SIDNEY — Sister Ginny Scherer seems a little embarrassed about all the hoopla. Her focus has always been her students rather than herself, but her retirement after 58 years in the classroom is certainly something to celebrate.
“I’m not sure where the years have gone,” said Scherer. “I don’t feel my age because the Lord has blessed me with good health.” The long-time head of the Science Department at Lehman Catholic High School does not seem like an octogenarian either. When one is teaching advanced level Chemistry and Physics classes, one has to stay on one’s toes.
“You’ve got to keep up,” said Scherer. “I have always belonged to professional organizations and read professional journals. I go to seminars and conventions. Basic science principles haven’t changed but there are new developments and of course, technologies.”
Technology is the thing that Scherer points to when discussing how students are different today than when she started her career. “I think sometimes they rely on technology too much,” she said. “They tend to jump right away to a calculator or computer to solve a problem and don’t use their heads. They have to understand that the most technological asset they have is their brain!”
Scherer also pointed to how technology has affected personal relationships, citing social media and computer games among the many distractions and challenges for teens in today’s world.
“Otherwise, they haven’t changed that much,” she said. “I still love working with them. They are so enthusiastic, so full of joy.”
A native of Cincinnati, Scherer entered the Sisters of Charity in 1958 and began her teaching career at St. Louis High School in Mount Clemens, Michigan. After four years there, she was assigned to Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, where she taught for two years. She then came to Holy Angels High School in Sidney and in 1970, that school would consolidate with Piqua Catholic High School to become Lehman. In 1977, Scherer left Sidney to spend ten years at Marion Catholic in Marion, Ohio, before returning to Lehman to stay.
Of her 41 years at Lehman, Scherer admits she has had a long run but she is not finished yet. In retirement, she plans to work on projects related to Lehman’s history and continue coaching the school’s Science Olympiad team. One of her passions since her return to Lehman, the team has been very successful in regional and state competition.
Unlike athletics and other competitive high school events, Science Olympiad does not classify entrants by school size. All schools compete together and only 40 are chosen from regionals to advance to the state level. Although often one of the smallest schools if not the smallest, Lehman has been one of those 40 schools 25 times since Scherer started coaching the team in 1988.
“When colleague Bob Tenney asked me to take over Science Olympiad, I wasn’t sure what I was in for,” said Scherer. “But I found several engineers among our Lehman parents who were excited to volunteer to help the students prepare. Some kept helping long after their own kids graduated and that certainly has been important to our success.”
Lehman’s Science Department has also received the prestigious Governor’s Award (now called the Governor’s Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in Student Research and STEM Education) every year since Scherer returned to the school.
Staying at one place for so long has given Scherer the chance to keep in contact with former students, some of whom are now parents and even grandparents of those in her classes today.
“I really enjoy going to class reunions,” said Scherer. “Sometimes I get notes from former students and there are surprises like one who is now a chemist and let me know how my class inspired him to enter that profession. You never know who you are influencing.”
A resident of Piqua, retirement will give Scherer a little more time to devote to hobbies like gardening, walking, and reading. She will also do some work at the Piqua Parishes of St. Mary and St. Boniface like taking communion to the sick and volunteering at the Bethany Center.
The close of the school year has brought several opportunities to toast what Scherer has meant to the Lehman Community. Last Friday, the students gathered after the weekly school Mass to cheer her on as she drove a Lehman bus around the school and through an oversized paper sign reading “Cruising to Retirement.”
This coming Friday, May 21, Lehman will kick off its official 50th anniversary celebration, postponed from 2020 because of the pandemic. A video presentation will be shown in the Schlater Family Gymnasium beginning at 7:30 p.m. There will be a salute to Scherer and fellow faculty member Henry Cordonnier and Principal Denise Stauffer who are also retiring from the school. Food trucks and beverages will be available on site and the evening will include a Honk Out Parade for the Class of 2021 and fireworks. The public is invited to attend.
“My motto for my students has always been “never settle for less than your best’ and that is what God asks of all of us,” said Scherer. Known to all as Sister Ginny, this dynamite teacher has certainly done her best to impact generations of students.