This fall will be markedly different for Debbie Brown.
“Every fall for my entire life, since I was 5, I’ve been going to school,” Brown says. “And this fall, I won’t be going to school.”
That’s because Brown, a fourth grade teacher at Winterset Middle School, is retiring after teaching for 28 years.
At first, she had mixed feelings about leaving a job, students and colleagues that she enjoyed.
“But I’m ready to go and have some fun and do some of the things that I haven’t had time to do before,” she says. Volunteering and taking care of her seven grandchildren are on her list, and she also plans to return to substitute teaching.
Despite her long career as an educator, it was not Brown’s first career choice. Her parents were teachers, as were many of her aunts, and she thought she should leave the family profession to pursue something else. She considered becoming a physical therapist.
“But when it came down to it, that wasn’t what I enjoyed,” Brown says. She did like working with kids. And that interaction with them will be what she misses most when she retires.
The greatest joy of her job has been planning lessons and coming up with creative, fun ideas for students. How she accomplishes that has been dramatically affected by the increasing use of technology, she says. The wide variety of tools they use in the classroom has made learning more diverse and interactive for students.
But technology also evolves quickly, Brown says. Younger teachers have been able to adapt to it better than she has because it’s second nature to them. Her retiring will give teachers more accustomed to working with technology a chance to teach, she says.
As she leaves this year, Brown says it’s been rewarding to know she’s had a small impact on the lives of her students, who have grown into fine adults. She also feels fortunate to have had great co-workers.
“I’ve had wonderful administrators to work for and wonderful teachers to work with,” she says. “They just make your job fun and they’ve been very professional, and they’re all really good teachers, so they’ve been good mentors for me as well.”