After 22 years at McNicholas High School, Religion teacher Donna Bambach has chosen to retire from her position as a teacher and chair of the Religion Department. Bambach has been a prominent figure at McNicholas since she began teaching during the 1991-1992 school year, having introduced the Kairos retreat and served on the Campus Ministry Team.
“Mrs. Bambach has brought so much laughter and so much joy to the Religion Department,” Religion teacher Mrs. Paula Yerke said. “Her openness to change, especially through the institution of the Kairos retreat, has been an absolute gift.”
Bambach, who grew up in the Western Hills community of Cincinnati, attended Mother of Mercy High School and went on to study at Edgecliff College, where she majored in biology. After years of working in biological research, she made the decision to quit her job in the science industry so she could stay home with her five children.
“My children are such an important part of my life,” Bambach said. “At the time I felt like I wasn’t able to spend enough time with them, so I decided to work from home as a seamstress.”
As her children grew older, Bambach wanted to begin yet another career; this time as an educator. She attended classes at the Athenaeum of Ohio, and obtained a Master of Arts degree in theology before arriving at McNicholas High School in 1991. Bambach said that she was particularly drawn to the school’s co-ed curriculum.
“Before I found McNick, I had interviewed at Elder High School on the west side of the city, where I live.” she said. “I admit, it would have been a much shorter drive to work, but I couldn’t get past the fact that I wouldn’t have the chance to teach girls. When I found McNick, I knew it was where I wanted to spend my teaching career.”
Three years into her time at McNicholas, Bambach brought forth what has become a staple of the school’s religious experience: the Kairos retreat. Many aspects of this deeply spiritual and student-led retreat remain a mystery to underclassmen, who according to Bambach, have to experience it for themselves.
“Kairos has definitely become one of the most distinguishing aspects of the McNick experience,” Bambach said. “The fact that it’s a student-led retreat is really something special, and I’ve always been completely taken aback by how much they learn about themselves and their classmates while they’re away. We’ve been absolutely blessed to have so many great students and faculty members who are willing to help make the week of Kairos what it is.”
Though she is choosing to say goodbye to her teaching career, Bambach said that she is not ready to retire completely.
“I want another career. I’ve got three under my belt already, so why not try something new?” Bambach said. “I still don’t quite know what my new job’s going to be, but I trust that God’s going to guide me in the right direction, just like He guided me to McNick 22 years ago.”
Looking back on two decades at McNicholas, Bambach smiles as she talks about her teaching philosophy.
“I always strive to teach the kids the way I would want my own children to be taught,” she said. “If I’ve learned one thing from 22 years of teaching, it’s love. I’ve learned how to give love unconditionally, and it’s a beautiful thing to know that the same love has been shown to me in return.”