The past 35 years have seen many changes in schools.
When the 2008-2009 school year came to a close, some teachers and administrators who had maintained a steady presence in the schools of Warren County through many of those years have moved on to retirement.
Although they taught many subjects in many different buildings, their experiences were largely the same.
They witnessed changes in society and in families.
They experienced a technology boom with the growth of computers and the Internet.
They have worked through - sometimes with, sometimes against - the growing presence of standardized testing.
In their retirements, many expect to continue some kind of role in the school district.
The retirees who agreed to share their thoughts are: Diane Barney, Suzette Berdine, Judy Confer, Jane Dunshie, Carla Melkonian, Mary Passinger, Margo Rounds, Judith Scalise, Carol Torrance, Gloria Werner, Jack Werner, Kay Widdowson and Debra Young.
Together, they represent about 380 years of teaching in Warren County.
Each respondent was asked to give a brief biographical background along with short answers to three other questions.
The questions, including the biographical information were:
2. What will you look back at with pride or satisfaction?
3. What were the most significant changes you saw from when you started teaching to when you retired?
4. What are your retirement plans?
1. I taught for 32 years; 21 years have been spent in the WCSD. I have taught all levels of Spanish and French. I have been an advisor for Spanish and French clubs for 21 years. I have taught Spanish and French for 11 years.
2. A few students have decided to pursue a career in foreign languages.
3. There is a heavy emphasis on standardized testing rather than allowing teachers more freedom.
4. I would like to spend more time with my two grandchildren and also travel abroad.
1. I have taught in Warren County for a little more than 28 years. In that time, I worked for both the district and Intermediate Unit 5 as a learning support teacher or in regular elementary. I started out in 1969 teaching at Warren State Hospital (WSH) adolescent unit, five years. I also taught one year at Allegheny Valley in a Life Skills class, then took time off to raise my family. I returned to teaching in 1988 part-time at WSH, then 11 years at WAHS, five years at North Warren Elementary, and finally, at WAEC for the past four years as a third grade teacher.
2. It always pleases me to see former students in the community as productive adults. Many have spoken to me and introduced me to their children and/or spouse. Knowing that I may have had a part in their development is very satisfying.
3. Teachers today have more paperwork, reports, and laws to abide by. Their work is much more stressful than when I first started teaching. Children are more "savvy" and knowledgeable about life in general due, I think, to the media and Internet use. Learning expectations on children are so much more rigorous.
4. To enjoy some free reading, work in my yard and garden, catch up on some unfinished projects and just enjoy each day as it comes.
1. I have taught in the WCSD all of my 35 years. I was an elementary classroom teacher for the 15 years. I taught kindergarten, third and fourth grades at Tidioute, Pittsfield, Irvinedale, Allegheny Valley and Lacy elementaries. The last 20 years I have been an itinerant Title I teacher. I taught an early intervention reading program for first graders called Reading Recovery for nine years and the rest of the time I taught Title I math. I have taught Title I at Pittsfield, Sugar Grove, Tidioute, Jefferson, and YEMS.
2. I have been able to see many of those students who were at risk in reading become proficient readers and sometimes honor students. One of them was most recently featured as a student of the week in the WTO and stated that reading was his favorite subject.
3. I have seen many changes over 35 years, but most significant, probably, is the advent of technology. When I first started teaching there were no copy machines, just mimeograph machines that were limited. Computers were unheard of then. I have taught in small neighborhood schools with only one of each grade to the larger schools we have now with four or more of each grade. I have seen the closing of the small neighborhood schools and the consolidation into the larger schools we have now.
4. In retirement my husband and I plan to travel. I also plan to pursue hobbies of reading, exercising, sewing and needlework, and work as a volunteer at WGH and/or the Cancer Center.
1. The first year I taught high school English, Social Studies, Health and Physical Education and was the girls' basketball coach. I spent 9 years as a special education teacher, three years as a combination special education supervisor and building administrator, and 25 years as a special education administrator. I worked in West Virginia for 15 years and in Warren County for 23 years.
2. The wonderful teachers, aides and support staff we've hired who walk into school each day and work with other people's children as though they were their own. Beginning with Dr. Sechriest, Mr. Brown and Dr. Bauer I've had terrific administrative colleagues, teachers, aides and others to work with.
3. I began my special education teaching in small centers for students with mental retardation. Now students such as the ones I taught are in our public school buildings where they belong, and move into special schools only when absolutely necessary.
4. Sleep, read, travel Mongolia is a dream destination - enjoy more time with my mom Connie, volunteer, and along with my husband Dale follow the thoroughbred horses his cousin is raising especially the one named G. I. Jane. Maybe some day our annual Derby party will celebrate a Potter County winner!
