BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Carolyn Vogtsberger will be saying goodbye to her Anthony Wayne High School coworkers on May 30, but she’ll never stop teaching.
“It’s in my heart. I’m always going to be a teacher. Whether it’s teaching my grandkids or learning a new way to do something, the teacher isn’t going to go away in me,” said Vogtsberger, who has taught grades 8-10 geometry and algebra since 1987.
“It’s a job I’ve loved so much. I’ve gotten so much from it, and I’ve given so much,” she said, as she surveyed the second-floor classroom that’s filled with colorful graphics and posters that date back through her 36-year career.
Growing up, then-Carolyn Pennell lived on Obee Road and attended Whitehouse Primary School until her father, Roger, bought a farm in Liberty Center. A self-described tomboy, she played basketball, baseball and football with the boys. By the time she was a Liberty Center High School student, she was lettering in five sports: basketball, cross country, softball, track and volleyball. She decided she wanted to be a teacher.
“I had one friend who said, ‘You don’t want to be a teacher. Don’t you want to be something more important?’” she recalled. “It took just one semester in college to know that I was meant to be a teacher. I knew I picked the right profession because it didn’t seem like work.”
While at Ohio Northern University, she majored in math and earned her teaching certification. She was also a utility player – on second base, at shortstop and in the outfield – for the softball team, traveling nationally at a time when that was rare. The team made it to the Division III tournament.
She married Larry Vogtsberger soon after college and landed a job teaching math at Anthony Wayne High School in 1987.
“It was always like coming home. Coming here, it just fit right from the beginning,” she said.
Her daughter, Kim, was born in the spring of 1988 and her job was cut that summer. Vogtsberger started looking, but by November another math teacher had resigned and she was called back. A few years later, she was able to put her college course on softball coaching to good use.
“Bill Baldridge (the athletic director) approached me and said, ‘Rumor is you know something about softball. We need a coach. I’ll buy you new uniforms.’ I wasn’t thinking about coaching, but decided to do it,” she said.
At first, the players told her that she was too strict.
“I was really tough and goal-oriented. I’m organized and I pushed them. Some of them were not used to it,” she said.
Vogtsberger credits the great athletes, families and community for helping her build up the program as she coached from 1991 to 2006 and 2010 to 2013.
In 2003, the girls won the district’s only team Ohio High School Athletic Association state title.
“It’s funny that some of those girls are 38 years old now,” she smiled. “Kim was a freshman on the team that year.”
Another memorable event was in July 1992, when a tornado ripped the roof off of the Anthony Wayne High School south building – what is now the junior high – where Vogtsberger’s second-floor classroom was.
“We were coming back from vacation, and we drove by. There were lines of cars looking at the damage,” she recalled. “The roof was off my room, but the posters were still hanging.”
When a second floor was added to the high school, Vogtsberger and other high school teachers moved over, leaving the old south building to become a dedicated junior high.
One of the benefits of living and working in the district was having her own children in her building. It didn’t bother them, she said.
“They would come ask me for lunch money or let me know if they needed something,” she said.
Kim Amstutz, Class of 2006, is now a science teacher at Clay High School and has two children – 5-year-old Case and 2-year-old Elizabeth. Bradley graduated in 2010, works for John Deere and lives in Cincinnati with his wife and 8-month-old son, Landen. Brian, a 2012 graduate, is living in College Station, Texas, working remotely for a company that makes software for clinical trials.
Now that she’s retiring, Vogtsberger will have time to visit her three children and three grandchildren and travel via motorhome this summer to visit national parks with Kim. She also will have more time to enjoy fitness, cooking and reading.
A Monclova Township resident, she still plans to stay involved with softball, doing the scorebooks this season for Ron Myers, who took over as coach the season after her husband, Larry, suddenly passed in 2012.
“I’m not one to sit still. Maybe I’ll become too busy,” she said of retirement. “I’m totally blessed to have a job that I’ve loved so much. This has been a wonderful fit in a great school system.”