Decades of Dedication

While current U.S. data report a median  employee tenure of just 4.1 consecutive  years with any one employer, Sara Feider, John Doherty and Elizabeth Klijnsmit are defying the odds. Each of these dedicated part-time employees has been with the Shorewood Recreation Department for more than 30 years.
What accounts for their longtime loyalty?
Feider, a longtime middle-school teacher, says it’s all about the people  with whom she gets to work.

“I have always enjoyed working with kids and making connections with them and their families,” she says. “All of the classes that I have taught or assisted with have been fun and very different from (the teaching I do) during the school year.” 

Feider started working for the Rec as a teen volunteer with the Sports Club — now known as Kids Club  — when she was just 14. Over the years, she has also been a morning day care caregiver and a teacher/coach for Tiny Tykes summer preschool, various sports programs, art and sewing classes, and the Ski and Snowboard Club.

Feider credits her job with the Rec’s Summer Sports for Youth program as the reason she pursued teaching as a career. “It helped me realize that I really enjoyed working with middle school-aged students,” she says.

Doherty’s dedication to the Rec is connected to his own  experiences growing up in Shorewood. Like Feider, he is a career teacher, in his 44th year of teaching physical education. 

“I grew up playing in the Shorewood Rec Department  programs, and my childhood and professional life were definitely shaped by those wonderful experiences,” he says.

Doherty began working for the Rec in 1974, assisting with the summer baseball program now known as Minors and Majors. He has also worked with the summer basketball program and Sports Club, was a lifeguard, operated the SHS bowling alley, worked at the Atwater ice rink and helped with the adult softball leagues. In 1984, he became the director of Minors and Majors, a wildly popular Shorewood institution that sees young participants convening at the Lake Bluff diamond early each summer morning to play hours of baseball.
“My philosophy has always centered around allowing children to be children,”  he says, noting that this is reflected in Minors and Majors, where Doherty guides young players to make decisions for their teams, learn self-discipline and have fun along the way. In his 40th summer as director, Doherty says the greatest reward of the job is “seeing the joy on a child's face when they are  successful at something.”

Klijnsmit began working for the Rec as a dance aerobics instructor in 1984 and has since taught Step Aerobics, Muscle Fitness, Pilates and Senior Strength. She says that during her 26 years as a teacher at Atwater, exercising helped her keep up with her students and that by teaching it, she could be held more accountable. 

“Personally, exercise helped me survive,” she says. “Shorewood is a great place to teach, and the Rec Department participants are interested, active, capable, patient and very kind. I’ve had  fun exercising with them.”

The Rec “would not be as successful and highly regarded  without the commitment and longevity of these part-time staff members,” says Rec Supervisor Justin Calvert. “They have built such meaningful relationships and created such a strong community atmosphere through their programs that kids and adults return year after year.”
[Pictured: Longtime Rec Department instructors Elizabeth Klijnsmit, John Doherty and Sara Feider, who have a combined 119 years of service to the Shorewood Recreation Department; photo credit - Patrick Manning]