Congratulations to our 2016 group of retirees. You will be missed!
Richard Ahlvers – I started teaching in St. Charles, Mo. In the early 80’s I was laid off and had to do a lot of different jobs to feed my four hungry kids. I was a roofer, truck driver, salesman and a designer for a custom lighting company. I went back to teaching in the late 80’s.
I have enjoyed sharing art with students and seeing some of them catch that creative spark that leads to some creative work. Coaching was fun most of the time. Defeating Edwardsville and Collinsville in Basketball or Belleville in Softball are good memories. For a lot of years at Coolidge I was that guy out there leading the assemblies, helping with the dances and the talent shows doing crazy stuff in front the entire school. It was a special time for me to be here in GC when my two youngest kids were in Jr. High and High School. I got to be involved more with them and their friends.
In the future I look forward to either being a rock star or playing 2nd base for the Cards. But if those don’t work out we will do some traveling and I will keep making my art.
The teachers who have a positive impact on students are the teachers who have a passion for their subject and for life and pass that love onto the next generation. Hopefully you can be that person and have FUN doing it!
Kiki (Betty) Cochran – I was a stay at home mom, who started college at 30 and was hired by Granite at 10:30 p.m. the evening of the first day of the 1990-91 school year, when I was 34. My placement for 12 years was as a kindergarten teacher at Lake School. I started out teaching half day kindergarten for the first few years, and then served as one of the pilot teachers for full day kindergarten. As a full day pilot teacher I had a class size limit of 28 and thought that was amazing, since my half day classes were usually 31-33 students each. I finished my Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 1995 and then ultimately earned a Reading Endorsement.
When Lake School closed, I was placed at Wilson School as a third grade teacher, where I stayed for 7 years. My next adventure led me to becoming a Title I Reading teacher at Niedringhaus School. My colleagues Missy Sholl and Lisa Smith encouraged me to always keep learning new tricks of the trade which eventually led me to achieve National Board certification in 2012 in English Language Arts-Early Childhood to middle school.
When Niedringhaus closed (are you sensing a theme here?) I was moved to Prather to join their Title team. I stayed there for 2 years, then facing cuts to the Title staff; I bid on a Title opening that would allow me to finish my career at Mitchell School, where two of my former student teachers where on staff , and that also allowed me to work with Missy Sholl again for my final year.
My favorite memories are always the people I have known. Teachers who made me feel welcome and helped mentor me; my administrators, especially Helen Schmisseur, my first principal, who tore up my letter of resignation, during the first week of my second year of teaching, she told me not to listen, when those first grade teachers complained about my former students…and always, always my students. They are what kept me in this career.
Plans for the future-Do some traveling, spend more time with my husband, children and nine grandkids. Volunteer at their schools, work as their band booster, and for the first time in many years, be able to ask myself,” What do I want to do today?”
Message for my fellow union members-DO NOT CONTINUE THIS TREND OF GIVING THINGS BACK WITH NO FIGHT! BEING IN A UNION MEANS YOU MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON WHAT IS BEST FOR ALL THE MEMBERS, NOT JUST YOU! I walked the picket line, had food, and insults hurled at me. We did it for our future and YOUR future. You will not get back, what you easily give up. Talk to one another; try to understand what your decisions will mean to new teachers, retiring teachers, high school teachers, and elementary teachers. We are all in this together! Show up at the Labor Day parade in September, be proud of your union and show this pride to our community.
I would like to thank my union for protecting me, and for winning many benefits in the past, I am now seeing wither away: an exceptional salary, for many years insurance that was amazing and paid by the District, reimbursement for my further education, great opportunities to travel to conferences to further my knowledge. Guard what you have left-fight for it.
Deborah Germann – Deb starting her teaching career at Chester High School (81-86), then taught at Red Bud (‘87-’93), and is finishing her teaching career at GCHS in the P.E. department. She has enjoyed teaching and coaching at GC High School.
Message to Staff – Continue to educate yourself, work hard and remember we are here to teach and mold our students to become successful adults.
Plans for retirement – Staying very active, continuing to serve as a Board Member on Millstadt Optimist, Millstadt Chamber of Commerce, and volunteer for the Food Pantry.
Phyllis Hensley – Phyllis graduated from EIU with BS in EL/SPED in 1976. She subbed in GCSD #9 for 9 years and then worked at Coordinated Youth and Human Services from 1977to 1978. At this point in her life, she chose to stay home to raise her children until they were both in school full time. From 1988-1992, she again subbed in GCSD #9 before working at Coordinated Youth and Human Services from 1992-1998. In 1998 she took a SpEd Cross Cat. position in the Madison Community School District until 2006 when she was hired full time in the Granite City School District.
At GCSD# 9, she has work at Prather Elementary Primary TMH, Maryville Elementary Primary LD, Frohardt Elementary Primary LD, and finishing her career at Grigsby Intermediate 6th grade.
