Three RES Teachers Retiring
Communities / May. 30, 2013 11:09am EDT
Becky Wood, Leslie Hutchinson, and Carol Petty have 98 years of teaching experience between them.
Hutchinson has taught at all four Randolph district elementary schools over the past 34 years.
Originally from Portsmouth, N.H., Hutchinson graduated from Plymouth State College in 1973. After graduation she moved to Vermont to live on the Hutchinson homestead in Peth with her new husband, Jim.
Her first teaching job out of college put her in the former one-room schoolhouse in Snowsville, teaching grades 1-6.
“I’ve often said I wish that I could do that again with all the knowledge I’ve learned teaching all these grades,” she reflected.
She currently teaches kindergarten at RES, though she has taught all grades at Randolph schools.
During her time as a teacher, Hutchinson has had the opportunity to form strong connections with both students and parents.
“Not only have I been able to work with these amazing kids, but there are some amazing parents,” she said.
Perhaps the best example of her gratitude towards the parents of students is her desk drawer: It’s full of thank-you notes.
“I’ve saved every single note that was ever written to me,” she explained, “We don’t get a whole lot of kudos, so when a parent takes the time and sits down and writes you a letter that says ‘thank-you,’ it’s wonderful.”
Some of her fondest memories of teaching at RES come from the more unconventional times.
“When I first started at the old Village School, it was condemned. And all of the classes were farmed out in the community,” Hutchinson laughed. “I ended up in the band room of the high school.”
After retirement she looks forward to spending time with her brand new granddaughter, the eighth generation of the Hutchinson family to live on the homestead.
Carol Petty has taught at RES for
32 years after graduating from UVM with a degree in early childhood and human development. She started her career as a preschool teacher and then moved to teaching kindergarten, and eventually moved to first and second grades. “One of the exciting things about teaching is that things change all the time,” Petty said. The most fulfilling part of teaching, she said, came through the connections she made with her students; she preferred the times when she kept students for two years. “It gives a longer perspective on their growth and changes, and even with their families, really getting to know them,” she explained. In her time at RES, she has seen generations of students march through her classroom. “I know some of my old students as parents.” These parents are former students that now have children in her classroom, the same parents she runs into in the grocery store. After retirement, Petty looks forward to spending more time with her own grandchildren and visiting her parents in Texas. She advises new teachers that “there will be hard moments, but it will never be boring and it will always be rewarding.” To stay connected with the school and community, she wants to train her dog to participate in the PAWS program at RES, a reading program that connects adults and their dogs in the community with students. “Some kids are very comfortable when they have a dog there, it makes it more fun to read than just work,” she said. “It’s the connection with both the person, dog, and reading and it all comes together to make reading a real positive experience.”
Becky Wood has taught at RES for 32 years, starting part-time as a paraprofessional. She worked while she earned her degree, attending night classes at St. Joseph’s three nights a week in addition to raising a family. Wood earned her full degree in ’93 and has been a full-time educator ever since.
Speaking with Wood, you can tell she loved teaching and has a true heart for her work.
“You get an opportunity to provide support to and for children,” she said, “It’s a big responsibility, but it allows parents to know that their children are safe and that we’re doing the very best we can for them.”
Wood worked with students K-6 as a special educator, providing support for classroom teachers. A difficult thing about teaching, Wood said, stemmed from the technology.
“Technology has taken over the minds of the public,” she said. Many children are now more familiar with fast-paced technology than with print books and other teaching methods, a fact that Wood expressed makes teaching a challenge at times.
Fortunately, RES stepped up to the plate technologically, and provided new technology for the classrooms, including Smart Boards and iPads.
Her life motto reads, “In the big picture of life, we have to learn to let some things go.” She applies this motto to teaching and commented, “If you are teaching because you want to empower children, then it’s not about us. It’s about what we can do for them.”
After retiring, Wood plans to engage in the things she loves that have fallen by the wayside, namely reading, gardening, crafts, and even camping with her husband. She hopes this life-shift will also allow her more time with her church and 13 grandchildren.