"I've been in school my whole life."
Following her own education, kindergarten teacher Susan Kibbey went on to spend 40 years educating the generations to come. Now she's preparing for a long summer break when her last school bell rings on June 8 and she steps out the doors at Youngsville Elementary Middle School and into retirement.
Kibbey has transitioned from mimeograph through hardcopy type to computers in her time. She has undergone 55 final evaluations. She also pointed out she has worked for 14 administrators in her time, including Eric Mineweaser, the current principal at Youngsville Elementary, who was a former student.
Photo by Jacob Perryman
On June 8, kindergarten teacher Susan Kibbey will wrap up 40 years of elementary education in Youngsville and face the new challenges of retirement.
"It is kind of amusing, after 40 years doing this, seeing where the students are now," Kibbey said. 'It doesn't seem like 40 years. It just seems like yesterday I started. It's never been a job. I've always just gone to school."
After starting with the Warren County School District in the early 1970s, Kibbey said she spent three years teaching second graders before dedicating the rest of her career to kindergarten. The opportunity arose once to teach the eighth grade, but Kibbey said she and the administration decided against it, as she was the only kindergarten teacher available in Youngsville at the time.
"Everyone can learn, that's my philosophy," Kibbey said. "Socially, emotionally, educationally; everyone is different. It all depends on where you are and what is given to you. These are things that affect your whole life. This is when you build your work ethics and the important skills. Education is important whether you're five or 20 or even facing retirement."
She summed up the lessons she tries to impart saying, "I like myself, I like this place called school and I like to learn. I always tell them I'm the facilitator of learning. I provide the activities that they gain knowledge from and I like them to become thinkers."
She reflected on some of the changes the last 40 years have brought in education.
"The biggest change, really, is standards," Kibbey said. "I really like core standards. Developmentally, no one is a solid 5 or 6, maturity builds through what you gather from your peers. I try to teach at the higher level. Everyone can achieve it at some level."
She said seeing all-day kindergarten come into the district was one of the highlights of her career.
"One of the greatest achievements of the district, administrators and teachers, was all-day kindergarten," Kibbey said. "I taught the pilot program in the 2001 or 2002 school year and it's wonderful to see it come to fruition over the last few years. I hope they continue to support it."
Kibbey is looking toward retirement with mixed emotions.
"It's going to be weird," Kibbey said. "Every year, I usually end up in June with PASSA, then it's into reunions and summer, then about July you start thinking this year, 'What's going to be different? What's changed?' and this year there's not going to be any of that. I still talk in kindergarten terms and I'll have to outgrow that.
"I think on the first day of school I may sleep in."