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A Point of View: Goodbye to another school year

SPRINGVILLE — Another school year is now over. I never fail to become nostalgic, at this time of the year, even though I retired from teaching, several years ago.

It has been a great journey. I stepped into my first classroom, as a teacher, 62 years ago, in September 1951. I thoroughly enjoyed my work as an educator. Through the years, those I have met, along the way, have become a memorable part of that journey. I will never forget my students.

During my years of teaching, I would often gaze at my students’ desks, at the end of the day, and think about what these young people would grow up to be. I could not predict their futures, but I was able to keep in touch with several of them.

My first two years of teaching were spent in a fifth grade classroom. Priscilla was the very first student to enter my classroom, on Sept. 5, 1951.

I remember conscientious, dedicated Martha; energetic and thoughtful Ryan; creative and bubbly Phyllis; hard-working, dependable Ken; considerate Melinda; athletic and tenderhearted Rachel; studious, good-natured Ricky and everyone’s friend, Laurie.

I also remember thoughtful Dylan, fun-loving Darlene, helpful Dave, Larry and helpful Mark.

Most of these students were 10 and 11 years old. What a marvelous group they made! Each was so special, in his or her own way. They were creative, thoughtful, energetic, bursting with enthusiasm and mischievous, at times.

Several were in need of extra encouragement and support. Each one was a treasure of virtue and vitality for me, for 6 hours per day, 180 days of that year.

It is often difficult for a teacher to follow his or her students, after they leave the classroom, at the end of the year. New students and other activities have a way of demanding one’s attention.

I mentioned several of my first students. Where are they now, 62 years later?

Priscilla is now retired, after spending many years as a teacher. Martha has been in retail management, for many years. Ryan is a retired diesel mechanic and Phyllis is a hospital dietician.

Ken is now a retired master electrician and Melinda has retired from nursing. Rachel retired from the business and banking consultant business. Rick has had his own construction business for many years.

Laurie is a retired postal worker and Dylan was in law enforcement. Darlene has her own home-centered business.

Dave has been a vegetable farmer, since his high school days, and Larry has retired from state highway construction.

Mark has retired from teaching and is continuing his work as a coach. Each of these former students has his or her own family. Sadly, several of them have passed away.

More than 60 years have passed, since I had the pleasure of working with my first two fifth grade classes. Hundreds of talented and creative students followed, thereafter.

I treasure those years and the parents and colleagues I have met along the way.

Most of all, I treasure the memory of my students. It was a marvelous journey.

Dr. Robert Heichberger is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia and is a distinguished professor at Capella University in Minneapolis.
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