Beloved Teacher, Catherine Garris Retires


Peter LaCount, Advisor

An Interview with Catherine Garris, teacher emeritus at the Homewood Center

A few months ago, Ms. Catherine Garris retired after teaching 37 years at The Homewood Center. Ms. Garris was born in Washington DC. Her father was in the military and her family quickly moved to Europe and remembers speaking French before speaking English. Sadly, she says, she no longer remembers any of the French. She has degrees in Special Education from the University of Maryland and Applied Behavioral Science from Johns Hopkins. Prior to Homewood she worked at NASA, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Defense. She reports loving Mediterranean foods. While at Homewood she taught Modern World History, Math, Credit Recovery, Psychology, Living on Your Own and Earth Science.

Recently, she took some time to answer questions about her 37 years at Homewood.

Do you remember your first day at Homewood? What was it like?

It was just Gateway at that time. Generally, I remember it was in the old building further down on Rt. 108. There were only a handful of staff. The High School consisted of 3 General Ed teachers, and 1 Special Ed teacher. Same for the middle school. I remember being excited about being a teacher and wanting to do a good job.

Do you have one or two most memorable moments?

I was in the old building when the space shuttle carrying the first teacher in space launched. The program was so small we could fit all the high school students in one room. We were gathered in a classroom watching the takeoff on television. We were so excited, then tragedy struck, when the shuttle crashed. A very sad day. Same with 911, it was a beautiful day, then all heck broke loose. Both memorable days. On a brighter note the first Recycled Treasure Sale was a memorable day. It was amazing, I had never seen anything like it. The donated gifts, the joyful students and staff, the volunteers and all the good will and joy was amazing to see.

What was your biggest success? Biggest disappointment?

I feel like my biggest success is when I work with students, and they finally get it that the teachers are on their side, and they start to work with us towards their success and ultimately graduate! I love to see students graduate. My biggest disappointment is when the opposite happens. Students don’t let us help them reach their potential and they don’t graduate. I wonder what I did wrong and It makes me sad for them.

How many students do you think you have taught during your time at Homewood?

That is a good question. Hmm, if I had about 20 students a year, for

37 years, that’s 740! That seems like a lot, but I think it might be close.

What do you enjoy most about retirement?

Not getting up to an alarm clock and doing things at a relaxed pace.