Beginning his first teaching job at Mercy in 1970, he thought he would only stay for one or two years. Forty-one years and 82 theater productions later, Mercy has held a special place for him in the drama department directing shows, working behind the scenes and embodying that Mercy spirit we all know and love. Come next fall, though, this loved member of the Mercy community will not be returning, although his legacy will not fade. After 41 years of dedication to Mercy, Mr. Ron Sill is retiring.
“It was just time,” he explained. “I’ve met some phenomenal people over the years, people I’ve admired and enjoyed watching them grow, but it was just time.”
Beginning his first and last teaching job at Mercy, Mr. Sill has devoted his entire career to Mercy’s theater department, working as the set director and stage crew for all Mercy fall plays and spring musicals, supervising the auditorium, and teaching alongside his wife, Mrs. Kathy Sill. Most students know Mr. Sill in some way, and his departure does not come without sadness or disappointment. Kaitlynn Wargo, a senior who has worked closely with him on stage crew for several years, equates Mr. Sill to the grandpa of Mercy High School.
“Mr. Sill is one of the people I think of when I hear Mercy,” she said. “He has taught me so much, from how to use a screw driver to believing in myself as a leader. When I heard he was retiring, I teared up a little.” Sophomore Courtney Richards, who is one of Mr. Sill’s advisees and has also grown close to him through stage crew, reflected on how Mr. Sill has impacted her life.
“I have enjoyed every minute that I have spent with Mr. Sill,” she said. I knew that even at the end of a bad day, I could come in to sign out and he would have a big smile on his face and everything felt better for that little moment. He is a great, compassionate, and hard working man . . . [and] I am happy for him in his retirement, in the sense that it is a new beginning of part of his life.”
Mr. Sill admits he is puzzled by his widespread popularity in the school.
“I don’t know what I’ve done,” he said. “I don’t understand it. It bothers me when someone says ‘you can’t leave’ or is crying in the hallway because they found out I wasn’t coming back.”
When asked about the secret to his success as a teacher, he explained, “I’ve always tried to do the best that I can do and treat everyone the way that I would like to be treated. For some reason, it’s worked!”
Mrs. Sill, who met Mr. Sill teaching alongside him in the drama department, shared her thoughts on her husband’s retirement.
“I have loved the opportunity to work side by side with my husband for the past 26 years,” she said. “Though I am saddened that we will not be sharing the daily life at Mercy, I am thrilled for him as he has earned this next stage in his life.”
Since 1970, Mr. Sill has witnessed four decades of changes. He has observed the adaptation of Mercy’s current modular schedule, the establishment of the advisor program, and the introduction of Mercy’s signature tablet computers. A constant for him, though, is the students, who he says have hardly changed in four decades. He admits that he doesn’t really know what to do with himself after first retiring.
“From what I can remember, I’ve always been working,” he said. “It’s definitely a change.”
In addition to working at Mercy teaching classes such as Speech, Broadcasting, Acting, Theater Production and Forensics, he was also heavily involved in Mercy’s plays and musicals, frequently working on Saturdays in addition to his normal work week. He also taught Driver’s Education at Mercy for 26 years, worked summers with Mercy’s maintenance crew cleaning classrooms, and also volunteered as a firefighter in Farmington Hills. After four decades of constant hard work, Mr. Sill said, “It’s going to be difficult not having a job.”
Mr. Sill looks forward to spending time with his grandchildren and relaxing, and admits that he’ll miss the students the most during his retirement.
“It seemed like it would be so easy, but it’s not,” he said. It is also difficult for students such as Wargo, who said, “Mercy is going to be such a different school without him.”
A glimpse of his hard work can be found in the Drama hall, where there is a long wooden frame that displays the cast photos of all the Mercy Fall Plays since the 90s.
“Years ago, I jokingly said that once the frame is filled, I would retire,” he said. “This year, the last picture was put in, and, well, here I am.”