Three staff members retire, look to future

Aaliyah Solano, Editor-in-Chief

Nicole Walker, physics teacher, Gracie Contreras, registrar, and Audrey Stein, bookkeeper, will retire at the end of this school year.

After 25 years of work at PCHS, Walker is ready.

“I submitted my retirement papers while I was going through chemotherapy. It was a very difficult time for me to keep up the positive attitude. I realized that none of us has a guaranteed number of days. Every day that you wake up on the ‘right side of the grass’ is a gift,” Walker said.

Walker spent a majority of her time here as a physics teacher.

“Mrs. Walker’s passion for Physics is unmatched. She was always finding new ways to make the material come to life,” math and science department head Brittany Zettergren said.

Walker’s dedication for her craft is truly admirable.

“It would not be uncommon for her to spend late evenings and weekends working on a new way to teach a concept,” Joseph Schertz, assistant principal, said.

Her relationships with her students and colleagues demonstrate how Walker strives for everyone to succeed.

“Every class that you teach and each one that you prepare material for contains a teaching moment, and I feel that “I owe them” my very best effort. So I work diligently to deliver nothing less. Mistakes are not to be avoided but embraced. My greatest growth can be the silver lining of my mistakes. I love to learn. Teaching students how to love learning is a lifelong gift,” Walker said.

Walker already has plans for after officially retiring.

“Every day’s a Saturday! Covid prevented traveling to see the grandkids. We plan to make up for lost hugs. I plan to do a LOT of genealogy. I love family trees and have written a 270-page book on my maiden name. I enjoy preserving my ancestor’s life story so that they are more than a birth and death date on a tombstone,” Walker said.

Contreras also has plans in mind for retiring after 15 years in the district.

“I started at PSD 202 as a District Registrar in 2007, then moved on to PEHS. I transferred to PCHS when there was a vacancy which would be closer to home,” Contreras said.

Contreras’s decision comes after 6 years at PCHS.

“My children are getting married, having babies, buying homes and I’d like to be more available for them and being involved with my grandchildren,” Contreras said.

Contreras’s kind personality does not go unnoticed in the building.

“Gracie is the first person, first impression a new family has when they enter our school. She is always kind, patient, and knowledgeable in answering questions and directing them to the next steps,” Jonathan Puklin, assistant principal said.

Although Stein loves her job, she felt it was time to spend more time with her boys and their families.

“They live in some great places to visit. Although two are in Plainfield, Jimmy is in Austin Texas, Robert and Adam are in Portland Oregon. Jim’s brother is in Washington Crossing.”