Time well spent

Oct. 15, 2018, 8:14 a.m. | By Nene Narh-Mensah | 5 years, 7 months ago

A retiring staff member looks back at her time at Blair

A senior by the name of Ilene Catzva sat outside of the principal's office with her head in her hands. She couldn't believe the pair of gray corduroy culottes, informally known as skorts, she was wearing had landed her into hot water. The dress code that limited girls to wear pants throughout high school had been relaxed, so why had that teacher sent her to the office? It wasn't the first time this had happened. She had been sent for wearing a slightly midriff-baring tank top by the same teacher as well. "It was traumatic at the time, because it was the first time I got in trouble," Catzva, one of Blair's librarians, recalls. Not much has changed about Catzva since then, but one thing is for certain: she has positively impacted many lives.

Not much has changed about Catzva since then, but one thing is for certain: she has positively impacted many lives. Photo courtesy of Sydney Hastings-Wilkins.

On Friday, Sept. 25 at 9 a.m., Catzva clocked in for her last day as a Blair staff member, marking the end of her 30-year career in education. Seated at a small table near the back of the library, the gray-haired media specialist was checking out computers to students while reminiscing on her walk of life.

One thing has been evident through Catzva's career: she values helping people. Before entering the field of education, Catzva worked as a certified ophthalmic technician, a fancy term for an eye doctor's assistant. She would do the preliminary eye tests and get measurements for contact lenses. "I loved that job; I would go back in a heartbeat," Catzva laughs. After leaving that job, Catzva worked at Piney Branch Elementary School, where she was a teaching assistant for 11 years and a librarian for four years. She would help underperforming kids gain on-level reading and math skills. For Catzva, the best part of her job was handling requests for students. "I love it when students come ask for help. It feels good to be needed," Catzva explains. After saying her farewells to Piney Branch, she found her way to Blair where, early on, she faced some difficulties.

Catzva had to overcome her shy nature to handle high school students. "The most challenging thing about my time here was dealing with students who are uncooperative. I had to learn to be more assertive," Catzva explains. Though the work could be stressful at times, seeing family at Blair made it all worthwhile. Catzva's daughter, Emily Putney, works in the counseling office at Blair, and the two would often talk about Catzva’s grandchildren.

While her career at Blair is coming to a close, Catzva's devotion to public service isn't stopping anytime soon. She's planning to volunteer for the Manna Food Bank, quilt, and to spend time with her lovely grandchildren.

Last updated: Oct. 15, 2018, 8:14 a.m.

Tags: Ilene Catzva retiring staff

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