9 To Retire from Southfield High School


Rachel Walker

Science teacher Craig Bonnington is in his element when he teaches Physics. His element is gold.

Not only is Southfield High retiring its Blue Jay mascot, but also nine staff members are retiring, as well.
Craig and Pat Bonnington
Craig Bonnington has taught every science class his department offers and has decided to retire after 39 years of teaching.
During his career he taught briefly at Southfield-Lathrup but spent most of his career at Southfield High School, from which he graduated in 1972.
At first Bonnington was working toward entering medical school, however he realized that he loved working with kids.
His teaching style is a blend of lecturing and hands-on experiments.
Senior Raina Davis says, “I’ll miss Mr. Bonnington when I go off to college because he’s so nice.”
“When I first started working at Southfield High, there were more kids and the staff members were much older,” said Bonnington. “When I was a student at Southfield High, we had a graduating class of 900” (compared to this year’s class of 214). In the ‘70s, Bonnington recalls, SHS offered more courses and more sports, but the merge next year with Southfield-Lathrup will bring back more courses and sports, he said.
“My favorite Southfield High memory was meeting my wife, Mrs. (Pat) Bonnington,” at work, said the science teacher.
Pat Bonnington has been working for 41 years as a supportive teacher at Southfield High. She has taught all four grades. “I build relationships with my students and do whatever it takes to help them,” she said.
Pat Bonnington attended Plymouth High School and was encouraged by her mother to become a teacher. “I started volunteering with young girls and majored in education,” she recalled.
When she first started working at Southfield High in the ‘70s, there were no additions to the building. “There wasn’t a C house, D house, or a gym, and we had to go outside to get to O house.”
Craig and Pat Bonnington have two boys, Andrew and Adam. They plan to spend more time with their sons in California and with their newborn grandchild. They say they also plan to visit their house up north in Grayling, Mich., in their retirement.
Gary Teasley
Over the last 34 years, Gary Teasley has taught physical education, health, chemistry, integrated science and biology. Not all of his years have been spent at Southfield High School; he has also taught at Communication and Media Arts school, in Detroit, and Thompson Middle School.
After retiring, Teasley plans to substitute teach. He’s also looking forward to traveling to Florida and Hawaii with his wife. He has been married for 30 years and has two daughters, Eliesha and Angelic, who both are in medical school.
“I was inspired to teach because my Uncle, Ronald Teasley, was a teacher and a coach,” Teasley said. Teasley became the head basketball coach in 1994 at Southfield High; his last season coaching was 2015.
Sophomore Keturah Davis said, “I’m going to miss his lectures and the good advice he gives us that’ll benefit our lives.”
Teasley himself was a student at Mackenzie High School, in Detroit, and attended Southern University.
“I will miss the students and the 34 years of routine of working with young people,” Teasley said.
Tom Peters
Tom Peters taught science at Southfield High School from 2000-2010, and then worked at other schools in the district before returning this year. He has taught physical science, biology, chemistry, integrated science and middle school science.
“I like to perform hands-on labs with my students,” said Peters, who has also taught at Southfield-Lathrup High School, Birney Middle School, and Detroit Redford High.
Peters attended Warren Mott High School before majoring in Biology at The University of Detroit. “I didn’t like the other options in the medical field, so that’s why I became a science teacher,” he said.
Peters said he hopes to make time in his retirement for his two passions: exploring new places and bike riding. He also plans to update his home, he said.
“Mr. Peters is the nicest teacher ever,” said sophomore Danny Colton, who is one of Peters’s Biology students.
Paulette Wright
Ever-smiling Paulette Wright has been working in education for 31 years as a supportive services teacher and administrative assistant. “It’s been a long 31 years,” said Wright.
She started her career at the Board Office as a secretary and eventually moved over to Eisenhower Elementary. She spent 12 years at Southfield-Lathrup, including five years as a supportive services teacher, and finished her career with six years at Southfield High as secretary to former Principal Michael Horn and then to Principal Sonia Jackson. Wright said, “I’ll miss enjoying the kids and the activities between the staff and the students.”
