The school year is winding down as it does every June at this time, but this year is significant for many teachers and staff who won’t be returning again in September.
At Linwood Public School, that list includes Debbie Deckert, secretary at Linwood PS, is retiring after 44 years of working in the building. Alongside her is 34-year kindergarten teacher and Winterbourne resident Jean Healey-Martin, and Michelle Speck, who has taught Grade 1 at the school for 32 years.
Deckert noted the dynamic atmosphere that has made her career exciting; no two days are quite the same.
“Everybody says ‘dear god, don’t you get bored?’ Well no,” said Deckert. “We’ve gone through four renovations of the office area, … the staff changes all the time. We’ve had this is our seventh principal; we’ve had ten vice-principals. And of course, the kids change. Everything changes around you, so it doesn’t get boring; it just doesn’t.”
“I’ve loved my time at Linwood, so that’s why I’ve ended up staying here,” said Healey-Martin. “It’s an interesting school because of the combination of children. We have our English-speaking children, and we have our Old-Order Mennonite children.”
Both Deckert and Healey-Martin noted some significant changes over the decades they have worked at the school, crediting the most significant change to technological advancement.
Teachers once used to hand write report cards on triplicate, and once used Gestetner machines (first patented in 1879) to make copies.
“Technology is a big change,” said Healey-Martin. “Down at the senior end, the Grade 7s and 8s, some of them have cell phones now. It is very different. We’ve gone from having a computer lab, to no labs – now it’s just (Google) Chromebooks.”
“We got our first computer that looked like an upright toaster in 1991,” added Deckert.
Other changes include the structure of the kindergarten classroom: the program transitioned from a half-time program into full-time.
There are many aspects of their jobs they will miss, in particular the children, the Linwood PS productions, and the field trips, such as a fire safety day at the Linwood fire station.
So what will they do with all that newfound time?
“Everybody asks that,” said Deckert, referring to her retirement plans. “First of all, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Because I am not a morning person, so I’m looking forward to sleeping in. Besides that, to travel. I’ve always been a big theatre person. I want to join the choir and the historical society.”
“I’m happy. I’m looking forward to more flexibility. I don’t do a lot of sleeping in, but I will have a little more freedom and choice in what I’m doing,” said Healey-Martin. “Like more time gardening, a little bit of travelling.”