From my desk

Bob Williams

The month of May brings a lot of transitions, especially at schools.

Prom quickly leads to graduation and the group of departing seniors will soon become freshmen at college or move on to the next steps in their lives, whatever those might be. Part of the wonder at that age is a fine line between hope and uncertainty.

The incoming junior class begins their final calendar year at high school with a needed summer break.

Those transitions can run the gauntlet of thrilling to terrifying. It isn’t easy to decide what one wants to do with their life at the age of 17 or 18.

Fast forward a few decades and a different set of life changes present their own difficulties and pleasures.

Last week, I got to speak in-depth with three retiring employees of the school district.

While deciding to retire is a lengthy decision that involves family members and some soul searching, those difficulties tend to fade when retiring teachers are asked to talk about their careers and how they got to that point.

While kids set off on their own trajectories, these faculty members who helped get them there have stories upon stories of who influenced them in their career pursuits, who sustained them over decades of work and what they’re looking forward to when it comes to an end as new beginnings enter the present and become real.

In between those axioms are a lot of laughs. 

That being said, teaching can be difficult and it is certainly a noble pursuit. 

It’s definitely not the best paying gig in the world, there is a lot of stress and planning and a big pile of responsibility. I know. I come from a family of them and never pondered it as a career. While I enjoy public speaking far more than the average person, I always felt the level of responsibility in helping to form the minds of today’s youth was better left to other people.

Thinking back to all the teachers who inspired me as a student, there was something special about them. Something I definitely don’t have.

So when I get to talk to those who have successfully navigated those waters for decades, it’s a personal treat to listen and learn about how they managed to do it so well for so long. I can find ways to use that information to make myself a better journalist. I’m inspired by how much this trio cared about their jobs, students, families and co-workers. 

It’s simply impossible to do a job well for decades, in any field, without caring a lot about what it is you do and how you do it.

Two of the three retiring teachers were either taught by or taught with my dad over his three decades working in the district. Those chats are even more special to me.

Many of the old names of former teachers at FHS I distinctly recall as a kid came up in our chats. So many characters from days gone by like Woody Blasing, Dave Ferguson, Rich Kostynick, Eldon Bergman, Denny Anderson…the list goes on and on.

With those names came influential stories and hilarious anecdotes which nudged a lot of personal memories of being in Frazee the latter three decades of last century.

You know you’re having a good week at work when you get to hear two stories about Frazee legend Frank Hesby…and his pipe.

Congratulations to Brian Tangen, Doug Schwarzrock and Karrie Schultz on their retirements. They’ll be missed, I’m sure.