Six staff members are preparing for retirement at the end of the 2018-19 school year. Many of these teachers have been teaching for at least two decades but are trading their pens and pencils for a new chapter in their lives.
Dave Rahtz, science teacher, and John Bayer, biology teacher, have both been teaching in the building since the 1980’s. Rahtz has taught in all three PHS ‘locations’: the building before the tornado, the temporary building when the current building was being constructed, and the current building. Bayer has also been here for a longer period than most teachers. He has plenty of experience in teaching kids for many years.
“Rule number one: you got to enjoy kids. They’ll throw a curveball at you. If you don’t like kids, this ain’t the place to be,” Bayer said.
The school environment will always have a new mix of students and faculty every year. One of the most significant changes is technology, because computers and cell phones are more accessible to everyone. Despite all the materialistic tools that teachers and students use, people are still using the building to learn and to teach.
“[This career has] given me perspective of change, but also how students are the same for the most part,” Rahtz said.
Many of the teachers retiring look back on their years and remember how students made an impact on their careers.
“As far as the job goes, it’s the connection with the students [that’s] something like no other job I’ve had. The emotional connection [grows] over these weeks in school,” Tom Bond, math teacher, said.
Jason Kopek, student resource officer, is always observing student behavior when he is on the school campus.
“[My favorite memory of being a student resource officer is] probably the first several weeks I was assigned here after having been a police officer for about 25 years… actually seeing good kids doing things they’re supposed to be doing, it’s just amazing,” Kopek said. “Those things are probably my favorite.”
Now that their final year as teachers is ending, they are all planning for what’s coming next.
“This is a new chapter in my life. I don’t know what I’m going into, but I’m looking forward to it,” Mark Hudson, physical education teacher, said.
Some are planning on staying in the area for a few more years, and a few are also hoping to head to new places where they can enjoy the next step in their lives.
“My wife says I can’t do nothing, I have to find a job, something where I don’t have to think,” Phil Coats, special eduaction teacher, said.