Diane Woodworth of Sunset Hill School has relished helping children realize their potential.
The 29 years that fourth-grade teacher Diane Woodworth has spent in the classroom is a drop in the bucket.
She's been teaching all of her life.
``I remember, growing up, I tried to teach my sister, and then I taught religion classes at church,'' said Woodworth, who teaches at Sunset Hill School.
When she graduated from Kansas University, she was as confident in the grade level she wanted to teach as her chosen profession.
``My favorite teacher was a fourth-grade teacher,'' she said. ``It's an age where they're old enough to do things for themselves but young enough to listen.''
Woodworth is also a good listener to her young students and lets them make new discoveries on their own. During a recent mathematical exercise Woodworth stood still while students measured her from head to toe.
``I love working with the students,'' she said. ``I like helping them realize their potential. When they're excited about learning it's fun.''
It's not unusual for students to include Woodworth on their invitation list for graduations from high school and college.
``It means a lot to me when students go on to junior high and high school, then come up to me later and talk to me,'' Woodworth said.
One former student who talks to Woodworth on a daily basis is Suzanne Hawley. Hawley was a student teacher in Woodworth's class in 1977. The two now teach in adjoining classrooms.
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``We have such a great time,'' Hawley said. ``I still learn things from her everyday. She's the most dedicated person I've ever seen.''
Hawley, who admittedly gets teary-eyed when talk of Woodworth's retirement pops up, said the building won't be the same next year.
``I am really going to miss her,'' she said. ``She's easy to work with and all the kids dearly love her and respect her.''
Woodworth plans to spend time with her husband, Marlin, and her son, Kent, who is married and has three children.
``I'd also like to do some traveling, to Alaska and Hawaii,'' she said.
Volunteer work is also on the agenda, and some of it is likely to be in a school library, church or hospital, Woodworth said.
She won't miss taking extra work home on the weekends and almost every night. What she will miss is the camaraderie of the students and the class meetings she has instituted as a way for everyone to be heard.
``I like to use positive reinforcement and that's what the meetings are about,'' she said. ``We work out problems and compliment each other. It's developed self-discipline and gives everyone a chance to talk about what's on their mind.''
When Woodworth's students go to the next grade level she wants them to take along a good self image and a readiness to learn.
Perhaps that's why, hanging near the classroom door, is a sign that reads:
``No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.''
--JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.