1. I have taught in the district for 35 years. I'm an art teacher, who through the years has taught in all grades and at some point in every school in the district.
2. I look back over the years with pride and satisfaction on just being a part of the many moments of student discovery and the art shows and displays of their special accomplishments. Also the wonderful and dedicated teachers I've had the honor to work with and share with all along the way.
3. The most significant changes I've seen through the years has to be in the tremendous technological advances we've made that has added a vastness of tools to tap into. We need to constantly reevaluate needs because students and circumstances are constantly changing.
4. All throughout my career I've given private art lessons to students and adults because I truly enjoy it, so I plan to continue to do so. For just as many years I've also been involved in the martial arts, which I also love and I will continue teaching Tai Chi Chuan.
1. I graduated from Eisenhower High School and attended Shippensburg and Edinboro Universities. I have been teaching for 31 years; prior to that I subbed for several years for the Warren Co. School District. In addition to teaching English, 9, 10, and 11 grades; journalism, and drama, I have been the advisor for the Eisenhower Squire (the school newspaper) for approximately 20 years, advisor for the theatre arts- Knight-time Players for 21 years, and also advisor for the year book for approximately 10 years. I have taken groups of students in my theatre arts program to Los Angeles for a week-long media workshop, to London, England, Toronto, Ontario, and New York City for touring and shows. My theatre group sells hot baked potatoes at the Warren County Fair to help raise the money for the trips.
2. I have a great deal of pride in what I have accomplished at EMHS. There was no journalism program when I started. The newspaper was basically a mimeographed front and back of a single sheet of paper and consisted mostly of happy ads. Although the program is suffering now because of the budget crunch and no time in the curriculum, we have won awards at St. Bonaventure's, Scholastic Press Association, and Edinboro University. We have come a long way from when I started. The same is true of the Theatre Arts program. There hadn't been a play of any kind for several years when I first became the advisor. We did one play that year. We gradually added plays, and now we do three plays a year, fall, mid-winter and spring. In addition, my students have had opportunities to see and experience a lot of theatre.
3. As far as changes go, the most significant, as far as I am concerned is the testing. It takes up so much class time, that it is very frustrating. While I want my students to do well on the tests, I don't want to 'teach to the test'. I think they lose out on too much if all that is taught is what is on the test, but it is difficult to fit in everything in the curriculum and still cover material for the testing. Another change, and not for the good, is the lack of electives. They have been dwindling more and more; mostly because of lack of room in the schedule for teachers to teach them. We keep losing teacher time and of course the first thing to go is the electives. I think this is very sad. I used to have drama classes every year, but there hasn't been one for the last couple of years, and this year there was no journalism class. Part of the reason is because students go part time more now, and there are fewer students to fill the electives, but part of it is also teacher time. I don't know what the answer is, but I know that I think it is sad to see how few electives we have.
4. I don't really consider it retirement, because I am planning on subbing and/or tutoring as much as possible. I would like to keep involved in the school; I just can't handle the paperwork anymore! Trying to grade all the writing, with seven classes is very cumbersome. I would also like to travel. I love New York City, and hope to be able to visit there a couple of times a year. It will be weird not worrying about a dozen students when I'm catching the subway, but I think I can manage.
1. I'm Margo Rounds and I've been teaching Computer Classes at Beaty-Warren Middle School for 14 of the past 16 years. I also taught7th Grade Math for two years. Prior to that I taught various grade levels (K-6) in many schools throughout the WCSD. During several of the years at BWMS, I was the "Torch" yearbook advisor.
2. I am proud of what I was able to provide my students. I know these skills have and/or will help them in their future endeavors. It is nice to read about former student's accomplishments and know I might have been part of something that helped them.
3. During my 30+ years in the WCSD I've witnessed a growth of technology. From the first TRS-80 computers with cassette tape drives, to Apple Computers on a cart - shared from room to room, to Macintosh computer Labs in Schools, replaced by PC computer Labs, to multiple computer Labs within the building. Just like the computer industry itself, the WCSD technology offerings for students have grown and expanded.
4. I don't have any definite plans after retirement, but am considering substitute teaching so I may still be around the academic setting and the students even after I retire.
1. I have been employed for 33 years with the Warren County School District, concluding with teaching third grade at Sheffield Elementary School. I have taught all grade levels at the elementary level within the district with the last 20 years teaching my favorite, third grade.
2. I will look back with pride and satisfaction at the positive difference I have made in the lives of my students. It is so nice to see former students as adults and have them tell me that they enjoyed being in my class. Since this is my last class, I am hopeful that these students will feel the same way.
