Retirement Blog 2022 – 2023 School Year

A story for every student contact day during my last year and a weekly musical interlude!

I am retiring at the end of the 2022-2023 year. This blog will be a retrospective and a celebration of the things I have been a part of for the last 30 years. This is in no way intended to be melancholy or a journal of grievances. It is a celebration of the joy a teacher sees, hears, and feels over the time of a career. I will try not to preach and hope to encourage teachers and students to enjoy the time they have together. I can speak from experience that they are memories that will last a lifetime. These are my recollections and come from my perspective and I do not imply the thoughts or deeds of anyone else. As with any retrospective, I might have things a little off but I hope to offend no one or group as I undertake this adventure.

Teaching is a calling that demands a great deal from those that undertake the role of a teacher. The important thing to remember is that it is critical to look around and take all of it in as you pass through the lives of thousands of students. If someone takes on that role with anything less than the belief that it is a crusade, they do a disservice to their students and themselves. If I give the impression that this is a sacred path to walk, I will have been successful. I said in an interview in 1994 that “I go home every night exhausted but I can’t wait to get up and get to school the next day.” I have the same philosophy and beliefs today. I regularly tell students that I don’t need an alarm clock because I wake up before it goes off so that I can get to work.

I plan on having a great deal of fun with this and I encourage you to come back often and follow the escapades that I have been a party to for 30 years. I hope it will bring you laughs, tears, and joy. I want to share with everyone the value of this profession. I hear complaints and frustration with the world outside of education and I understand and sometimes have the same feelings. If I focused on these feelings I would not have enjoyed the 30-year ride. Life may not be fair but I do believe it is balanced. Your outlook is determined by the side of the ledger you choose to focus on. I choose to focus on the great, the laughter, and even the sadness that comes with working with students.

The last 30 years have been my crusade and the only fear I have is that I will not be able to continue the crusade after retiring. The time has come to move into a different phase of my crusade and let those behind me pick up the mantle and go forward. Just to be clear, over the 177 class days that I will post, I will name names and places! I will not embarrass anyone but I think t is important to the story that people know how important they have been to me. There are a few people that are worth mentioning specifically because they have had a huge impact as mentors and students. I will not list everyone because of space but I do want to mention a few people that have been inspirations above and beyond. I was recently asked in an in-service about what inspires me and without hesitation, I said that it was my students. In about year 3 of teaching, I discovered that if I was attentive that I could learn as much from students as they learned from me.

A short list of students and teachers that have inspired my journey. Please remember that this is not comprehensive and if I put the full list, it would be thousands of people long. Teachers and Educators in no particular order: Barb Smith, Cheryl Lico, Katherine Kelley, Debbie Backus, Debbie Gerkin, Susan DeCamp, Cathy Stanforth, Mrs. Truman, Mary Lou Midcap, Dorothy Carter, Marc Stine, Tammy Strouse, Sandy Scott, Ingrid Franklin, Rob Shurich, Mike Hamilton, Phil Underland, Jim Gochenour, James Laguana, Gwynn Moore, and Lisa Grosz. Students in no particular order: Lucas N, Leann W, Andres Q, Cassie M, Nabil D, Katie L, Adobe A, Sam N, Michelle H, Nathan B, Zach S,  Selena G, Chris K, and thousands more.  The most important inspiration as a teacher is my wife Dawn and as a student my daughter Kaila. Dawn has been teaching longer than I have and I can only hope to have half the compassion and love for students that she does. Kaila moved out of our house to go to the University of Wyoming and never came back. After graduation, she found a home at UW and has been an advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and has become a forceful educator in her own right.

You may be looking askance at the graphic accompanying this post. Believe me that by time that I am finished you will understand why it is so important for me to tell this story. When I started teaching in the early 90s, it was still Read more
Working on 9/11 in a school was a difficult undertaking. All of the obvious questions swirled in our heads. Do we tell the children? Do you interrupt teaching to view it? Not every classroom had a projector or TV so do we show them anything? Read more
This is a message I wish I could get across to all students. It does speak about teachers and school at the beginning but the full message is in the chorus. Read more
Teaching has given me opportunities that others might not have. One of my favorite was serving as an exhibit interpreter for the Imperial Tombs of China at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in the mid 1990s. It seized on my desire to learn Read more
Recently I did a post about the cafeteria manager who got teddy bears for students. I want to now tell the story of the "Book Lady" that kids loved. Mrs. Truman lived down the block from Montview and had lived there for many years. She Read more
Facing blatant racism was a new experience. I had witnessed racism daily as a kid but I never expected to see it when I was teaching. I now know that I had a very naive outlook. I believed people had enough class to keep some Read more
I have had good luck with serendipity during my career. The first example was how I started working in Aurora. I had an interview with Montview and with Rock Ridge in Castle Rock. Rock Ridge was the school where I student taught. A sixth grade Read more
This is a perfect description of the turnover that happens in school administration I have been through five superintendents and seven principals. The lines around 7:45 of the song are particularly poignant. Read more
I have had the opportunity to work with some people that worked tirelessly for students. I was always impressed with those that could find a unique way but touched every student's heart. Montview had a couple of folks that changed lives for a tough demographic.  Read more
Teaching during the start of this current information and internet age was a blessing and a curse. We often had the freedom do what we wanted to do because nobody was sure of what it was we were doing. Networking equipment was one of the Read more
If you read the lyrics closely, it does express life and profession well. Read more
It has been a long tradition that teachers will often get a second job to make ends meet. I was no different. What can be helpful is to find a position that assists your teaching. When I was getting started as a teacher, Barnes & Read more