The last day of school was an opportunity for new retirees encouraging future teachers to reflect on their teaching careers and voice hopes for their younger colleagues. They also have thoughts about the students they spent a significant part of their lives influencing.
“You dream about them, think about them, pray for them, cry for them … for the nine months in a school year, they’re yours,” said Shari Cooper, who is retiring from Oakland Elementary School in Bloomington after 29 years in the education profession. She is among dozens of Twin City teachers who will experience their first day of retirement on the first day of summer vacation.
Cooper finds that the biggest changes since she started teaching include central air conditioning and the emergence of technology.
“The role of teaching has not changed, though,” said another retireee, Eden Davis. “We encouraged, nurtured, tied shoes and wiped noses then just like we do now.” She taught third grade for 20 years, retiring after a 28 year long career. She believes that increased classroom sizes due to diminished funding is one of the biggest challenges teachers face today.
“The schools have to be careful how their money is spent. If they can pack the classrooms, it’s one less teacher to hire. We understand, but we don’t like it,” said Davis. “Lawmakers like to cut, but we’ve cut to the point where we’re bleeding.”