It’s the relationships that have made teaching a truly treasured field to be in for retiring Nevada fifth grade teacher Kathy McCaulley.
“Working through the ups and downs together, whether with students, parents, teachers or administrators formed lasting bonds that I will treasure forever,” she said. “I consider my school friends some of my closest. I will miss the people the most.”
McCaulley has taught fifth grade her entire time at Nevada, which has been 17 years. Math has been the constant subject for her. “I have alternated between language arts and science as my second area (of teaching), depending on enrollment and need.”
McCaulley is a 33-year teaching veteran, who started her career as a substitute teacher in the Fort Dodge Community Schools for a couple years after graduating from Iowa State University. Her first permanent teaching position was at Britt Elementary (West Hancock), where she taught fourth grade for 16 years. “I have wonderful memories of the students, parents, teachers and administrators I worked with there,” she said.
When her husband, Dave, accepted a position as Nevada’s high school activities director and assistant principal, the pair moved to Nevada and she said she felt very fortunate to get a fifth grade position that opened up about two weeks before school started.
When she thinks about the changes in education during her 33-year career, McCaulley said technology and professional development have been a little overwhelming for her. “I have really enjoyed some changes, especially the self-paced math, but you just know when things have changed too much for you. I worry about the stress level of my friends who continue to teach. They are such amazing people, and they always do what is best for kids. (But), the sleepless nights worrying about your students, the paperwork and a myriad of other things can really wear on you.”
That said, McCaulley has great respect for the “awesome” younger and newer teachers in the Nevada district. “They bring energy and innovative ideas. No matter how things change, kids still need boundaries and guidance from the adults in their lives.” Her advice to those newer to the teaching profession, “Be friendly, but be an adult. As a kid, I didn’t necessarily like being disciplined, but in retrospect, I respect and love the adults who set parameters for my own good.”
Second, she encouraged, “Please speak up for what you think is right. Your opinions matter, and you deserve to be heard. You are the ones in the trenches, ‘walking the walk.’ Lastly, work hard, be kind and stay humble.”
McCaulley said she hopes to do some substitute teaching after her retirement, and/or work with kids in some capacity on a part-time basis. “If something else presents itself, I may take a different path,” she said.
She and her husband, who is planning to continue as the middle school principal for one more year in Estherville’s Lincoln Central school, plan to stay in Nevada as their home. “We are looking forward to being retired together in the near future.” McCaulley said she also has a sister living in New York and a brother living in Fort Dodge, along with several nieces and nephews, who will be part of her future activities.
She looks forward to retirement. “I am looking forward to having more time to exercise, do yard work and see more of family and friends. I am lucky to live in a great neighborhood with wonderful people. I also enjoy hanging out with my husband and friends on the golf course. I am not a golfer, but have enjoyed the camaraderie and atmosphere for about 30 years.”