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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

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NHS Lab Technician McDevitt to Retire After 28 Years

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Dylan Duda ’24
NHS’ longtime science lab technician, Jean McDevitt, shows examples of combustible chemicals in one of Nonnewaug’s four science storage areas. McDevitt will retire at the end of the school year.

WOODBURY — The Nonnewaug science department is losing a valued, longtime employee when Jean McDevitt retires from her position as Nonnewaug’s lab technician. McDevitt, a Woodbury resident, plans to spend her retirement with her grandkids and enjoying her many hobbies.

How many years have you been working at Nonnewaug High School?  

I have been working here for 28 years.

Why are you retiring this year? 

Twenty-eight years has been a long time. I’m 68 years old and I have a whole bunch of grandkids that I want to stay home with as well as babysit. I do my own gardening, refurbish furniture, and enjoy hiking. I would like to put some time back into that.

Have you found the job of lab technician stressful? 

It can be very stressful because I am here to help each science teacher with about six of their classes. So far we have done 813 regular labs, which are aside from paper labs. Usually we will end up doing around 1,200 labs, which can make it very stressful. To limit stress, you have to keep the work organized, and once you are organized, you’re fine. 

What precautions do you take when handling dangerous chemicals? 

Let’s just say I’m going to take out a flammable [chemical]: The first thing that I’m going to do is consider the chemical’s strength. I have special equipment, including an apron, goggles and green chemical-resistant gloves which I wear to protect myself. When dealing with dangerous chemicals, I make sure it goes in the lab safety compartment. I also move my body and arms at a specific distance so I can keep myself safe, making sure no fumes come back up at me. I do these processes over and over again safely and efficiently setting up for the next lab.

What challenges does your work as Nonnewaug’s lab tech present?

I do everything from integrated science to AP Biology, so there’s a lot of different materials and different setups I have to work with. The challenges for different labs here range from ninth grade to 12th, requiring me to have knowledge in almost every science class offered. Every class I set up for, I have to think about the level of intricacy the class is trying to achieve.

How do you manage preparing labs for the many students at Nonnewaug High School? 

The teachers give me a calendar full of red circles representing labs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So all of that is doubled, and when they give me their calendar, I take it and make a run sheet of this week. That keeps me organized, and then I have to pull out all those labs. My last lab will be June 5, and at the end of that week, we do dissection.  

Q: How has your job evolved over time? 

A: When I first started here, we only had five science teachers, so my work has really doubled in that there’s an increase in materials. You just kind of just go and grow with that flow.

What did you do for a job before you came to work for region 14?

I was a hairdresser for 20 years, and then I also was a realtor. Then I moved up here and I sold my house in Ridgefield. I moved up here, and I … took a year off from work. Then I said, you know what, I’m going to go back and work where my kids are, where I can stay with my kids and be close with them. So that’s when I became a science tech. 

What are your plans for your future? 

My plan is to try to spend time with my grandkids. I go pick [my grandson] up on Mondays and Thursdays. Then I have triplets, and they are Wednesdays and Fridays. So I kind of think my summer is going to be taken over with babysitting. I have a lot of hobbies and my husband owns a racecar, so we go to racetracks over the weekends and race.  

About the Contributor
Dylan Duda ’24
Dylan Duda ’24, Reporter
Dylan Duda is a senior at Nonnewaug and a first-year journalist for the Chief Advocate. He is part of the Harbor Program and does all sorts of sports, including track and cross country, a team of which he's captain this year. Dylan likes to go four-wheeling and likes to go on trips.
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