District 204 Teachers Retire After 30 Years in Education
After more than 30 years in education Maria Walther is retiring from Indian Prairie School District 204.
Walther a first grade teacher at Gwendolyn Brooks Elementary , says its time for the next generation of educators to take the helm.
Reasons For Retirement
“It’s time for the younger teachers, I want to help them,” said Walther. “And I love it. I think that mainly why, I’m leaving when I love it. And so that why I decided to do it now.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Michelle Corlew, who’s retiring after 32 years at District 204. The Metea Valley High School Science teacher is also looking forward to some more z’s in her life.
“It’s hard to get up 5 a.m. for 32 years,” said Corlew. “So it’s time to get up maybe a little bit later than 5 a.m.”
Walther will go into education consulting and Corlew is helping to construct science coursework.
Changes In District 204
The two have been at IPSD for 30 years each and have seen a lot of growth in the district.
“When I started there was one high school and now we have three. We have I don’t know how many buildings, but there were only a handful of buildings when I started. So there’s been a lot of change,” said Corlew.
Speaking of which, the two have never seen a change like the current situation they’re in right now, with remote learning for the rest of the school year.
It’s had its particular challenges for Walther’s younger students.
“The first time we Zoomed we were thinking the kids just want to see each other and have a conversation like you and I would do,” said Walther. “But they didn’t really know how to navigate that, in this environment. So today we played a word game, “Mystery Bag???”, so kids are asking questions. We really have found that if you had a structure activity of sorts where everyone can participate that was better.”
The sudden cancelation of in-school for the remaining school year was a hard pill to swallow not only for seniors, but also for the retiring teachers.
“Having all seniors they were all looking forward to their last ‘this’. This will be my last prom, my last test, my last final, my last season as an athlete,” said Corlew. “And I can relate because I was looking forward to those ‘last’ things too, and I didn’t get to have all of them either.”
What Walther & Corlew Will Remember The Most From Their Teaching Career
But both teachers will remember more than just the last couple months of their teaching careers. Walther says she’ll cherish the memories of reading out loud to her class.
“I just feel like if you can read then you can learn anything you want to learn. And so helping students get off on the right foot as readers, believing that they are readers, making it fun and exciting, having them leave first grade loving to read is my goal,” said Walther.
For Corlew it’s the students who have helped shape the person she is, that she’ll treasure most.
“They have taught me so much. I think most things I’ve learned [from them]. When you walk into a classroom all that preparation, it’s like you’re just an open slate, it might as well be for not, you know? Because you learn so much about how to approach people, how to motivate, how to get ideas across,” said Corlew.
Both teachers say they will take a well-deserved vacation when the time allows them to do so safely. They’re leaving on their terms – the best of terms – and knowing they made a difference in their students’ lives.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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