Graduating staff share before taking on next chapter


Navigator Staff

In some ways a high school is primed for goodbyes, the revolving door cycling out graduating seniors heading out for college and careers and welcoming in ninth graders anxious to start their journey. Southwest sees its share of staff flowing in and out with the students each season—though some seasons may be more tumultuous than others—there will always be retirements, life events, opportunities, or budget cuts that change the make-up of the adults that share these halls. 

The high school staff listed below add Southwest to their lists of alma maters and share about their time as a Laker with The Navigator. If you are also leaving Southwest this year, please reach out to The Navigator at [email protected] for your message to the community to be included.   


Name: Emily Ebner

Department(s): English

Years @ SW: 9

What is a memory or positive experience you will take with you from your time as a Laker?

There are so many memories of Southwest that will forever live with me that it is hard to choose one. Overall, I have loved seeing the skills and talents of students through the arts programs and varying clubs. The amount of creativity and drive that SW students continue to show amazes me each and every year.

Do you have a favorite lesson that you taught or a lesson you learned at Southwest?

My favorite lesson is not a lesson, but an assessment. I love the Macbeth project and am so sad that I don’t get to assign it anymore! Every year, I am astounded by the creativity behind the project I see. I have seen soundtracks, piano and viola scores, stuffed animals, art, novellas, dining menus, adaptations, and so much more. I never know what to expect, but it has almost always been greatness.

Any final messages for the SW community?I have loved being a part of this community even when things have been challenging. The students and staff here are resilient and strong even when it may not feel that way, and each year, you all have had to bounce back from something unexpected. I know that you will be able to do it again. Thank you for the positive student relationships. Thank you for the friendships and connections. And finally, thank you for 9 years of memories and experiences that have made me the teacher I am today. I will miss you.


Name: Leif Kurth

Department(s): Counseling

Years @ SW: 4

What is a memory or positive experience you will take with you from your time as a Laker?

Helping students. I can think of no better calling than to provide support & educational opportunities to those who will be running the world, in the near future.

Do you have a favorite lesson that you taught or a lesson you learned at Southwest?

Doing the right thing is not always popular—and often not the easiest path; but if you know what you’re doing is what’s best for all involved, stick with it.

Any final messages for the SW community?

Sometimes boats need rocking & at other times they need to be capsized.

You define success based on what matters to you.

Ask questions.

We are all perfectly imperfect—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Be you, the authentic unique you. Others may object to the real you but that’s their problem, not yours.

Give grace—to yourself, to others.

And last, remember that you’re part of something bigger. We all rely on one another. The bootstraps of lore are the supports we count on to get through each day. Friends, family, pets, teachers, nature, whoever/whatever provides you the strength to carry on & helps you learn & live, these are your bootstraps. And you are a part of others’ bootstraps.

Much love to the entire community!

Cover Picture created by Ben Chylinski ’23

Departing Staff Spring '22

If you are leaving SW, consider taking a minute to leave a note about a memory from your time as a Laker.

Within SW, what department (or departments) did you work with?
How long did you work at SW?
Free form field: leave it blank; shout-out any folks that are holding the torch you've passed on; you can include a scavenger hunt, riddle, or a cryptic message--really endless opportunities.