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Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

-by Maddy M., 8th Grade

I loved when she told us stories.

She told us a particularly outrageous story this past week. Her defining laugh started her sentence. “And I am not even going to tell you how I managed to get an A in that class.” The whole class erupted in laughter at the idea of it. “Oh whatever!” she exclaimed, “I have two days left.”

After her story, I quickly jotted down a few ideas for our coming interview. I went around and asked my peers any questions they had for her. Most of them were along the lines of ‘How much will you miss Mary-Kate?’ etc.

I was getting nervous; the interview was in less than a period. I had nothing written down; what was I going to ask her? Here she was, sitting less than six feet away from me.

“Mrs. Low let me just start by saying I have, like, nothing prepared…sorry.” She gestured to the table in the corner. “Oh that’s ok; we’ll figure out something.” We sat down across the table from each other. I started off easy; I asked her how long she had been teaching. 31 years. Eighteen of those years were spent here at Parker.

“Mrs. Low what was your first teaching job?” She then took her time, reaching back in her memory.

“When I first came out of college I went to work in Virginia, and that year is when they started to integrate schools. Half my students and faculty members were African-American. Of course having just come out of school I had no idea.”

And from then on, it wasn’t awkward. We talked, mostly about her.

M- Why are you leaving?
L- Well my husband had been retired for five years, and he needs me to come home. I have been teaching for 31 years, so I need to take a break. There are also some family issues right now.
M- What will you miss most about Parker?
L- I just love the people, I love teaching kids every day, I love talking to my faculty members. I just love the people. And I am going to miss that.
M- What is your overall best moment here?
L- I have always been happiest in the classroom.
M- How have you seen education change?
L-Technology mostly; in just the past ten years it has changed so much. I remember last year Mrs. Davis and I took a technology course; Mrs. Davis did not want to take it. But I told her to ‘shut up, and hurry up.’ A few times we got lost but it was good. I have also seen society change, the pressure put on students has changed immensely; not for the better though.
M- What compelled you to teach?
L- Through school I always got straight A’s, and when I was in school I always did teacher-like things; helping kids with their homework, etc. It has always come naturally to me.
M- What have you learned over the years?
L- Not to judge kids from the first time you see them. People (kids, teachers) can and do change.

Right about this point Mrs. Lows eyes started to water. She accused me of making her cry, and eventually we laughed. But she was still crying.

M- Are you sad that you are leaving?
L-(Shakily laughs) yes; yes I am.
M- Will you come back?
L- Definitely, at the end of the year.
M- Do you know if you will regret retiring?
L- You know, I really don’t think so. There are a lot of things to do outside of school, and I have been thinking about retiring for about a year.
M- Why aren’t you waiting till the end of the year?
L- Well my husband needs me home, and you are allowed to retire on your birthday. So that’s what I am doing.
M- I heard a rumor that you were going to travel. Where were you planning to go?
L- My husband and I were planning on traveling to every state, and traveling to the most popular spot there.
M- What will you do in your free time?
L- Well, if the warm weather ever comes, I love to garden; I also have a pool and I love to entertain; ask Mr. Musselman about that. Haha! I also have two grand-kids that I am looking forward to spending time with.
M- What has been your funniest moment here at Parker?
L- Every day since I have worked here I have laughed!
M- Have you always taught 8th grade?
L- No for a summer I taught a course in high school, which wasn’t my favorite. I also taught for a little in fifth grade. And a junior college.
M- What was your favorite grade?
L- Oh, definitely 8th grade; you know I love joking around. In 5th grade you are too young to get anything, and in high school everyone thinks they are too cool too laugh, so this is the perfect age for me.
M- How have you changed as a teacher?
L- I have become more patient, and more tolerant. When you are beginning a new teaching job you are so worried about what you will do right or wrong. But I definitely learned how to be more different.
M- Is there anything you regret as a teacher?
L- You know, everything I regret as a teacher is becoming an ancient memory. But in general I regret the fact that years back they changed the curriculum from American history to World History. I miss the connection kids had with American History. World history is very broad.
M- What is your philosophy on teaching?
L- I believe all can and want to learn. Teaching history is a chance to look at the world. Education can be used as tool; it’s a life long journey. It’s something you want to use for the rest of your life.
M- What is a parting message you want to send to Parker?
L- Well to the kids: Learn to work hard, and have fun. To my faculty: Work is important, and have fun!

By the time the interview was done, we had fifteen minutes left in the period. Now the awkward feeling was back. But instead of awkwardly leaving or sitting there, we talked, about life. What my parents did, about her daughters. How the beginning of the year was weird because we didn’t really like each other. It was fun!

I know it was late, but it was great to get one-on-one time with Mrs. Low before she left. Throughout the whole interview she looked me in the eye. We laughed and cried. There was hardly a second one of us wasn’t talking. It was great to get to know her.

Mrs. Low, you have been an amazing teacher. I feel so prepared for high school. Your classes are great, and always really interactive. I know I am going to miss you, and tons of others are going to miss you too. I feel blessed to have you as my teacher.

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