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Reflecting on 35 years as an elementary teacher

Reflecting on 35 years as an elementary teacher Reflecting on 35 years as an elementary teacher

In the fall of 1965, I became the first member of my entire family to become enrolled in college. This came as quite a surprise to everyone. However, they were even more surprised when they learned I was going to become an elementary teacher.

Upon graduating from Taylor County Teacher’s College, I accepted my first teaching position as a sixth-grade teacher in Elk Mound, at a salary of $4,200. Little did I realize at that time that this would be the beginning of a 35-year career.

I had a variety of both beautiful and challenging experiences over my career. I attended a funeral for a student who was run over by a school bus, and I watched another student’s life slowly being taken by cancer. I spent time in juvenile court with students who had severe challenges, and I worked with students who struggled to learn through no fault of their own.

I sometimes wished that I could have been a teacher in Mayberry. When I watched Miss Crump in her classroom, I noticed everything was in perfect order. Her desktop was always spotless, and her students would rise when answering a question. One thing I often wondered about was why Miss Crump was the only teacher that Opie and his friends had all through his school days.

One thing I learned early on in teaching is that sometimes young students take everything you say literally. One year on the first day of school, I told my third-grade students that I did not want them to call me “teacher.” I said they could call me “Mr. Anderson. Mr. A. or even Honeybunch,” but they were not to call me “teacher.” For the next 10 years, one boy called me “Honeybunch.” During his senior year in high school, whenever he would see me, he would say, “Hi Honeybunch.” But it was never meant disrespectfully.

Eventually, that young man went off to college at Whitewater. One day I received a letter from the dean of education.

He wanted to share a paper that was written by my student that talked about the significant influence I was on his life.

Teaching was a great life. However, retirement is even better. I consider each new day to be a “snow day.” A snow day I don’t have to ever make up.

Ken Anderson, the “Mayberry Guru,” can be reached at and www.themayberryguru. com.