From West to the South

Mandel leaves because of a family opportunity



Mary has a big personality and a lot of love for her students and swimmers.

Lanora Sprague, Reporter

Yee-Haw! Mary Mandel’s moving to Texas. Mandel is a self contained special education teacher and head girls swim coach here at West High School and she’s been teaching for seven  years. She has made a big impact on West and developed bonds with her students and swimmers, who are all going to miss her and her humor. Mandel has been teaching special education at West for a while now, meaning everyone is really going to feel her absence. 

“I teach self contained Special Ed … This is my seventh year,” Mary Mandel said. 

Mandel has been teaching for quite some time, so why leave now? Ultimately the opportunity outweighed the cost. 

“My family is moving out of state and just kind of an opportunity we couldn’t pass up, something new,” Mandel said. 

Mandel doesn’t plan to go straight back to teaching. Instead she hopes to spend more time with her son and learn the area. 

“I’m gonna stay home for a year with my family, my son, while we get settled in our new area,” Mandel said. 

Mandel is broadly loved as a teacher and a swim coach. For her students it’s especially hard to say goodbye, they’ve spent most of their high school career with her. 

“[I feel] sad, I don’t want her leaving,” Mandel’s student, junior Katrina Kuhrt said. 

Many are upset to see her leave but reminisce on all that she’s done for them. 

“I feel very sad and disappointed, Mary was a very special person in my high school years. She was very encouraging. She made me feel like I could do stuff that I didn’t think I could ever do,” junior Kaylin Ruckoldt said.

As head coach of the girls swim team it’s difficult to think of a season without her.

“She was one of the first teachers I connected with and she believed in me and convinced me to join swim which was life changing,” sophomore Courtney Walker said.

Mandel is known for pulling pranks and having a great sense of humor. Whether it’s scaring swimmers during Saturday practice or teachers during the school day, you never knew what to expect. 

“She pulled pranks on Schutte and Swords,” Kuhrt said.

“That’s probably my favorite classroom memory, when we hid in the cupboards and told people to go get stuff for us and jumped out at them,” Mandel said. 

Mandel is moving to Texas, a big jump. Her life has revolved around the Quad Cities and West for so long it’s going to be a difficult adjustment. 

“I’m from the Quad Cities and so is my husband so first I mean, [I’ll miss] our whole family. That’s gonna be really hard. But I love West High School. I love working here. I like the people I work with. I like my job. I like being a coach. Overall, just missing West High School, it’s going to be hard to be away from it,” Mandel said. 

Mandel has been teaching special education and coaching swimming at West for a long time. It’s difficult for her students and swimmers to see her leave but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for her either. It’s a big adjustment for everyone but she’s left everyone with great stories and memories.