May 26, 2011
Leon High bids Walberg farewell after 39 years
By Ashley Amesm, DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
For Connie Walberg, retiring from a profession that she has dedicated 39 years of her life to is bittersweet.
"I love teaching," the Leon High School teacher said emphatically. "If I knew that I was going to have a certain amount of time, 20 or 30 years more to live and be in good health, I'd keep teaching another 10."
A group of Walberg's friends and co-workers gathered at Chez Pierre on Wednesday afternoon to send the veteran teacher off with a bang. Walberg has spent her entire career at Leon High School, since she started as an intern in the early '70s. Leon High principal Rocky Hanna actually had her as an instructor.
"Connie Walberg has been one of the cornerstones at Leon High School over the last four decades," he said. "Over 39 years, she has taught and inspired thousands and thousands of young lives, including mine."
Walberg has taught a variety of classes, ranging from English to humanities to psychology. Her passion, however, is art history, something that she shares with her students in the classroom and on her annual trip to Europe. For 32 years, the majority of her teaching career, she has chaperoned a month-long trip to London, Paris, Rome and Florence for local students.
Sheila Costigan, who has known and been close friends with Walberg since 1980, said the teacher is in a class of her own.
"Her heart is filled with so much goodness," she said. "She helps every kid, every day. She gives everyone a chance to become something larger than they ever thought they could be."
Walberg, 60, has been teaching in Leon County for almost two-thirds of her life. She said she will truly miss her students.
"I'm all about forming relationships with my students. I care about them, so not having that connection is going to be very, very difficult," she said.
She is looking forward to having time to travel with her husband, Jerry, and volunteering in the community.
"You don't replace a Connie Walberg," Hanna said, adding that the school and students she has connected with will always remember her. "Her legacy will live forever in these halls — and in the spirit of what we do best at Leon — and that's educating kids."