By Gracie Lienemann and Susanna Shepard
The 2019 to 2020 school year came to an abrupt ending, unlike any other school year that students and teachers have ever experienced. Similar to other school years, however, several of Godwin’s beloved teachers and faculty members will be leaving.
Among the faculty members leaving are psychology teacher Mark Seidenberg, math teacher Rob White, math and computer science teacher John Mustachio, math teachers Dana Walker and Debbie Jones, physics teacher Lexi Bach, economics and personal finance teacher Sandi Dunkum, Godwin police officer Clay Woodcock, and exceptional education teacher Lynsie Levay.
Seidenberg is retiring after 30 years of teaching at Godwin and four years of teaching at Douglas Southall Freeman. He taught psychology, AP psychology, and general math.
Seidenberg will miss hanging out with his colleagues, math teacher Rob White and ___ teacher Hunter Thomas, who he’s been eating lunch with almost every day for the past 30 years. He will also miss Godwin events.
“I loved being in front of a class and discussing upcoming Godwin events or results from the night before or weekend. I loved to find out who participated in and attended MG activities.”
Seidenberg chose to teach high school because he loves helping students reach their next step in life. He wants them to do their best and give their all.
“One of my favorite things to do is my 100 percent board. After AP exams, I put up where seniors are going next year (mostly to college),” said Seidenberg.
During retirement, Seidenburg plans to read to elementary school students, continue to coach, go to athletic games, and to babysit.
He loved teaching generations of students, including his two daughters Sydney and Haylee. He loved his students and the joy he found in Godwin.
“ESL used to be in a room right next to me. One day, we had snow falling and I went out with their class because most of the students were seeing snow for the first time. The smiles on their faces were priceless.”
He enjoyed being with students, no matter when or where. He loved popping into classrooms and seeing some of his students.
Seidenberg also loved competition whether that was winning holiday door decorations, watching games, or participating in the traveling door contest. He remembers Thomas Threatt, Godwin’s custodian, riding the Zamboni cleaning machine carrying the decorated door while the rest of the class sang holiday songs.
According to Seidenberg, Godwin students experience personal growth during their high school years.
“I love that they feel they are getting a good education, they grew as individuals in their years at Godwin, and they have a love for their school that they want to do something productive in their lives. I love it when a student opens up in the class because it often helps someone in that class. If they open up to me then they trust me that I might listen and maybe help them.”
His parting advice to students is to pick a major they will like and enjoy it.
White is leaving after 30 years at Godwin and two years of teaching in Greene County, Virginia at an all-boys school called The Blue Ridge School.
White says his favorite memory working at Godwin would be “when a student came to me with an important life concern. Family stuff, social stuff, school stuff, or anything else. It’s not easy to approach adults with big-time worries, so it always meant the world to me. I’ll miss that.”
White has plans for retirement that include spending more time with his wife, Chris, going to the beach, playing board games, and visiting his kids.
White is looking forward to “finding a healthy balance in [his] life between family time, exercise, friend time, and solo time. As an extrovert who’s used to teaching, the transition to solo time takes some work.”
White has had two kids at Godwin during his teaching career that he got to watch grow up and graduate. White appreciated the way his children handled having their father as a teacher at their school.
“They handled having a crazy, geeky, goofy dad as a teacher at their school so well,” said White. “I’m sure I embarrassed them plenty, but they were really sweet about it. Love my kiddos!”
After 30 years at Godwin, White is going to keep the memories and friends he has made. He has loved teaching and has definitely made a lasting impact on Godwin that will not be forgotten.
“I laughed hard at school every single day. No lie. How many people can say that about their job? Sometimes it was a teaching or coaching pal like Coach Seidenberg, but usually, it was a student who’d say or do something goofy, silly, or clueless. I’ll miss the heck out of that. Laughing at work is underrated, I think,” said White.
When asked what he would tell a new teacher at Godwin, White said,
“Love must come first. Do you love your students, your subject, and the school? If ‘yes,’ then you can weather the inevitable setbacks and stay true to your loves.”
White’s advice to all of us is to “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Next, Mustachio will be leaving Godwin this year. Before teaching at Godwin, Mustachio taught at Woodbridge Senior High School for seven years, Staunton High School for one year, and Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School for four years. He has been teaching at Godwin for nine years. At Godwin, Mustachio has taught an assortment of math classes and AP Computer Science A.
His favorite Godwin memory has been observing the sense of community displayed by students at Godwin.
“Each year at Godwin HS, I would find myself telling others about the sense of warmth and compassion that students displayed during school dances and games,” said Mustachio. “It was heart-warming to witness the inclusion and care that students showed for others.”
For Mustachio, the highlight of his career at Godwin was starting the AP Computer Science A class and working to spread the class to other schools in Henrico.
After Godwin, Mustachio will begin a new job at CodeRVA as a computer science teacher.
“CodeRVA is a school that I have had my eye on since it first opened a few years ago. I am interested in the regional high school’s goal to increase the interest and access to computer science to the fourteen school systems that it serves, including Henrico County Schools,” said Mustachio.
According to Mustachio, Godwin students display interest in their learning, and Godwin staff members are devoted to education.
“I will miss the wonderful supportive staff, talented students, and amazing families,” said Mustachio.
Additionally, Walker will be leaving Godwin after one year to teach in Chesterfield. Prior to coming to Godwin, Walker taught at Trinity for four years, in Chesterfield for 11 years, and in Dinwiddie for two years.
At Godwin, Walker taught Algebra II. Next school year, Walker will be teaching Algebra I and geometry to eighth graders at Midlothian middle school.
A favorite Godwin memory of Walker’s was Battle Across Broad.
