Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Veteran Teacher Courtney Happy to Offer Insights

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Veteran Teacher Courtney Happy to Offer Insights

Article excerpt

In a year of unusually high teacher retirements, in a summer when dozens of teacher positions still have not been filled, attention turns to the number of new teachers who will stand in front of students in less than a month. Who better to offer advice to these new teachers than veteran teachers who retired in 2014 after decades in the classroom? Today, Paula Courtney, a K-8 teacher for 39 years, offers insights for teachers just starting out.

Courtney began her student teaching at Hebron Elementary in 1974 and ended her teaching career there in 2014. Across the span of four decades, she taught at Highland, Delaware, Vogel and Oak Hill.

What were the highlights? Courtney says finding that one colleague "that you click with, that has the same philosophy as you, that shares your love of kids and your humor, makes teaching fun and exciting." Working cooperatively with colleagues, Courtney says, "allows you to start with an idea and make it a reality."

Courtney's favorite colleague, though there were many friends along the way, was fellow teacher Cathy Witte.

"When I retired and started going through my files, I remembered seeing so many of our ideas that came to life in the classroom, like Rookie Research, which we paired with Earth Day, which we supplemented with a movie field trip. All of it incorporated so many different standards in an original way."

Courtney laments that by the time she retired, she had lost much control of the curriculum, that much of teaching had become "prescribed." She says that individual talents that each teacher brings to the classroom "aren't valued as much as when I began teaching."

But she stresses that there's still room for teaching to come to life, and she offers this advice for teachers who will begin the year next month. "First, teach to the whole child. Remember that data is only one part. …

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