Kathleen Shea retires from OLH/St. Luke School
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 12:34

Secretary was at school for 42 years

by John G. Bailey

    If one person has shaped the character of Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke School more than anyone else, it may be Kathleen Shea.
    After 42 years of service as the secretary, Shea retired earlier this month.
    “She’s the heart of the school,” longtime second-grade teacher Janet Myers told The Eagle.
    Many of the students whom Shea dealt with in later years are the children of parents whom she ministered to when they themselves attended the school during her tenure.
    Shea knew all students by name. Since 1972, when she started at the school, she got to know each of them by greeting students every morning in the office.
    “And she wouldn’t go home at the end of the day until the last student had left, no matter what time it was,” Myers said.
    She was active with faculty as well; planning events, helping  teachers find things and making sure they were caught up on paperwork.
    “She was like a mother to teachers,” said Myers, who knew Shea both as a teacher and as a student.
    Shea witnessed all the small and large changes at the school over the years. Her career spans the tenures of four principals, serving Sister Irene Pryle, the current principal, the longest.
   

She mustered in the rapid and revolutionary transformation of office technology at the school, despite the challenges faced by many people born before the Internet age. She first worked with a manual typewriter in 1972 but left the school as master of the latest software.
    “I took things one day at a time,” Shea confided.
    Students have changed, too. The closing of other Catholic schools has increased the number of students from outside the Dundalk area.
    “They are more active, as well, than students used to be,” Shea commented. “They’re interested in more things, it seems.”
    One of the highlights of her career was the day her grandson, Christopher, visited the school last year as a veteran of the Afghanistan War.
    While overseas, he and his unit were the grateful recipients of a large flag made by OLH/St. Luke students with their handprints.
    “The kids treated him like a rock star,” recalled Myers. “Mrs. Shea was so excited.”
    The school honored Shea for her long service during a luncheon on June 11. In lieu of gifts, each teacher will take her bowling, to a movie, dinner or on some other outing.