There will be 239 years of EDSS teaching experience leaving the building Friday, as nine staff members wrap up their careers and head into retirement.
Retirees include Janice Harper, Marjorie Paleshi, Anne Kendall, Fred Meissner, Melanie Stronach, Mike Forler, Judy Saville, Ingrid Baumann and Ken Reid.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” said Reid, who has taught a variety of courses, including civics and careers, geography, history and English, in his 28-year teaching career. “My last class… I was very much aware of the fact that I was teaching the last class. It’s a performance, right? You perform so many shows in a career. It’s been about 15,000 times I’ve got up in front of a class to do my shows. Then I realized I’m really going to miss that. That’s going to be difficult not to see these young people, and have these interactions back and forth with them. It’s a wonderful career. An honorable career. For me, 28 years of teaching means roughly 4,000 students. That’s a lot of lives to have an impact on.”
Despite finding the career very rewarding, there are aspects of the job that he could do without.
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“At the same time, I’ve done my last batch of marking exams, I’ve done my last report cards, and I’m not going to miss that,” he added with a laugh.
When questioned about retirement plans, most were focused on what they weren’t going to be doing, rather than what they will be doing.
“Everyone who I’ve heard discussing retirement has said that it will fill up,” said Reid. “So I’m not going to worry too much about that for the time being. A year from now if I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs, then I’ll start worrying.”
“We’ll all be opening up a new chapter of our lives,” added Harper, who has also taught a variety of courses included interior design, marketing, and physical education.
A lengthy career should not end without a celebration. There was a drop-in retirement party last week aimed at celebrating with Harper and Reid, who taught the Elmira Life and Work program at the school. The program is a co-op education program that is run out of but separate from the EDSS high school curriculum.
All past and present ELAWS students and parents were invited. Part-time ELAWS teacher of eight years Sandra Jardim organized the event.
“It’s kind of like a mini-reunion also for the past students or parents or coop employers who just want to come in, eat some cake, drink some coffee or tea and just wish them well,” said Jardim. “I’m hoping to have ten tables representing the ten years they’ve been there with pictures or Power Point presentations just remembering what happened in those school years.”
“On behalf of all the teaching staff, our feelings towards this can be summarized with a Winnie the Pooh quote,” said Bauman. “We are so lucky to have had something that makes saying goodbye so difficult.”