Liberty staff retirees will be missed

As the school year approaches a close, some Liberty staff plan to hang up the their room keys for good. Below are some of these staff who we want to celebrate.

Lucas Counts and Hannah Kim

Mark Buchli

Commanding the class’s attention with his colorful lectures on topics from stoichiometry to chia seeds, it is hard for anyone to forget their time in science teacher Mark Buchli’s class.

 Since August of 2000, Buchli has been a hallmark of not just Liberty’s science department, but Liberty as a whole. Now, after twenty-two years of teaching at Liberty, surviving a massive school re-model, innovating creative online lessons through a global pandemic, and thirty-eight years of teaching under his belt, Buchli has made the bittersweet decision to retire. 

“There were so many factors at play that led to me wanting to retire. But none more important than realizing that it’s just the right time. I have a great group of kids this year and I wanted to end on a high note,” Buchli said. 

However, this school year hasn’t been the only highlight of Buchli’s time at Liberty. Buchli has joined and helped create many enriching projects like the cosmic ray program, aquaponic setup, a research class, and Liberty Physettes Club. Because of Buchli’s dedication to cultivating science education during and after school hours, he was awarded the Amgem Science Teaching Excellence Award in 2012. Yet despite all of these accolades, Buchli’s greatest reward is his students. 

“I’ve had some amazing students. I really commend these kids for challenging themselves to work hard. And I will always remember the appreciation the kids show for the work I do, the energy I put in, and the advice I give,” Buchli said. 

Although Buchli is certainly proud of his time at Liberty, it didn’t come without facing some challenges. 

“There are many hardships that come with teaching. There will be students who are afraid to break out of their comfort zone and get engaged with a level of learning that will push them. But, at the end of the day, we are here to challenge each other and grow,” Buchli said. 

Through reflecting on Buchli’s career, Liberty is only able to see a kernel of the impact and dedication Buchli has contributed to this school. However, every journey must come to an end. 

“I always start my day with breakfast at Liberty, but it’s time for me to change my routine. I am planning to travel the desert southwest soon into retirement. After that I hope to volunteer my skills as a lab tech at a local high school in my free time,” Buchli said. 

JoAnn Olsson

For many students at Liberty, the library is a sacred space. The perfect place to study a treasure trove of books—newly released and cherished classics—and an excellent resource for research. Liberty’s utopia of a library is all due thanks to the hard dedication of school librarian JoAnn Olsson. 

Olsson began her position as a librarian during the 2010-2011 school year after a long career as a middle school history and English teacher. Finally, after twelve years of teaching at Liberty, Olsson has made the decision to retire. 

“Quite frankly, I’m retiring because I’m really old! I love Liberty, I really do, but I am at an age where I need to retire,” Olsson said. “I was planning to retire last year, but because of the pandemic, I decided to come back for one last good year.”

Although Olsson is wholeheartedly ready to move on to the next chapter in her life, she admits that she will miss her contributions to the National History Day competition. 

“I love seeing the creative ideas students come up with to showcase great moments in history. I used to take kids to nationals for the competition and it was a lot of fun. It’s always rewarding to see those kids come back and appreciate the experience as much as I did,” Olsson said. 

While the National History Day competition will certainly be missed, Olsson cites Liberty’s staff and students as what she will miss the most. 

“The positivity of the school is unmatched. I will definitely miss the people of Liberty the most,” Olsson said. 

Equally, Olsson will be missed among staff and students of Liberty as well. While Olsson’s departure from Liberty is bittersweet, she hopes to return to a life-long passion of hers: traveling. Olsson has plans to visit Fiji and Australia. 

Despite her impending globetrotting, the library is still a priority in Olsson’s mind, as she has high hopes for her predecessor. 

“I hope that the next librarian will bring a lot of new energy into this place and continue to focus on the research,” Olsson said. 

Julie Morgan

Starting around 2006, Julie Morgan began her first job at Liberty as a secretary in the counseling office. She served in that position for four years, before leaving Liberty for other work, spending stints working at other ISD middle and high schools. Morgan returned in 2018 as a secretary in the main office after she victoriously won her battle with cancer. Now, Morgan is excited to finally retire and spend time with her brand new grandchild Annamarie Isla Doellefeld. Speaking fondly of her time at Liberty, “I will really miss the community at Liberty.”

Jeanette Werre

Jeanette Werre, Liberty’s seasoned counseling office secretary, began work as the vice principal’s assistant in 2007 serving in her position for three years before a six-year tenure at Issaquah High School as the counseling secretary. Following her work at IHS, Werre returned to Liberty in 2015, where she has been working ever since. She is excited to retire at the end of the school year and spend time with her new grandchild. Reflecting on her favorite Liberty memories, ”I cherish the memories of my daughter—PE teacher Kelsey Foote—coming into the counselor’s office in between classes to ask, ‘How are you doing, Mom?’ I loved that so much,” Werre said. 

Laurie Engelbeck

For the last year at Liberty, Laurie Engelbeck, a veteran ISD psychologist of 19 years, has been working with teachers and students to develop plans that enable everyone to succeed. Formerly a clinical psychologist, Engelbeck made a career switch to be a school psychologist, a close resemblance to her childhood dream job of being a school counselor. Talking through her responsibilities, “I do a lot of evaluations,” Engelbeck said. “When a student is struggling, it’s my job to try and figure out why and what the school can do to better equip them to be successful. Sometimes that means getting the student extra time on tests or a 504.” Looking forward to retiring from the job she loves, “I don’t really have a plan yet, but want to do some volunteering with my free time.”

Rebecca Ragland

A former social worker, Rebecca Ragland always knew she wanted to do something with psychology but didn’t know what until she learned she could work with students. “I love working with the students,” Ragland said. Planning on leaving the school district after six years at Liberty and looking at transitioning from her field into something new, “I’m really going to miss the staff. We have an awesome staff and I’ve enjoyed getting to know a lot of the staff and counselors,” Ragland said. “I love helping teens plan for life after high school. I’m going to miss doing that.”