end of my sophomore year, I knew I wanted to teach it.”

     She remained at the top of the class, graduating as salutatorian in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She began teaching at Springfield High School in the fall of 1984 and went on to gain her master’s degree in secondary education from the University in 1990, graduating summa cum laude.

   “I started at Springfield High School for four years and then continued at Edison South. I came to this school in 1988,” she said. “I taught chemistry, physics, eighth-grade Earth science, ninth-grade physics and upper level Earth science.”

   She had an offer to teach elsewhere but remained at Edison because it also afforded the opportunity to live at home, where she still resides. Swickard estimates that she has taught roughly 4,000 pupils during her tenure and has watched many venture into professional careers from pharmacists and nurses to researchers and college professors.

    “The one thing I’ve not had is someone becoming a chemistry teacher. One of the phrases I’ve told my students is ‘Everything comes back to chemistry. It explains nature and health and it can all be traced back to protons, neutrons and electrons.”

     Her classroom at EHS includes an adjoining lab filled with books, beakers, Erlenmeyer flasks, Florence flasks, funnels and more, but it has also become a second home. She did attempt to retire in 2015, but that would only last a day and she returned as a retire/rehire. This time, she does plan to step away for good.

   “I will take it one day at a time and get caught up on things I’ve pushed aside,” she said, which includes spending time with family and traveling. “This has been my home, and I’ve probably spent more time here in this building than I have at home making sure the kids are ready.”

   She was the featured speaker during the school’s 2024 Honors Breakfast on May 24, sharing pearls of wisdom about making good choices in life. She brought tears to some and a standing ovation at the end, leaving an indelible mark on the people around her. Swickard noted that while she is grateful for the people she worked with and the students she’s taught throughout the years, the ultimate litmus test is seeing how former pupils succeed after high school.

   “It’s always wonderful to see the graduates succeed in their chosen fields. That’s always a plus,” she concluded. “My evaluation is how they are doing in college. I tell them to always do your best.”

State Test Scores Now Available in Progressbook

As part of our ongoing effort to keep you informed about your child’s academic progress, we want to inform you that you now have access to their state test score results through ProgressBook, our online student management system. The district believes that by having access to this information, you can better support your child’s academic journey and work collaboratively with us to ensure their success. If you have any questions or need further assistance with ProgressBook or understanding the state test scores, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your building.

Visit ProgressBook Parent Portal and navigate to “Assessment Scores” on the left hand menu to view your child’s scores.

Thank you for your continued partnership in your child’s education. Together, we can empower them to be prepared for tomorrow.