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MIHS graduates return to teach
Mercer Island High School is welcoming back three of its own students this fall as teachers. MIHS graduates Susan Rindlaub, Amie Fahey and Shannon Verschueren will join five other Islanders — Lee Jahncke, Jamie Prescott, Tony Scaringi, Brett Ogata and Karen Sherwood — who have returned to teach at the school that taught them.
“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Rindlaub said of teaching English and coaching MIHS volleyball.
An alumnae of the Class of 2000, Rindlaub was a star volleyball player for MIHS. As co-captain, she led the team through two Kingco Championships in a row and its first District title in 10 years. This fall, Rindlaub will be coaching alongside her former assistant coach, Dino Annest, who has mentored the MIHS grad in the classroom as well.
Last spring, Rindlaub worked as an assistant teacher for Annest and his Social Studies block partners, Eric Ayrault and Curtis Johnston. The experience — her first in the classroom since graduate school — only strengthened Rindlaub’s desire to teach at MIHS. During her last week of student-teaching, Rindlaub was invited to interview for a permanent position.
“It was the perfect scenario for me. I wanted to end up here but I just never really thought it could happen,” she said. “I think that they appreciate the loyalty of students coming back here.”
Rindlaub earned a master’s in teaching from Seattle University. Prior to that, she attended the University of San Diego as an undergraduate. The MIHS alumnae will be teaching freshman English and sophomore world history.
Fahey is another MIHS alumnae, yet her memories of the high school go back to a different decade, “when the Mushroom was still around,” she said with a laugh.
Attending MIHS in the late 1980s, Fahey has seen much change at the Island school — all for the better.
“The commons, the new school — everything looks wonderful,” the 1990 graduate said. “I’m so excited to be here. Everyone I work with is awesome.”
After receiving her teacher’s certificate from Central Washington University, Fahey took time off to raise a family. She and her husband, Chris, are residents on Mercer Island with both of their children in Island schools. Her eldest daughter, Abby, is a second-grader at West Mercer Elementary and her son, Eli, attends preschool at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.
“I always knew I would go back to teaching once my kids were in school,” Fahey said.
With a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in family and consumer sciences, Fahey was hired to teach Image, child development and yoga at the high school. She will be working part-time this year, enabling her to spend some hours at home with her young children. Nearly 10 years after leaving the classroom, Fahey is eager to begin her teaching career.
“One of the biggest things is the sense of community,” she said about returning to Mercer Island. “Coming back as a parent, I feel that even stronger now than before.”
In the spring of 2002, just weeks before graduating, Verschueren was voted “Most likely to Never Leave Mercer Island” by her fellow seniors. Six years later, she laughs at the self-fulfilled prophecy. Having attended Island schools since Sunnybeam and Pixie Hill preschools, Verschueren — like Fahey — shares a deep sentiment for her community.
“I’m hoping to give back the positive energy that people exude here. They want their kids to be the best, and I want to show them my best,” the 2002 grad said.
A graduate of Gonzaga University, Verschueren has two degrees in education: one specializing in elementary education and another in special education. This year, she will get to use her experience in the latter, splitting her day between the high school special education room and the resource room at Crest.
More than anything, Verschueren said she is thrilled to be working with some of the teachers she looked up to as a student.
“I feel like it’s a huge compliment to my teachers to have graduates from Mercer Island return because they’ve been so inspirational in our lives,” she said. “Teachers are like parents. When something bad happens, you always have them to turn to. I loved my teachers.”
Rindlaub, Fahey and Verschueren are three of more than 30 new staff members within the district. According to Superintendent Gary Plano, this is the first time in recent years that every teaching position has been filled by the first day of classes. Plano and his fellow administrative team members welcomed all of Mercer Island’s teachers — old and new — back to school at a barbecue last Thursday. The casual gathering is a new tradition Plano began this year.