Number of years you’ve been teaching: 36½ years
Number of years you’ve been teaching for Colo-Nesco: 35 years
What positions have you held at C-N and what is your current job that you will retire from?
I have been a teacher associate, fourth-grade teacher, sixth-grade teacher, PK-12 lead literacy coach, and PK-6 instructional coach. I am currently the teacher leadership coordinator and PK-12 instructional coach.
What other school districts did you teach in previous to CN?
I began my career as a substitute teacher in Nevada and Ames.
Where were you raised and what did you love about your upbringing and schools you attended?
I was raised in the small town of Groton, N.Y., which is located in the central part of the state. We lived on a small acreage, where I spent a lot of time outside in the woods and fields that surrounded us. I loved to build forts with my brother, ride my bike and spend time helping my grandma pick the wild berries that grew in the fields. My grandma was an outstanding cook, and she was always making pie and jam with whatever I would bring home to her. Both my elementary and junior/high schools were very new. Our public schools were well funded, and we were always provided with many different learning opportunities. My favorite class in elementary was science, because we had very good teachers who believed in hands-on learning. We rarely read from a text book, and I can remember making lots of different things, which taught me a lot more about science than reading from a science book and answering questions. I think that is probably why I tried to do a lot of hands-on learning with my fourth-graders in science.
Why did you go into teaching/education? Did someone influence you?
I think I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. When I was in first grade, I used to help my teacher with other students who needed help learning to read. It was not uncommon for class sizes to be larger than 30, and we had 33 students in our class. When I was in seventh grade, I was having a little trouble in math. I was very fortunate to have an excellent math teacher that year. She was patient and had high expectations. It was because of her that I was able to become better and more confident in math. As a fourth-grade teacher, I often modeled my teaching of math after what I learned from her.
If you had chosen another career, what might that have been?
Another career I considered for a very short time was nursing, but then I wasn’t sure if I could handle all that comes with the job. I think teaching was probably the career that I thought about the most as a child.
What have you loved most about your time at C-N Schools?
It takes a whole village to raise a child, and I believe that small-town school atmosphere is what I love the most. At Colo-Nesco, we have a very dedicated group of teachers and staff who work hard every day to create a learning environment to help all of our students learn. We also have a supportive group of parents who are always willing to lend a hand. In a small school, it is easy to get to know all of the students, and even after students move on to another grade, you still have opportunities to work with them as they continue their education.
What was the biggest challenge you faced over the years?
The biggest challenge that I faced was becoming a national board-certified teacher. This was a goal that I had and really worked hard to achieve. The work and hours that I put into this was tremendous. However, it was the best professional development I ever experienced, and it really helped me to become more intentional and reflective in my practice. The hardest part of the whole process was waiting seven months once the work was done to find out if I had earned the certification. Only 40 percent of teachers who go through this process become certified the first time and not wanting to do any parts over, I spent many hours studying for the test and working on my teaching portfolio so I would get it the first time. The most rewarding part was learning that all my hard work paid off, and I became national board-certified teacher as a middle childhood generalist.
Do you have any advice for those thinking about this profession or just starting out in the profession?
My advice to those who are thinking about becoming a teacher is to make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. Many people think that teaching is an easy profession because you have your summers “off.” This is not really true. Most teachers spend hours of their summer in classes improving their practice and working on their plans for the coming year. It is not uncommon to see a teacher working in their classroom during the summer. Our children are our future. Teaching is very hard work. Each child that walks into your classroom has their own learning style and their own background. As a teacher, it is up to you to figure out how every child in your classroom learns best and how to best meet their individual needs. As a fourth- and sixth-grade teacher, I often thought that all of my students only had one chance at being a fourth- or sixth-grader, and it was my responsibility to make it the best experience possible for each and every student. All students can learn!
Who are the family members you will now enjoy spending more time with?
I am a very family-oriented person and am looking forward to spending more time with all of my family in Iowa, Wisconsin, New York, Virginia and North Carolina. I love to go bike riding on rail trails and hope to spend more time doing that with my daughter in Wisconsin. However, one of the things that I am especially looking forward to is spending more time with Jack, my new grandson. Jack is six months old and is already growing up way too quickly.
What activities do you hope to pursue in retirement?
I have a lot of interests, so filling the time should not be a problem. The problem will be figuring out what to do first and having enough time to do it all.