Wright hasn’t always lived in Southfield. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois, where she attended Francis Parker High School. “I was inspired to teach because of the number of educators in my family that talk about education.”
Wright moved to Southfield in 1982 and recalled that Southfield High was so large it had three assistant principals and seven secretaries at the time.
Wright is married to Larry Wright, who has served on the Board of Education for 12 years. They have two children, named Larry and Dawin Wright. Her retirement plans include traveling to Spain.
To keep herself busy, she has decided to write a memoir and study photography. “I can’t wait to spend more time with my grandchildren.”
Beverly Hicks
For 20 years, Beverly Hicks has been teaching Economics and English.
“My least favorite social studies subject was the dreaded class Economics, but this class became my favorite subject to teach,” Hicks said. Hicks hasn’t only taught in the Southfield Public school district, but she has also taught in Detroit Public Schools for four years.
As a child, Hicks always wanted to enter the teaching field. Her main inspirations, she said, were her elementary and middle school teachers.
Teaching for Southfield Public Schools became her interest when her children were attending Southfield High. “I started working in this district to check out the people who would be teaching my children, and boy I was impressed,” Hicks said. “We are a hard-working staff” All seven of her children were Blue Jays.
“I have so many favorite memories at Southfield High! One of them was an unannounced visit from a very kind father who expressed how difficult it was to help his student with a homework assignment. He also indicated that his girlfriend, who was a lawyer, also found the assignment a challenge. With that said, he asked me whether I was once a college professor and that he was told that I was a professor. This is my favorite rumor about myself as a teacher,” Hicks said.
After retiring from Southfield High, Hicks said she plans to spend time with her husband and children. “I have children in Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, and Texas, plus a new grand baby on the way.”
Hicks said the merger of high schools next year was not a reason why she wanted to retire. “I would love to experience the chaos that is about to transform Blue Jay territory.” Hicks said it was just time to move on and start another chapter in her life with her grandchildren, whom she is looking forward to helping and watching grow. “My children would love for me to raise their children, and I am in total agreement.”
Barb Kreitman
Barb Kreitman retired during the first semester of the school year after 29 years in education.
“She is the Mother Theresa of Math,” said fellow math teacher Ronda Cooper. “She can teach anybody math.”
Kreitman taught at both the high school and middle school grades for Southfield Public Schools.
She retired to spend time with her family, which includes four children.
Velencia Arthur-Horatio
Velencia Arthur-Horatio, who has been teaching for 20 years, has spent her career working with special needs students.
Her curriculum incorporates life skills, such as cooking and doing laundry.
Her trademark as a teacher has been to involve her students in special productions. Over the years she has had her students perform plays, create musical productions and give poetry readings for parents and staff.
Arthur-Horatio is bilingual in Spanish and English and plans to travel to Barcelona, Spain, in her retirement. Travel is one of her passions, and she has already visited several other continents.
Vincent Bean
Vincent Bean was a student at Southfield High School and graduated with the Class of 1980.
“When I first came to Southfield High, there was only 10 percent African American students and no black staff,” Bean said. Now the school has a 99 percent African American enrollment and more than half of the staff is black, Bean said.
During his 30 years in education, which started in 1986, Bean has taught physical education, World History, American History, Civics, Economics, Psychology, Sociology and Health. “My teaching style is to develop a personal relationship with the students,” he said.
Not only did he have the joy of teaching at the school he once attended, but he also had the joy of having his son Brandon Bean graduate from Southfield High in 2012 while Bean was on staff.
In high school both the father and the son ran track and played football. Both also played college football.
Bean and his wife, Tracey Bean, have three children: son Brandon, daughter Brandice Bean, and stepson, Philip Bruce.
The retiree said, “I’m looking forward to lots of fishing at Lake Erie and St. Claire with my step dad and my college roommates.”