Two recent articles profiled longtime teachers, one who retired last year and another who retired several years ago but who continued as an educator for several more years.
In both cases, their careers offer lessons for today’s educators.
Beulah Schrader of Franklin taught first grade from 1959 through 1983. After retirement, she taught adult literacy classes for several years and helped train other literacy teachers.
When Schrader started teaching, many of her students hadn’t attended kindergarten and didn’t know even the rudiments of reading, such as letter recognition. But other students already could read.
To handle that wide range of abilities, she assigned the youngsters library books to read based on their skill levels. She also had them track what vocabulary words they were learning.
She created her own lessons to help students understand what they were reading and to ensure they all knew how the words they were learning were supposed to sound.
Schrader says that students today have many resources to become better readers. Teachers, though, have more pressure today as they work to ensure students pass standardized tests. But she said it is important that teachers continue to closely monitor how well students keep up with what’s being taught.
Helen Crawford taught starting in 1962 in northern Indiana and from 1974 to 2013 in Greenwood. She started with fifth grade then taught high-ability students. Later, she served as director of elementary curriculum and oversaw the implementation of ISTEP and other required exams.
Like Schrader, Crawford dealt with a range of abilities by catering her instructional strategies to meet individual student needs. When she taught high-ability classes, she created more challenging lessons and arranged special experiences to keep the students engaged.
Today, high-ability students remain in classrooms with regular students, but Crawford said the more rigorous lessons could be used by all students in a class in one form or another.
Both teachers enjoyed long careers and influenced generations of students. Their emphasis on being flexible and seeking to meet the needs of all students are lessons we all can learn from.