Chantilly sends off another year of retirees to future adventures

Ted Thomas, Academics Editor

Every year teachers retire and leave the school to start their own new adventures. Losing them, however, is never easy for the school. With a final send-off message, we say goodbye to all the retiring teachers this year.

“Congratulations! Appreciate all the great things that have happened and all that you have accomplished, but now this is the next part of your journey,”  Principal Teresa Johnson said. “Embrace the unknown because that is probably the scariest part.”

Good luck wherever life finds you and thanks for all that you have done for us.



Animal science teacher Janet Kolakoski has made a lasting impact on Chantilly during her 28 years teaching here. Providing more than just the adventure of working with pets, and managing the chaos of grooming days with a smile, Kolakoski has inspired many to pursue their own dreams, being that of animal care, teaching or both.

“[Animal science teacher Ashley] Spinetto was in my class [in 2002] and McGlensey [Antonucci, who will teach animal science next year] graduated in 2004,” Kolakoski said. “It was just lucky that we found Spinetto last year and we have been working together for the past two years. Now she is going to have to teach McGlensey everything to keep the program going.”

Animals have been a lifelong passion for Kolakoski as she worked at a kennel before becoming a teacher.

“[Before I started teaching,] I was working at a boarding kennel. [I have been working there] since I was in high school. I am still going to do a couple of days here and there [once I retire],” Kolakoski said. “I am [also] hopefully going to play with my new puppy. Her name is Gee and she is an English springer spaniel.”

Kolakoski’s advice for students and staff is to smile and make each day enjoyable.

“Keep having fun,” Kolakoski said. “If you can’t have fun coming to school, then it just takes the meaning out of it.”



Criminal justice teacher Ronald Keaton has worked for the county for over 43 years. Before he pursued a career in teaching, he worked in the police department.

“I started with the county in 1974 with the police department,” Keaton said. “I did 20 [years] with the police department and then left for another police agency as a civilian. Then [I] came [to Chantilly] in 2001.”

Fortunately for Keaton and the students he has worked with over the years, many of the skills needed to be a good police officer transfer over to being a good teacher.

“I liked [being a police officer] as much as I like this job. I enjoyed being an officer and I was ready to leave,” Keaton said. “People skills are all the same, [no matter what job you are in] and teaching what I teach, Criminal Justice, the real world experience and stories [about being a cop] are what the kids love.”

After 43 years with the county, Keaton has one final message before he leaves.

“To the teachers: you are probably the most important thing in a lot of your students’ lives and you don’t even realize it,” Keaton said. “To the students: don’t believe everything you hear. If someone tells you a lie enough times, it still doesn’t make it the truth.”



Physical education and leadership teacher Becky Campbell has been at Chantilly since the school completed its renovation and added walls back in 1993. She has been a part of Fairfax County since she was a student in elementary school 54 years ago. After 23 years of teaching at Chantilly, Campbell has seen the school change in various ways.

“When I came in 1993, they were just going through the end of the renovation from no walls to walls,” Campbell said. “Teachers come and teachers go and kids go. That’s one of the reason I like teaching high school; they come in all squirrelly and they all mature.”

After years of teaching full time, Campbell plans to ease into retirement. She is still going to help out around the school and county.

“I am going to give myself a year to transition,” Campbell said. “I am going to substitute in both Fairfax County and Loudoun County.”

Through her many years of teaching, Campbell has developed strong relationships with students and colleagues and has advice for both.

“Think outside of the box, be outside of the box and get to know people. You never know, you could meet your best friend in high school,” Campbell said. “It could be that person that is sitting across the other side of the gym or the other side of the cafeteria. Just get to know as many people as you can.”