Beloved Bloomfield HS teacher to retire after 27 years

Photo by Daniel Jackovino
Bloomfield High School teacher Lenore Imhof, who started the mock trial and swim teams, is retiring after 27 years.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Someday, former Bloomfield High School students will recall teacher and coach Lenore Imhof, saying that they were taught by her or perhaps competed on her mock trial or swim team. Recollections will be said for other educators in the district, of course, but today, March 31, 2022, is the day that Imhof retires after 27 years in Bloomfield education. 

A member of the BHS Class of 1984, to this day she says she thanks God that coach Mike Carter’s mother, Pat Carter, an administrative assistant in the guidance office, mailed her application to Georgetown University, where she was taught by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and from where she graduated in 1988. 

“I was a government major and Russian language minor,” Imhof said during a March 24 interview with The Independent Press at the high school. “I wanted to be in international diplomacy. It was the height of the Cold War, but by the ’90s, the Cold War was over.”

Imhof attended Columbia University’s School of International Affairs and, from 1989 to 1995, taught at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School in New York City. She holds a master’s degree in teaching from Montclair State University and another master’s in educational administration from Caldwell College. In 1995, she was accepted to Seton Hall Law School. Then destiny dealt a new hand.

“I came in for a visit to BHS and met a former teacher, Eugenia Pfeiffer, and told her I had gained admission to law school,” Imhof said. “She encouraged me to apply for a position at the school in the English and social studies department.”

Imhof did and was hired. She began her BHS career while attending law school at night.

“I come from an amazing family,” she said. “My parents are very hardworking, kindhearted people. They did so much for the community. They taught me, ‘Whatever knowledge you have, you have a responsibility to impart it to others.’”

Her father, she said, developed Parkinson’s disease when he was 49.

“We have no understanding of what a sick person is experiencing,” she said, “and realizing that makes you a better teacher. But so much depends on luck. You’re lucky if you have your health.”

Imhof started the BHS boys and girls swim team and the school’s mock trial team. She said many BHS graduates became attorneys; some had joined her mock trial team never thinking they would even go to college, much less become attorneys. Always the competitor, Imhof even signed a professional bicycle-racing contract in 2000 and raced until six years ago, when injuries caught up with her.

“People don’t comprehend how amazing this school is and what the people here do,” she said. “We have an amazing, amazing school. We need continuity and to embrace just how amazing this community is. The parents work hard so that their children have the opportunity to go to school here. I’m still writing recommendations for students who graduated years ago.

“There’s negatives to everything,” she continued, “but as an educator, you have to see the potential of every young person that walks into your classroom. I’ve invested 34 years in education, and I’m proud of that. But now it’s time for Miss Imhof to graduate from high school and decide what she wants to do.”

Imhof will be living in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in a house she has owned since 2003. One day in Boothbay in August 2010, she took Jake, a golden retriever she was then fostering, out for a walk. A man visiting neighbors came out of their house to pet Jake. His name was Kirk and he was visiting from Minnesota. For seven years, they were pen pals. They were married five summers ago by Shamshadeen Mayers, a former member of an Imhof mock trial team. Imhof said that, after moving to Maine full-time, she would like to practice law there.

“I’m well known in Boothbay,” she said. “I’ve been coming here since 1971. And there are a lot of volunteer opportunities here.”

But Imhof said she is not about to disappear from the Bloomfield scene.

“My family is here, my mother is here, I’m not going away,” she said, “I’m just retiring. There’s so much opportunity, it’s right around the corner. You have to plan ahead, I’d tell my students. You don’t know what life will throw at you. If you have your health, you should be the happiest person in the world. It’s not easy being in education. It’s emotional and exhausting. We have to fill so many roles for the student.”

And if anyone asked her if they should become a teacher, Imhof would tell them teaching is the greatest profession.

“You cannot put into words the rewards you get for teaching,” she said.