Dennis Meyer – I taught 5 ½ years in the Alton School District starting in January of 1981. For my first semester there I was the assistant band director at Alton High School. The other director quit over the summer and I was promoted to head director. In the Spring of 1986, I decided to leave Alton and work in the construction industry. A friend of mine, Joe Owens, was teaching in Granite City at that time and invited me to apply for a new teaching position as Coolidge Band Director and assistant at GCHS. I was hired in November of 1986. Joe Owens moved to teach band at Grigsby in the summer of 1987, so I was promoted to head director and remained in that position until the Spring of 1993. I was able to move to Grigsby and have been here ever since.
My favorite memories are of the performances at marching band competitions where GCHS won, the VP Fair Parade where we took second place, and the first All City Concert right after 9-11 where the band department raised $3000.00 for the schools in New York that were affected by the World Trade Center attack. I also have enjoyed being able to perform advanced literature with 6th, 7th & 8th grade students at Grigsby.
My future plans include developing and expanding my publishing business. I am planning to expand to more states about the Mid-West.
I want to thank the Union for standing strong against the School Board and Administration. Laura Earne said it well during our last strike, “They hold all of the cards except one, our services as teachers.” If we continue to stick together, we can continue to have good salary and benefits. I want to thank the Union officers for the very difficult negotiations you have gone through on our behalf. Dealing with The Board and Administration is very stressful.
Andrew Carnege was the world’s first billionaire. At one time he had 43 millionaires working for him. A reporter got wind of this fact and asked Carnege how he managed to hire 43 millionaires. Carnege responded, “They weren’t millionaires when I hired them.” The reporter then asked, “What did you do to develop these men to make them so valuable that you could pay them enough to become millionaires?” Carnege taught us a great lesson with his response. “You develop people like you mine for gold. You have to move tons of dirt and rocks to get an ounce of gold. But you didn’t go mining looking for the dirt.” This is what we do as teachers. Each child has some gold hidden inside of them. For some kids, it is hidden very deeply. Remember to find the gold in each child and you will have done a great service for that kid, our community and our country.
Diane Peach – I worked at the DMV from 1977-1985. After graduating SIUE in 1986, I was hired by Triad where I taught for two years; I was hired by GCSD in 1990. I taught at both the high school and Coolidge. I have taught English, speech communications, social studies, computer principles, health, language arts, and science.
My favorite memories are many but I especially remember the many shenanigans orchestrated by Tom Turner, Tom Pinnell, Gus Catanzara, and Laura Aerne, among others. The best was the Holiday door-decorating contest where Tom stole Linda Green’s door to keep her from winning again. One memory I hold dear is getting to sit next to my son at graduation and hear his speech from the front row! There are many other memories: a student playing a guitar as his test grade, meeting kids at the public library downtown on a Saturday to work on term papers (and feeling appreciated by them), flying across the stage in A Christmas Carol and hamming it up in Arsenic and Old Lace with fellow teachers. There are many, many other great memories of my teaching career.
My future plans? Travel, travel, travel… I hope to teach English abroad, make it to the Octoberfest in Munich, look up my relatives in Denmark, and find my family’s beginnings in Marx, Germany. I also want to spend time with my grandkids and all of my family.
Message to Union members: Continue to fight for fair contracts. Stick together and hold fast. It’s getting tougher to get what we deserve as teachers because management does not see a united front. Set a goal for yourself next year to make it to 1 more meeting than you did last year, or to bring a co-worker to a union meeting. Don’t become a “free-loader” who lets a select few do all of the work. Take a turn at being a building rep. or be on a committee the next time you are asked. Everyone should do his part.
Thanks to all who have served and those who continue to serve our union. I appreciate all of our benefits. I will continue to help in any way I can.
Diana Prazma – Diana graduated from GCHS-South in 1974. She went on to earn a B.S. in Education from SIUE, majoring in Earth Science and minoring in Biology. From 1984-94, she taught at Holy Family School before taking a teaching position at GCHS where she has taught Earth Science for 22 years. She is a proud member of Delta Kappa Gamma, National Earth Science Teacher’s Association, and Local 743.
When asked about her favorite memories, she states: One of them was “the morning we had an earthquake before school. I had been teaching about the New Madrid fault and how we were overdue for a quake. When school started, I had crowd of students coming into my room. The kids thought I was psychic! It was quite a teachable moment!
Another favorite memory was when I was selected to attend the Space Foundation Teacher Liaison in Colorado Spring. I was able to see the latest in space technology, talk with other teachers from around the country, and meet astronaut Buzz Aldrin. I will never forget that experience and how proud I felt to represent GCHS.”
Future plans include traveling, playing more golf, and continue watching and reporting on the weather
“Thanks to everyone for making this such an enjoyable place to work! I have made so many wonderful friends here. A special thanks to the Science Department…you have been my 2nd family for the last 22 years and I will miss you all!”