3. The greatest difference that I have seen in education since I started was the growth of technology and that is an awesome opportunity for today's students!
4. My plans for retirement are to enjoy my family, my garden, volunteer, join a few clubs, and have lunch with all my retired friends.
1. I spent 25 years, of the nearly 34 years that I taught, at Jefferson Elementary. My last four years have been at S.S.E.L.C. I am proud to say that time was also spent at Irvinedale, Lander and Pleasant. I have taught first, second and third grade and also spent 15 years as a Reading Specialist.
2. I was able to help struggling readers become successful and confident.
3. Unfortunately, I have watched the concept of a stable, structured family crumble.
4. I plan to travel, seeing America first, and then, hopefully, abroad. Gardening and sewing are also passions of mine.
1. I taught Family and Consumer Science, 4 years at Youngsville High School, 6 years at Sheffield Area Middle Senior High School, 10 years as a substitute
2. I hope my students learned something they will use in their future.
3. Technology has changed so many of the things I teach.
4. Enjoy time with our moms, kids and granddaughter and my husband, of course.
1. 36 years. Math 32 years. Coached football, wrestling and track. Athletic Coordinator Sheffield High School 13 years. Supervisor of Athletics and Activities 4 years.
2. I hope I treated students, parents, colleagues and my supervisors with dignity and respect. As a former principal used to remind us, I tried to give a day's work for a day's pay.
3. Technology I remember when I had the first calculator in our school.
4. Spending time with our new granddaughter, our children and our moms and a trip along the New England coast.
1. I reside in North Warren with my husband, Chris, and our son, Colby. I have been a teacher with the Warren County School District my entire teaching career. Most of my thirty-six years as a teacher were spent at North Warren Elementary School. I taught first, third, and fourth grades at North Warren and have been teaching fourth grade at Warren Area Elementary Center since it opened four years ago. Each level of teaching had many advantages, from taking a 6 year old nonreader and teaching them to read, to Science discussions with my 10 year old fourth graders. My favorite grade and subject to teach however, has been fourth grade Science and Health.
2. It has always been a joy to meet many of my former students and talk with them and see what productive young people and adults they have become. Most I don't recognize as they look quite different than they did at six, but names will bring back many memories. It is a privilege to know that in some small way I had a part in molding them into the person they are today.
3. When I first started teaching we were lucky to have one computer in each classroom mainly for the kids to reinforce Math or Reading skills through the use of games. Today our school is equipped with three computer labs and each classroom has three or four computers for student work. The students don't just use the computers for games they now have learned to use them as a source of knowledge, a tool to complete work, and a source of technology with boundless capabilities.
4. My plans for retirement are to keep teaching. I would like to work as a substitute teacher or as a tutor. I also plan to get many unfinished chores and projects done around the house and to play more golf.
1. I have been with the WCSD for 35 consecutive years. I have served the district as an elementary teacher for 3 years, a special education teacher and teacher of the gifted (before there was an LEC) for 10 years, a Middle Level counselor at Beaty-WMS for 17 years, and most recently, as an administrator for the past 5 years. I have enjoyed every role, but I have loved being an administrator more than any of them. It has allowed me to make changes and touch the lives of the largest number of students.
2. I leave with a great satisfaction that I did everything I could to move the Middle Level philosophy forward in this district. Before making any decision as an administrator, I asked myself "Is this what's best for kids?" Going forward with Middle Level is truly what is best for our pre-adolescents. I'm also proud of the impact from the grants that I have written over the years in the district. I was able to bring computers into special education classrooms, training for Inclusion and co-teaching to several buildings, and infra-red sound systems that augment the teacher's voice into many regular education classrooms. Perhaps the most satisfying memory is knowing that the student who sat in the corner in my classroom in 1974 went on to become a teacher. There is no better compliment on earth.
3. There are 2 significant changes in education over the past years that I think are notable. The amount of research and data that we have at our fingertips today to help us to shift and change our instruction to meet the needs of our students today is incredible. The technology we had in 1974 consisted of old TRS-80 computers with black screens and green letters on them, and they were not found in many classrooms. Today, teachers are writing grants for smartboards, computers, projectors, and beyond. The use of this technology is engaging students of the 21st Century.
4. As an active member of the Allegheny Outdoor Club, my immediate plans are to hike, bike, kayak, and repeat. I may even accompany my husband when he writes his next book about hiking beyond the borders of PA. I have also served as a consultant and presenter for other school districts on the subjects of Inclusion, Learning Strategies, and Middle School. I hope to continue with that, as well.