They are a part of our lives in the very early years. We spend about seven hours a day with them, give or take a little time out for lunch and recess
They are with us for a scant 180 days, followed by three months of forgetting, and then we meet a new one in the fall.
In the early years, we have just one primary teacher a year, but as the years go by we have different teachers for every subject in the book.
How can we be expected to remember one from the next?
And yet, is there anyone out there who cannot quickly recall the name of most, if not all of his or her elementary school teachers? (Sister Metta, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Boland, Sister Martha, Mrs. Henrickson, Mrs. Shelton, and Sister Lucy — just to prove a point.)
Val Schaefer has reached that point in her career when the fun really begins. The students she had in her early years of teaching are old enough to come back and share a few memories.
“Lately I’ve really enjoyed reconnecting with students that I had a long time ago,” Schaefer says. “Knowing that they remember me really makes it worthwhile.”
An Iowa Falls native, Schaefer graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1976. She earned her undergraduate degree from Wartburg College and is nearing completion of a master’s degree in reading from Morningside College.
She taught in Nora Springs and Vinton before joining the Clear Lake district about 25 years ago. While many teachers spend most of a career in one grade level, Schaefer has enjoyed moving from grade to grade, having taught kindergarten, second, third and fourth grades. She’s now been teaching first grade for five years.
“I’ve kind of enjoyed teaching the different levels,” she says. “It’s fun to see what the kids do in each grade level.”
But regardless of what she is teaching, Schaefer says her real goal is to foster a love of learning. She wants her students to know that she cares about them and wants to help get them off to a great start in life.
“I want them to remember not so much what I taught them, but that I cared about them, and that I will always care about them,” she concludes.