In their decades of teaching, they’ve helped start the first high school girls sports teams and learned new technology that replaced textbooks in their classrooms.
Now, those educators are moving on. Four dozen educators are retiring from public schools in Johnson County.
Center Grove has 14 teachers retiring. Franklin and Greenwood have 11 each. Clark-Pleasant has eight and Nineveh Hensley Jackson has four. Ten of 11 of Franklin retirees took part in the school district’s buyout program meant to help pay incoming teachers more, and each of the retiring teachers will be paid $5,000 annually from ages 58 until 65, Franklin communications specialist Robin Betts said.
The teachers retiring across the county take hundreds of years of teaching experience with them.
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Most of those retiring started teaching 30 or 40 years ago, in the 1970s and 1980s, before the technology that is in every student’s hands now was invented.
Now, at least some students all of Johnson County’s public school districts use tablets or laptops in lieu of traditional textbooks. Teachers have undergone training, making sure they know how to use the devices in their classrooms.
“The technology is moving at lightning speed,” said Debbie Witt, retired first grade teacher from Indian Creek Elementary School.
Throughout the years, the curriculum teachers must cover has also made huge transformations, teachers said.
When Barb Peabody started teaching, kindergarten students had to know their vowels, colors and other basic skills. Now they are expected to read, said Peabody, a retired kindergarten teacher from Westwood Elementary School in Greenwood.
Eighth grade students are now taking advanced courses that high school students were taking decades ago, such as biology or advanced Spanish, said Sue Galloway, retired health and physical education teacher at Clark-Pleasant Middle School. Galloway was asked to coach the first girls sports teams after Title IX was enacted, which stated that every high school has to provide the same extracurricular activities for girls as they do boys.
When Galloway started teaching, not every classroom even had a phone. She has watched as technology has advanced, and now every student at the middle school has their own tablet for their school work.
“It was a slow change, it wasn’t anything that happened over night,” she said.
In her decades as a counselor at Greenwood Community Middle School, Lhea Hesler has seen some technology make being a teenager more difficult than it was in the past, she said. Technology and social media has magnified social issues for students, she said.
Some things about teaching haven’t changed, retiring teachers said.
All still loved the interaction they had with students on a daily basis, and knew the importance of those interactions, they said.
“It is still important to have that human touch and the connection with the students,” Hesler said.
Here is a look at the number of teachers retiring in each school district:
Center Grove: 14