Barbara Gensler is taking her final bows as the Shorewood High School theater legend on Tuesday requested and received approval from the School Board for her retirement at the end of the school year.
Gensler, who has spent 45 years putting Shorewood on the map by building a world-renowned drama department, wrote in a letter to the board that her request comes with a "sad heart."
"I truly loved my work in all areas and I admit that I learned as much as our students and we all stretched together," she wrote.
Gensler, who has been with the district for 47 years, indicated in her letter that a "physical problem" did not allow her continue in her current capacity. However, she did offer to be a volunteer director next year for a studio theater play, saying, "that will not put any demands on the technical director or costumer. It would help make this retirement less abrupt."
Gensler said she believes that the theater must be offered in the lower grades for a new teacher to be able to continue on building on her success.
"I also hope that speech will maintain its requirement for graduation — in this economic enviroment, speaking well offers our students the oral confidence that they need to continue to succeed," Gensler wrote.
According to Superintendent Blane McCann, the theater at the high school will be known as the Barb Gensler Theater for The Dramatic Arts. A celebration to unveil the plaque will be held July 14 during the school's annual alumni weekend.
"She has inspired countless students throughout her tenure," McCann said. "We thank Barb for her hard work, her dedication to our students and her committment to the arts. (She) has been an inspiration to all of us."
Gensler's last show was the of AIDA.
"One of the messages to students is the greatest gift that they can give Barbara Gensler is to continue on that excellence in her absence," School Board member Michael Mishlove said.