Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Retiring from a career dedicated to teaching children

Our children have been blessed with so many wonderful teachers over the years. Chris and Kieran have been lucky to share a few teachers along the way, in kindergarten, second grade, and next year in fourth grade.
I will never forget the first time we got to know Renay...Mike used to organize the school book sale, and as we were setting up beforehand, the teachers would come and have the first pick of the books. Renay came to shop and we started talking and discovered a shared love of books. A few days later, we were in the Cannon Beach Book Company, and we ran into her there--she was on a retreat with her book group. I had high hopes, after those two incidents, that she would be Chris' teacher, and we were right!

When she taught Chris in second grade, she had planned to retire a few years later. We wished desperately that she would still be around when Kieran reached second grade. Fortunately for us she decided to postpone her retirement and last year, and Kieran got to be in her class. But this year, it finally happened. Our family's beloved teacher retired, and the school celebrated her career.

Receiving her award
First up, she received the Portland PTA Teacher of the Year Award (nominated by families at the school). What a way to go off into the sunset! I felt very lucky to be invited to the banquet and get to see Renay (who hates public speaking) receive her award and give a great speech!

With her kids, staff, and school volunteers

With Maplewood colleagues

Love this photo but wish it weren't so blurry!

With second-grader Chris

And second grader Kieran
Renay has been such a supporter of our kids' activities--
she's come to countless of Kieran's performances, and Chris' too!
This is from the last performance of Kieran's Hullabaloo,
with his third grade teacher and her husband as well as Renay's niece
On the last day I sang with the kids (I've been going into Renay's class the last two years to sing with the kids), we debuted a song I wrote for her retirement. (Part of why I volunteered in her classroom for two years in a row was selfish...I have always loved being around her and seeing her interactions with children.) I consulted other parents and her colleagues for ideas, and they sent me all sorts of wonderful anecdotes about their children's relationships and memories of Renay. I used these treasures to write a song to the tune of "Waltzing Mathilda" (her favorite song). (One of the second-grade moms wrote the second verse after revealing a fondness for writing lyrics!) The kids practiced at home and I recruited the third graders to help, and we surprised her the Friday before the last day of school.

Receiving her gift certificate
The wonderful Maplewood community, many of whom had children in Renay's classes or teachers who worked with her, came together to raise funds to give her a trip to Hawaii. I will never forget the look in her eyes as the luau-themed classroom was full of families, friends, and colleagues (including our current and former principals). She was truly speechless. Everyone in the room was delighted to be able to give her a gift that she truly deserved after so many hours of teaching our children. Mollie, one of the second-grade moms, was determined to "go big," and man did they go big!!

Then we sang her song again. Here is the song, which reflects the individual care and attention she gave to each child in her class, and the unique love she had for teaching. And man was it impossible to make it through this song without crying!!

Who’ll Come A’Learnin? (for Renay Schaeffer)


1. Once a special teacher worked at a Portland school
Under the shade of a Maplewood tree
And she sang as she taught and changed the lives of children here
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me?

Chorus:
Reading our stories, learning subtraction
Balance and motion, and spinning with glee
And she sang as she taught and changed the lives of children here
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me?

2. Often jolly leprechauns sprang up near that Portland school
Looking for gold in the Maplewood tree
The teacher and the children kindly trapped the leprechauns
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me? (Chorus)

Chorus:

Reading our stories, learning subtraction
Balance and motion, and spinning with glee
The teacher and children kindly trapped the leprechauns
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me?

3. Sitting in the PTA, meetings stretching after work
Getting new carpets for story time
Customizing learning plans, tailoring to every child
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me? (Chorus)

Chorus:

Reading our stories, learning subtraction
Balance and motion, and spinning with glee
Customizing learning plans, tailoring to every child
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me?

4. Trekking off on field trips, studying the sun and rain
Yoga and xylophone to calm things down
Laughing and smiling, showing endless patience
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me? (Chorus)

Chorus:

Reading our stories, learning subtraction
Balance and motion, and spinning with glee
Laughing and smiling, showing endless patience
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me?

5. Piggy banks and story hats, studying the animals
Loving her students and parents too
Seeing the beauty in each and every precious child
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me? (Chorus)

Chorus:

Reading our stories, learning subtraction
Balance and motion, and spinning with glee
Seeing the beauty in each and every precious child
Who’ll come a’learnin, my children, with me?

6. Now this gentle teacher’s career has traveled to an end
We’ll never be the same again, will we?
Children, parents, teachers, we’re all so sad to see her go
We’ll love Mrs. Schaeffer forever, won’t we?

Chorus:

Reading our stories, learning subtraction
Balance and motion, and spinning with glee
Children, parents, teachers, we’re all so sad to see her go
We’ll love Mrs. Schaeffer forever, won’t we?

That last verse is the one that gets me every time. I'm so happy for her that she gets to retire (and wait for granchildren), but our school will never be the same without her. We feel so blessed that we got two years with her!

No comments:

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget