By Jon King /

A longtime Howell educator got a happy surprise last week when she came home from her last day on the job.

Cathy Hengesbaugh retired on Friday from Howell High School after teaching for 20 years. As she returned home, Hengesbaugh found her street lined with family, friends, students and colleagues (past and present) to celebrate the impact she made on the Howell Public School community. Hengesbaugh taught in the Career Technical Education Program, with one program focused on Early Childhood Educators and the other a broader perspective inspiring high school students who want to enter the education profession. Hengesbaugh said she was “totally surprised” at the reception, “I couldn’t believe it when the streets were lined with so many of the people I love - family, friends, students, colleagues! I just smiled and giggled for hours. It was a perfect ending- our own little homecoming parade.”

Howell High School Principal Jason Schrock said Hengesbaugh would be missed “beyond belief” at Howell High School. “She worked tirelessly to ensure a positive, nurturing and engaging classroom experience for countless students over her 21 year career. Cathy’s dedication has created a lifelong legacy for Education Careers in Livingston County.”

That was echoed by Amy Pashak, Assistant 9th Grade Principal who called Hengesbaugh “truly one of a kind, a unicorn in the field of education.” Pashak said Hengesbaugh’s advocacy for Career and Technical Education programs in high schools as well as early childhood education have “extended beyond our school walls and has reached every corner of the state. As she begins her well-deserved retirement, I know she will enjoy spending more time with her family but she will forever hold a special place in our Highlander family.”

As for Hengesbaugh, she said retiring was “very difficult” as it was leaving something she absolutely loved. “Sharing my passion for teaching with others considering that career path has been fulfilling. I am excited for my next journey- spending more time with family and friends, camping, traveling, kayaking and relaxing.”