“It was a lot of fun playing in that basketball game,” said Walker.
According to Walker, she will miss the faculty and staff of Godwin, specifically Godwin principal Leigh Dunavant, associate principal Jessica Burbic, and the math department.
To her students, Walker wants to express her gratitude to them for making her time at Godwin a great memory.
“I’ve loved teaching each and every one of you this year. Thanks for making my year at Godwin such a great memory. I’m going to miss you all very much,” said Walker. “My parting advice is invest time in making sure that you are not just going through the motions to check something off your to-do list. Find the value in everything that you are assigned by your teachers. You will be much more successful students if you do this.”
Math teacher Debbie Jones is retiring after 35 years of teaching at Godwin and seven years of teaching at J.R. Tucker high school. She took a break from teaching in 1983 to be a stay at home mom to her twin girls. At Godwin, she taught Algebra I part two, Algebra II, geometry, and advanced algebra-trigonometry.
Her plans for retirement include spending time with her loved ones, playing the piano, singing, and traveling.
“I will be traveling with my husband, enjoying my four grandchildren and helping in their schools once they are school-age, spending time with my two sisters and two brothers and being active in my church.”
Jones has loved all the friendships she has made with her coworkers and the students she’s met over the course of her teaching career. She loves the community of Godwin and how welcoming and friendly everyone is.
“Godwin is a big family that lifts and supports you when you need help and celebrates you when life is good.”
As well as teaching many classes, she sponsored Keyettes, a service organization for girls for 21 years. She loved working with the girls and being a part of the organization.
“I will miss being a teacher. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. And, I will miss my students. You can’t be a teacher without having students.”
Jones’ parting advice to her students is to do what you love and always try your best. No matter how hard it gets, give the best to your endeavors.
Also leaving Godwin this year is Bach. Bach began her teaching career at Godwin and remained a teacher at the school for six years. In her years at Godwin, Bach has taught physics of all levels to 10th through 12th graders and oceanography.
Bach attended Godwin when she was a high school student.
“Once an Eagles, always an Eagle!” said Bach.
As a teacher, Bach particularly enjoyed the last month of each school year. She enjoys physics trips to Busch Gardens, prom, and graduation.
“I enjoyed being a part of the seniors last few weeks at Godwin,” said Bach.
Next year, Bach will be staying at home with her children.
“Teaching is a time consuming job and I want to be able to dedicate more time to my family,” said Bach.
Bach’s favorite memory from Godwin is the pranks that environmental science teacher Joshua McKeon and her fourth period pulled on her.
“One year, Mr. McKeon conspired with my fourth period to pull pranks on me during lunch and lunch study. Once, I found all the desks turned into a fortress,” said Bach. “Another time, they had hidden a bluetooth speaker in the ceiling and I could not figure out where the jeopardy music was coming from. I felt pretty silly, but it definitely brought lots of laughs for everyone!”
Bach values the strong relationships that Godwin teachers have with their students.
“It was a really special experience to have built relationships with teachers as a student and then expand those friendships when those same teachers became my colleagues,” said Bach.
According to Bach, students should remember that learning to have a strong work ethic and learning to be responsible for one’s decisions is an important part of high school.
“High school isn’t really about remembering every single thing you learned for each specific subject,” said Bach. “It’s about learning to work hard and learning to own your own choices. Take it from an Eagle, you won’t remember the details of school, but you will remember the choices you made.”
Economics and personal finance teacher Sandi Dunkum will be leaving Godwin after 13 years. Before Godwin, Dunkum taught for seven years for Petersburg Public Schools.
Before switching to teaching economics and personal finance, Dunkum taught the foods and wellness class at Godwin.
“I had some great times teaching foods and wellness. I loved cooking with the students,” said Dunkum. “Switching to economics and personal finance has been rewarding because I think it’s so important for high school students to learn about finance.”
After leaving Godwin, Dunkum will continue working for Dunkum Custom Homes with her husband.
According to Dunkum, what she will miss the most about Godwin is the students.
Dunkum’s advice to new teachers beginning their career at Godwin is to seek advice from other teachers.
“There are so many excellent teachers that can help you,” said Dunkum.
In addition, Woodcock will be retiring this year. Before becoming employed by Godwin, Woodcock worked for the Henrico County Sheriff’s Department and then as a school resource officer at Highland Springs high school.
Woodcock has worked at Godwin for 21 years. According to Woodcock, his career at Godwin was much more meaningful than just a job.
“I really appreciated being a part of the Godwin family, which includes the community of students and parents. This was more than a job to me, I always wanted to be a mentor to the students and genuinely cared about their success,” said Woodcock. “I also loved it when students returned to GHS after college or the military, and seeing them as successful adults. Of course, a victory over Deep Run HS is a highlight!”
According to Woodcock, he has many fond memories from Godwin and takes pride in the school.
“I will always remember the senior pranks, proms, talent shows and games,” said Woodcock. “I was always proud of ‘my school’ and excited to tell everyone about all of the great things that the school offered.”
Woodcock will miss the students, teachers, and faculty from Godwin. He also plans to stay involved in the Godwin community.
“Spending so many years at one school, everyone was like family to me. I plan to still attend some games and activities at the school. I want to stay in touch,” said Woodcock.
After working two jobs to get through college, Woodcock graduated from VCU with a degree in criminal justice. In his immediate family, he was the first to graduate from college. Having accomplished this, Woodcock assures students that they are capable of achieving their goals.
“If you have a dream, anyone can accomplish anything that they set their mind to,” said Woodcock.
*Note: Levay will also be retiring next year. At Godwin, Levay has taught English and exceptional education.