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Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

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Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

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Math teacher Mrs. Sweeney retires after years of impacting colleagues’, students’ lives

From student to math teacher, Mrs. Lisa Sweeney has seen Strath Haven evolve over the course of 40 years.
Matteo Ventresca
Math teacher Mrs. Lisa Sweeney teaches trigonometry to her third block class on Thursday, June 6.

For 37 years, Mrs. Lisa Sweeney showed up to Strath Haven at 6:15 AM, ready to help students enjoy math. This past school year was her last year teaching.

Sweeney was a student at Strath Haven in 1984, a member of the new high’s school’s very first senior class when Nether Providence High School and Swarthmore High School united.

According to Sweeney, she’s taught a multitude of math classes over the years except geometry, with a particular love for precalculus. 

“[Strath Haven] was a really great place to grow up,” Sweeney said. “So I just think that overall dynamic, just that feeling of community and everybody’s supporting each other…the teachers I had were great. I knew they cared about me, I knew they were invested, and that’s just something I wanted to come back and be a part of, and pass on to the next generation.”

Sweeney went into college expecting to be a mechanical engineer and later pivoted to marketing. After a year in sales, she realized that her calling was to be a teacher—so she returned to her alma mater.

“My father was very good about giving me advice, but letting me make my own decisions,” Sweeney said. “And after I decided to do that, because I always thought you should be a teacher. I’m like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me that?’ And he’s like, ‘Because you needed to find your way.’ And he was right…getting to coach and teach has really been exactly what I think I was meant to do.” 

Mr. Jason Torregrossa, who has taught at the school for 28 years and was initially hired for Sweeney’s role while she was on maternity leave, sees her as a mentor and a friend. 

“My fondest memories have been watching Mrs. Sweeney school students on the basketball court at the Chris King game over the years,” Torregrossa said. “I also love the fact that she gives a candy bar to students on their birthday and half-birthday. When she finally found out the date of my birthday several years ago, she always had a gift on my chair when I arrived in the morning.”

Torregrossa admires Sweeney’s professionalism, and aspires to incorporate her timeliness and amiable manner in his own teaching.

“Mrs. Sweeney has always encouraged all of her colleagues to spend time getting to know each other, care for and respect each other, and look out for each other. She has truly lived by this every single day she has walked into the building,” Torregrossa said. 

Sweeney also helped students, like senior Alex Piech, get through rough patches and readjust to school. 

“She was a great teacher,” Piech said. “I’m not a math person myself, but it was definitely one of the better math classes I’ve been in. I had some personal stuff come up around February, and she was very understanding with that. So, that meant a lot to me.” 

They struggled with returning to school and overworking themselves, but Sweeney was there to support them. 

“She was very understanding and said, like, ‘Hey, I understand you’re trying to get back into things…Take a break, take care of yourself first, we’ll talk about it,’” Piech said. “And that meant a lot to me, because I kind of was trying to throw myself back into work just so I didn’t have to think about things…And then when I did come back into it, she helped me catch up to where everyone else was.” 

Senior Ryan Henry also admires the way Sweeney is able to connect with a wide range of students. 

“I think that she really excelled at controlling kids’ behavior and helping them, especially with the math, since some kids definitely struggle with just some math concepts,” Henry said. “She did a good job of controlling everyone’s frustration while being an efficient teacher as well.” 

Sweeney has also learned from her students over the years, using that to improve her form of teaching and make math class a more enjoyable experience.

“I think sometimes we carry a burden, as teachers, knowing the influence we can have and the impact we can have,” Sweeney said. “But I think it’s important to stop and just enjoy the interaction that you can have with your class and laugh at things that you all can share together.”

Sweeney plans to read as much as possible and travel with her family after retiring. However, she will make new memories of teaching at Strath Haven until the very end of her tenure.

“We had the day of celebration [June 4, field day], and even though it was short, like just being outside and seeing all of you guys doing your things and laughing with your friends, and then a bunch of faculty went to the Phillies game [that] night, it was just a full day of feeling like, ‘That’s my life. This is what I do, I get up, I come to Strath Haven,’” she said. 

Sweeney will look back at her time at Strath Haven fondly.

“It’s been a perfect career for me,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and I know that it will continue. It makes me happy to know that there’ll be new teachers coming in and doing the same thing for the next generation.”

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About the Contributors
Kaitlyn Ho '26
Kaitlyn Ho '26, Managing Editor of Web
Kaitlyn Ho is the current managing editor of web and the health and sciences editor of The Panther Press. Her first article was on the German Exchange Students. There was no turning back after that. She loves to learn about communicating complex science in simple ways, reading, dancing, artificial intelligence, and playing (badly) the piano and cello. Her future self can confirm that she will laugh at and enjoy every single thing her past self wrote.
Evelynn Lin '25
Evelynn Lin '25, Editor-in-Chief
Evelynn is a junior at Strath Haven High School, and this is her second year writing for the publication. When she is not busy on the ground taking pictures of fun events or grinding away at articles, she can be found listening to music, taking long walks, studying for school, dancing, making bubble tea, and hanging out with friends.
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