Five Cassville teachers announce their retirement after the school year
February 4, 2015
At the start of the next school year, five faces familiar to Cassville Schools will no longer be seen in the classrooms. Teachers Sherri Brooks, Wendy Miekley, Kaye Hughes, Janet Kice, and Alene Campbell are retiring from education after the school year ends this May.
Retiring teacher Sherri Brooks has spent almost 30 years teaching in Cassville R-IV. During her career, she has had a variety of experiences, including teaching second grade, sixth grade math and science, and seventh grade math.
Brooks likens teaching styles to a pendulum. “The teaching style we use will go away for awhile, and we will change how we do it,” she said. “Then, it will come back with a different name and a few changes, but will basically be the same thing.”
Asked about her retirement, Brooks said she plans to keep busy. “There are so many things that I would like to do, I don’t really know where I will start,” she said. “Whatever it is, I want it to be as enjoyable as teaching has been.”
For those who are considering becoming teachers, Brooks suggested they get their feet wet by becoming substitute teachers. “Try to get into as many classrooms as you can,” she said. “Number one, you will see if you think that is really what you want to do. The second thing is, you will see which age group appeals to you and maybe even a particular subject that you would like to teach.”
Brooks also said even those who become teachers should never forget that they are also students. “Once you start teaching, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from the veterans. They have been there, and they have a wealth of knowledge that can help you a lot. Be a life-long learner. We can learn new things everyday. That is what keeps it fresh and new.”
Cassville teacher Wendy Miekley will retire after a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, 22 of those at Cassville. Before coming to Cassville, Miekley was already a veteran educator. She taught at Lebanon High School and Purdy Elementary for the first seven years of her career. When she came to Cassville, Miekley taught third grade for 12 years, followed by 10 years of teaching fifth grade.
Miekley, who graduated from Cassville High School, said her path as an educator began during her senior year of high school when she helped in a fifth grade classroom. “I loved seeing a child grasp a new concept or get excited about learning something new, and that is still with me,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed witnessing it in my classroom in first graders though high school seniors.”
Though much has changed in teaching over the last 30 years, a guiding principle in Miekley’s educational philosophy has remained constant. “I still believe that every individual excels at some subjects and must learn to persevere at those that don’t come so easily,” she said.
Miekley plans a very active retirement. She has been working on a list of “100 Fun Things to Do upon Retirement,” though she said she has only come up with 21 so far, including learning how to play the banjo and starting a small business. “I hear I’ll be raking hay,” she said, “and I hope we’ll be going camping. I also hope to do more with my Longaberger business and my eBay store.”
For those who are planning to go into teaching, Miekley recommends it only for those who are truly dedicated to helping children learn. “Be strong, be energetic and enthusiastic,” she said. “Examine why you think you want to pursue teaching as a career, and be sure that will sustain you when working long hours for lower pay than what your peers will receive in their careers. You must be passionate about teaching and excited about seeing learning happening.”
Kaye Hughes is retiring after a total of 25 years as an educator. She began her career at Wheaton Elementary and later came to Cassville where she taught sixth grade communication arts, social studies and science for 13 years. For the last five years, she has taught seventh grade communication arts.
According to Hughes, the greatest change she has seen in education has been her own approach to the way she grades her students. “Many of us only experienced traditional grading as students and continue to use traditional grading in our classrooms,” she said. “I believe grading should be based on what students know and can show you they know for each skill that is needed to be successful at that grade level for that content.”
Though Hughes is retiring, she plans to continue to serve in the community, though she has not yet decided in what way yet. “I feel I am being led to make this change,” she said, “whether that is continuing to teach in some capacity, volunteering in my church more, or just being there for my five grandsons as they grow. I am excited for this new adventure.”
Hughes’s advice to those who plan to become teachers is to make sure it is their calling and to be life-long learners. “There will be hard days, and there will be great days,” she said. “Make sure you love what you are doing. Do not become stagnate and unwilling to always learn. Keep on learning with your students and find ways to make yourself the best at whatever profession you choose.”
After 15 years at Cassville R-IV, Janet Kice is preparing to retire. She has spent numerous years teaching fifth and sixth grades.
Kice actually began her teaching career in 1980 in Wichita, Kan. Later, she taught fifth grade and seventh grade math in Paola, Kan. for 15 years. After their sons were raised, she and her husband decided to move into the area to continue their careers.
During her many years in education, Kice has seen many changes in the field. “When my career started,” she said, “teachers couldn’t envision how technology and high stakes testing would drive student learning.”
Kice and her husband are retiring together, and they are looking forward to taking it easy. “We will definitely sleep a bit later in the mornings,” she said. “There will be a much longer boating and fishing season for us on Table Rock Lake, and we will travel to Kansas City and Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas to visit our children on a regular basis. Finally, we’re looking forward to lots of traveling, especially to warm beaches during the winter months.”
For young people who are considering making education their careers, Kice has this advice: “Be assured, education is a rewarding career. It is remarkable how often a former student stops by in the classroom with a sweet memory about something we had shared that made a difference in their life. Know that teaching is an important vocation, and you will make a difference in the lives of children.”
Alene Campbell will be retiring after 23 years as a teacher. She taught for 13 years at the Southwest R-V District before coming to Cassville. As a teacher in Cassville, she has taught reading and technology for eight years and was also an instructional technology coach for two years.
Campbell said her views on teaching have changed greatly. “When I first started in education, my view was the teacher was more of a lecturer with students completing paper and pencil-type activities. These paper and pencil activities were what would show student learning. Now, my view is there are multiple ways for students to demonstrate their learning.”
Despite the changes, Campbell said one factor in student learning remains constant. “All students have needs that need to be met in order for them to be able to learn,” she said.
Campbell would like to travel and see her grandchildren after she retires but also wants to continue learning. “I want to take up new hobbies,” she said.
For those who are thinking about becoming teachers, Campbell’s advice is to be flexible. “The occupation is not an 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. job,” she said. “You will spend lots of hours outside of the school researching for tools, methods or activities that will engage students in order to see that needs are met for as many students as possible.
“I would say also to be flexible in your materials you use to deliver information. Be willing to change and adapt if an activity didn’t proceed as planned.”