The Wonder Years : Reflections of a Retiree

Posted by Colleen Pacatte on 4/27/2018 7:00:00 AM

The Wonder Years: Reflections of a Retiree 

Mrs. Romie Bloom, Prairie Trail School, Technology Teacher

The other day Dr. Pacatte asked me to blog about my pending retirement; I initially declined. “Just answer a few questions about…”  We have known each other since our high school days at Warren. I am more than pleased to say that we are friends, so I submitted. After all, my family and I have grown up here. My husband, Chuck, was in the first graduating class at Viking in 1971, and our children (Tori, Troy, and Teja) are all proud alumni of D56. We have a lifetime of fond memories and cherished friendships that are deeply rooted in this community. So here it goes…


What will you do when you retire? 

There are 11 of us retiring this year. Collectively, we have dedicated over 222 years to D56.  I am sure that I am not the only one who plans to:

  • spend more time with family and friends 

(especially with my grand-daughter, Maisy)

  • travel (anywhere with sandy beaches)
  • pursue interests and hobbies (read books other than those listed in the annual Bluestem Challenge)
  • enjoy nature’s gifts of each season (snow for about 1 week)

 Maisey & Me

What will you miss the most? 


  • the first (and last) day of school
  • connections to my students and their families
  •   collaboration of ideas among students and teachers
  • camaraderie of talented and fun colleagues

PT Pals

PT Pals 2


What won’t you miss?

  • A clock that dictates my daily routine: get up, go to sleep, eat lunch at 10:30 AM (UGH-no time for restroom, AGAIN!)
  • Misconceptions that teachers work less than 8 hours a day with 3 months off for summer vacation (time used preparing for the next school day or year)
  • What to wear! No need for a work wardrobe (I’ll keep the shoes ; )
  • Blood-borne pathogens training modules…


What changes in education have you seen during your career?

The most obvious change is the integration of technology. When I was a student, my teacher was my Google. Encyclopedias and other resource materials were located in the library. Apple Computers, Inc. was founded the year I started college and my Masters in Educational Technology was a newly created program when I began my career here at D56. With fluid and unfiltered content of the internet literally available at our fingertips, students must know how to discern and curate digital information for its relevancy and accuracy. Teachers now prepare our children to navigate and leverage content, both online and off, to become responsible, productive global citizens 24 hours a day.


What does it feel like to wrap up your teaching career?

To be completely honest, it feels surreal. I have deflected questions about retiring because it’s too emotional for me to think what my life will be like as I step away from what I love - teaching children. I truly wonder where the years went. As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher. I dreamed of someday walking in their shoes…well, theirs were a  bit more “sensible” than mine. 


In no way could I have imagined that when I came to this country at the age of 5, speaking only Japanese, that my hopes of becoming a teacher would ever come to fruition. Back then, there weren’t other children in my school that looked like me and, certainly, there were no teachers that shared my cultural background or spoke my language. Yet, year after year, I had the good fortune to have compassionate teachers who expanded my world with experiential learning, welcomed my diverse perspective, and inspired me to pursue my passion. I tried to honor their legacy by encouraging my students to set their compass to determine their own path. Education empowered me to choose my life’s journey; that’s why our district’s motto, “Education that Inspires...Opportunities for All”, resonates so personally. 

Romie Dance


I am still most humbled when students and their families share that I, in some way, had a positive impact on their school experience. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing that our time together left a valued impression beyond the parameters of our classroom. I have been around long enough that I now teach along side them as my peers or have their children in my classroom or both! Our district’s Director of Technology, Phil Hintz, is an example - I was his 6th grade teacher and have taught his children…how did HE get so OLD?!!

Daniella Alba

As I walk out the doors of Prairie Trail School on May 29th, I will forever be grateful to Gurnee District 56. So many to thank, too many to mention by name. It truly has been privilege to have partnered with an unparalleled team of school board members, administrators, PTO, office, technology, transportation, custodial, and lunchroom staff. My heartfelt gratitude to my gracious colleagues throughout our district, to my talented and loving Prairie Trail family, and especially to my generous and supportive students and their families - past and present, who have been entrusted in my care. You have been an integral part of my life for over 20 years, filling my spirit with immeasurable joy.  

I will miss you.

Bloom Family


“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”Winnie-the-Pooh