Archive for Friday, May 14, 2010

Seven Pinckney teachers to retire

May 14, 2010


Long-time teachers retiring

Seven long-time teachers at Pinckney are retiring at the end of the school year. The seven have adapted to changes in technology and plan to stay involved with the school after they leave. Enlarge video

People stay at Pinckney School.

That’s why it was a difficult decision for a group of seven Pinckney teachers — with a combined 167 years teaching there — to retire from the Lawrence district when classes are dismissed later this month.

“We have taught together longer than we’ve lived with our parents at home, and we have been through thick and thin,” said Janet Reeder, the Pinckney librarian for 30 years.

The teachers have grown into a close-knit family through years of working with students and colleagues, but also through sharing personal experiences, like the births of one another’s children and the deaths of one another’s parents.

“I’ve spent 33 years here, and I only lived 18 years at home with my parents,” said first-grade teacher Carolyn Evers, who also did her student teaching at Pinckney. “And I’ve never lived in any house 33 years, so this feels like home more than any home really feels.”

It was hard for the group of seven to imagine working without one another at Pinckney, 810 E. Sixth St., nestled in-between the Pinckney and Old West Lawrence neighborhoods.

These seven Pinckney School staff members will all be retiring at the end of this school year. Clockwise from front are Becky Spradlin, Carolyn Evers, Lynn Heffley, Janey Greene, Bitsey Patton, Nancy Gill and Janet Reeder. Across Lawrence more than 40 teachers will retire or leave the district next school year.

These seven Pinckney School staff members will all be retiring at the end of this school year. Clockwise from front are Becky Spradlin, Carolyn Evers, Lynn Heffley, Janey Greene, Bitsey Patton, Nancy Gill and Janet Reeder. Across Lawrence more than 40 teachers will retire or leave the district next school year.

Across Lawrence more than 40 teachers will retire or leave the district for next school year. With the state budget crisis, in recent years the district has offered incentives for some longtime educators to head into retirement.

‘Community school’

For the Pinckney group the decisions came as a chain reaction when first-grade teacher Janey Greene, after 15 years at the school and 21 years in the district, decided she would retire. Greene’s first-grade cohort Evers didn’t want to teach without her.

The same thing happened with fifth-grade teachers Becky Spradlin, who has spent her 35-year teaching career at Pinckney, and Nancy Gill, who’s been there for 20 years.

The group also includes Reeder, kindergarten teacher Lynn Heffley, who has 22 years at Pinckney under her belt, and reading teacher Bitsey Patton, who has spent 12 years at Pinckney.

“People stay at Pinckney,” Gill said Wednesday during a group interview.

“It’s the family part,” Heffley said.

“It’s a true community school,” Gill said. “It really is.”

The teachers say the school has benefited from continuity. The longest-serving teacher has still worked for only two principals: the current one, Lesa Frantz, who came aboard in 1996, and Frantz’s predecessor, Gary Freeman, who led the school since 1973.

Additionally, many families have stayed in the school’s neighborhood, allowing some of the teachers to teach multiple generations.

Changing classroom

The teaching profession has also changed, they said, partly because of technology.

“I don’t do anything today that I learned to do in college — nothing,” said Reeder, the longtime librarian.

“Except for the people skills,” Spradlin said.

Students have more distractions, like video games, but in some ways “kids are kids,” Spradlin said.

Research-based practices and more calls for accountability in schools have created positive results for students, they said.

“It’s so much harder to (be a teacher) than what it was 33 years ago, but we just have constant training on getting better,” Evers said. “The thing that’s exciting about being a teacher is that you are always learning things.”

Frantz said the seven teachers are like the building blocks for the school.

“(Replacing) the foundation is replacing positions, but not people because they are irreplaceable,” she said.

Teachers who would have lost positions in the district will move in to the Pinckney vacancies, Frantz said. The school will work on team-building over the summer to incorporate new staff members.

The seven retiring teachers are confident Pinckney will continue to be successful under Frantz’s leadership, the current teachers and involvement from school families.

Other retired teachers still find time to help at the school, so it’s likely the seven will not stray far from Pinckney and one another.

Several of them recited a motto Wednesday that Frantz often mentions: Once a Panther, always a Pinckney Panther.

“So all of us can come back,” Spradlin said.

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pz5g1 8 years, 1 month ago

Something's going on to lose that many veteran teachers at one time.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

They're likely offering incentives to leave. Combine that with uncertainty about whether or not Pickney will remain open, and the early deadline to commit to retiring, and you've got a mass exodus.

cowboy 8 years, 1 month ago

Enjoy your retirements ! You deserve some peace and quiet after many years of kids ! You will be missed

youngjayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

Congrats to an outstanding group of educators; retirement ROCKS!

local_support 8 years, 1 month ago

What about your teachers lawrenceguy? After reading your comments they must have all been in "retirement" by the time you reached them.

amrose42683 8 years, 1 month ago

Wow, lawrenceguy40: Let me guess, you have no children and are in retirement yourself so you could care less about the education of our youth and aren't going to be around long enough to see them as our leaders. We are moving into the Pinckney school district so that my daughter can attend school there based off of the great reputation it has received and the "family feel" that it emits. Congratulations to all of these teachers. I can only imagine the number of children you have helped educate over the years with true passion for your jobs and an obviously love of the school you worked for. Good luck to your replacements as it appears they have some outstanding teachers to live up to. And, yes, lawrenceguy, there should be replacements. Children have to have teachers. If you look at the number that are leaving there is no way these positions can be left empty. Pinckney has already shifted people around to accomodate teachers leaving there, so new ones will have to come in. Those that lost their jobs in other districts deserve to find new positions as well.

tomatogrower 8 years, 1 month ago

True. Lawrenceguy40 probably doesn't know many people at all, let alone teachers. Who would want to be around someone who's so negative. Maybe he was the kid in school who was always in trouble and blamed the teachers for picking on him when he was punished. Boohoo.

tomatogrower 8 years, 1 month ago

All we ever hear from you is negative whines. You were the only one here whining. Everyone else were praising these teachers. They were obviously good teachers, and probably produced many productive citizens. Go live in your bunker, and don't bother those of us who believe in community.

waswade 8 years, 1 month ago

Pinckney is loosing some excellent teaching talent. They will be deeply missed by those in the Pinckney community.

saraheckman 8 years, 1 month ago

I was at Pinckney from 1992 through 1999. I had Mrs. Greene, she taught me to spell because, mouse and house by making up songs and chants, and her husband Mr. Greene told the tallest tales. I had Mrs. Gill and Mrs. Spradlin and I still remember doing the Olympic games when we studied ancient Greece. I loved Mrs. Reeder and I though all librarians were named Reeder. I was in the same grade with Mrs. Heffley's daughter. You all are a wonderful group of teachers and are irreplaceable in my eyes. I am graduating from Washburn today and I finished this semester student teaching 6th, 7th and 8th grade. I used so many of the things that I learned from Pinckney, including the Greek Olympics. The 6th graders loved it and the ones who struggle with social studies had tons of fun. Thank you ladies, for my educational experience.

Sara Heckman

puddleglum 8 years, 1 month ago

lawrenceguy40, please go back to topeka, or missouri.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 1 month ago

lawrenceguy40 is doing some quality fishing today.

Smart fish won't take the bait.

RoeDapple 8 years, 1 month ago

Ya know, . . .he can claim anything he wants from his momma's basement . . . just sayin' . . .

OaklandRaidersNation 8 years, 1 month ago

I just want to say thank you ......... all of the teachers mentioned taught my son and we had a really good relationship and I thought you all were my son is graduating from Free's all good.....

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