Thursday, March 21, 2013

Special Guest Post - A Teacher reflects upon 28 years in education

It is my absolute honor to have one of my former teachers, Susan McIntyre, submit a special guest post on this blog.  As of this coming May, she will have completed 28 years in the teaching profession and will be retiring.  I can honestly say that Mrs. McIntyre is one of my teachers who influenced me to be a teacher.  Here is her reflection upon her days as a teacher as she approaches retirement: 

Susan McIntyre - A reflection of 28 years in the teaching profession

Thousands of students, 28 years in the profession, 25 years as a group sponsor/coach, 15 different classrooms, 11 different courses, 3 different schools, 2 school districts, and one outstanding career. How does a teacher look back over the years and evaluate his or her success?

As I approach the end of this school year and the beginning of my retirement, I find myself trying to answer this question. I think about that first year in the classroom. The students I had. The teachers I worked with. I had a two-year-old child and a four-month-old child. My husband had the job of taking the kids to daycare on his way to work. As I think back now, I wonder how either of us ever made it. I know it was only by the grace of God.

I learned that God had a sense of humor in 1985. I had been praying for a teaching job for over a year when He answered that prayer. I forgot to ask to have my teaching position in Amarillo, so I spent my first five years as a teacher commuting from Amarillo to Hereford. I enjoyed my years at Hereford. Both my students and my co-workers left me with many good memories of those early years.

Unexpectedly, in 1990, I heard about an opening at Palo Duro High School. For the next 23 years, I spent many hours working with great students and teachers. I taught 16 years in the math department at Palo Duro, followed by seven years teaching Health. I sponsored the Class of 1997 and had a group of students who worked hard to achieve their goals every year. I then took on co-coaching cheerleaders to go along with co-coaching Academic Decathlon.

I had three special years with the cheerleaders and 14 years with the Academic Decathlon program. I expended many hours on the road in buses and 15-passenger vans with both of these groups. I have many special memories about both organizations. While working with the cheerleaders, I had the privilege of visiting a hospital in Lubbock after a cheerleader fell from an extended lift and received a concussion. I also attended the girls state basketball tournament when the Lady Dons earned the opportunity to play for a state championship. While working with Academic Decathlon, I visited several schools as we competed from one year to the next. I even mastered the skill of making cotton candy as we worked to raise money for the team. I also had the privilege of cooking for the Academic Decathlon students that went to Santa Fe on a study tour. So many memories shared with students I loved as if they were my own kids.

With the ending of the Academic Decathlon era at Palo Duro, I took on my next coaching challenge, the UIL Math team. Although I spent a few years frustrated because the UIL process was so different from the Academic Decathlon process, I enjoyed the students in UIL just as much as the students I had worked with in all my other coaching endeavors. For a few years my Academic Decathlon kids would become my UIL kids after the AD contest. To this day, I still enjoy working with the UIL Math team.

Memories continue to fill my mind as I write this article. They are the memories of a 6 and a half foot, 450 pound young man hugging me while he stands in line waiting to graduate, tears rolling down his cheeks; of a young man coming up to me at the prom and telling me thank you for holding him accountable; and of a young lady, whose mother quit her job to attend school with her daughter to keep the girl from skipping class, hugging me after her graduation while her mother stands there with tears of joy flowing. A memory of running down the hallway after one student decides to shoot another student with others being injured as well. No one said all memories would be happy ones.

So to go back to the initial question, how does a teacher look back over the years and evaluate his or her success? Well, I believe that my success is scattered across this country and even into a few other countries. My success stories, as a teacher, are the lives of those students who sat in a classroom, in a bus, in a van, and even in a plane with me. I have previous students who are serving in the military and previous students who are serving as parents. I have previous students scattered in various fields of work and in various fields of study as they are completing their college years. As a retiring teacher, I am excited about my future as I leave my profession in the hands of some of my success stories.

Written with love and gratitude for my God, my family, as well as, all students, colleagues, and administrators who have touched my life, thank you!

Susan McIntyre