Two Retiring Teachers of Neuqua Valley You Should Know


Patricia Andreas (left) and Leonard Penkala (right), two retiring teachers of Neuqua Valley after the 2022-23 school year.

Leah Dennison, Staff Writer

As the end of the 2022-23 school year rolls around, so do the retirement teachers who have devoted a huge amount of time to Neuqua Valley. Here are two retiring teachers you should know.


Leonard Penkala is the sophomore swim teacher who is retiring this year. Having worked at Neuqua Valley since the school’s opening date back in 1997, Penkala’s impact on students and their ability to swim does not go unnoticed.

Penkala has helped a large number of students gain comfortability and confidence in the water, even saying that one of his favorite parts of teaching is “seeing the looks on their faces when they make it across the big pool. They probably thought that they would never be able to do that in their entire lives.” To Penkala, “the satisfaction of seeing people improve is the greatest memory.”

No day of teaching is ever the same for Penkala. Having to constantly look out for students’ safety, there’s no doubt that he takes on a risky job. According to Penkala, he must accommodate and make daily changes in order to benefit the safety and well-being of students in the water. “We’re extremely careful here. I’m always in a position where I can see the entire pool, and the other people in here (the pool deck) with me are positioned based on where I am so that we have good eyes on everyone.” 

Penkala’s take on swimming is well thought out in order to keep everyone safe. “Learning is number two, and safety is number one.”

When asked about what he wants people to remember about him, he said “I want them to understand their own fitness, so when they leave here they can take care of their fitness.” Sophomore swim has had a huge impact on students, and according to Penkala, “I’ve had a number of students come back to me and say, ‘I’m doing triathlons because of what I’ve learned in sophomore swim.’” Being able to know about their health and bodies and how to maintain fitness is a huge takeaway  Penkala hopes his students get from him.

Penkala is going to miss seeing the growth from students who once had self-doubt, and the success that comes from students in sophomore swim. After his retirement, Penkala plans to keep busy with his church, and is excited to further increase his involvement and devote more time to it. 


Another teacher retiring this year is Patricia Andreas, a teacher in the English department. She’s spent a lot of time at this school, at one point even helping out with the Neuqua Theatre Department. Andreas said that her favorite memory of her career at Neuqua has been “the years where I was able to direct productions in the theatre department. I had to step away for family reasons, but I loved working on music and mainstage productions. I loved working with the students outside of class.”

Through the years, there’s no doubt Andreas has been devoted to Neuqua while also balancing a home life. At one point, Andreas was balancing being a drama director, teaching television production and English, all while having a four year old at home. 

Andreas has definitely made her mark at Neuqua, and hopes that students remember “that I cared about students and their success, their wellbeing, and that they all have the potential to do great things.”

One thing Andreas noted that she’d miss the most is the students, stating that she’s loved to see people learn and grow, as “everything is a clear canvas that they can paint their future. It gives me a lot of optimism”

But Andreas isn’t leaving the teaching world for good, stating that there’s a possibility that she might substitute every so often. Along with that, her post-retirement plans include spending time with her granddaughter, golfing, traveling, and is even considering taking another shot at acting.


Penkala and Andreas are two dedicated teachers. Although they are leaving the building, their legacies will live on within the halls of Neuqua Valley. Congratulations to Penkala and Andreas on their retirement.