Denise Ruebhausen – I began substituting in the fall of 1980, after I graduated from U of I. That in turn led me to being hired in January of 1981 at Mark Twain Elementary, in Alton. I worked about eight/nine years in Alton, being “RIFFed” three times. I taught First grade, Fourth grade, and even Seventh grade when Alton Jr. High changed to a middle school. In 1989 I decided I’d like to teach in the town where I lived and also where my two little ones would be going to school.
I started at Marshall School, until it closed down in 2000, teaching Second and First grade. Then I moved to Neidringhaus, teaching First Grade, until I closed that one down. Now I am at Wilson School, in First grade, and luckily it isn’t closing yet.
I have enjoyed my years teaching and have made many great friends along the way. I will miss them. Thank goodness for Facebook, which I just got on, and Facetime!! I can keep up with the comings and goings of Granite City, since I plan to be headed north to Minnnesota where my daughter, son-in-law and darling 9 month old grandson live. Rochester MN is not too far from the state border but far enough to be unbelievably cold, which I hate! But I plan to be close to my kids/grandchildren. My son is a federal Marshal in Kansas City, and about to be married in April of 2017 so I will spend a lot of time going back and forth between the two.
Barry Schroeder – Barry graduated from SIU-E in 1975 majoring in Geography and History. He also earned his Master’s Degree at SIU-E in 1981 specializing in Special Education. In his 40 years of teaching he has been in many schools throughout the district. They include: Marshall, Emerson, Webster, Parkview, Wilson, Coolidge, and GCHS…YES, some are no longer here. He also taught 3 years in Missouri for the Special School District at Neuwoehner School. While teaching 6th grade at Wilson School, Barry served as head of the safety patrols, ran the Geography Bee, and put in countless hours on recess duty. When he was teaching at Coolidge, he ran the Math-A-Thon for St. Jude Hospital. Barry is very competitive and always wanted to teach students not only in academics but also in sports. He coached “after school activities” at the grade school level for two years , was an assistant coach for the Girls Basketball team at GCHS for two years, coached Track and Field for 12 years at Coolidge, and Girls basketball at Coolidge for ten years. He won the first and only ping pong tournament at GCHS back in 2005. He continues staying involved with his students at GCHS by talking fishing, listening to the latest drama going on in their life, or playing ping pong with them in gym class when he has time.
The things Barry will remember the most about his career are all the good kids he has met and the friends he has made in all the schools he has taught at , throughout his 40 years.
After retirement, Barry plans on doing a lot of fishing with his son, brothers, and friends. A trip to Canada is planned for June. He also plans on visiting his daughter and son- in-law in Idaho soon. You can find him on Monday’s at his mother’s house having dinner with her and catching up on family matters. On Tuesday nights, he’ll be playing Bocce Ball out at the Italian Club all summer and into the fall. If you know him, he’ll be watching the Blues and Cardinals whenever they’re on T.V. too. On the weekends he enjoys playing pool or throwing horseshoes. Whenever fall rolls back around, he’ll have the” boys” back over at his house on Wednesday’s to play ping pong all night.
The students at GCHS are so lucky to have such a great group of people to help them through their four years here. To the teachers and staff, I’d like to say, “You’re the best! and Thank you for a great ride!, but I think I’ll get off now. Good bye and God bless.”
Mary Jo Seibold – Mary Jo was first hired by GCSD#9 in 1978 where she taught until being laid off after the 1981-’82 school year. She returned to the district in 1991 and has taught foods and other home economic courses at the high school ever since. She will be retiring with 32 years of service which includes the many years of subbing she did.
She has enjoyed watching students get excited when a product turns out, having both her son and daughter as students in her FACS classes at Coolidge, and the wonderful friendships she has made over the years.
Her future plans include spending time with family and traveling.
To her colleagues and union she is leaving behind, she says, “STAY STRONG!”
Mary Voss – I have had a wonderful teaching experience in Granite City. I feel very fortunate to have been able to teach where I live. I started subbing in September of 1977. In January 1978, I was hired to replace a teacher going on maternity leave at McKinley School. I had thirty-five extremely low first graders. I had to teach using the “Open Court System.” The other first grade had fourteen extremely high students using a reading series. Luckily, I had to teach “Open Court” during my student teaching. I had a very good experience.
In 1978 – 1979, I was moved to Webster where I taught an extremely high second grade class. I think they felt sorry for me after my first grade class at McKinley.
During 1979 – 1980, I did a long term at Mitchell. Then, I did a long term at Johnson School (the open school) where I taught fourth grade. What a great experience! I was between Judy Russell and Loretta Woolbright. Phil Smith and Al Mueller taught on the other side of the chalkboard. When Mr. Mueller would want to make a point with the students, he would pound on the chalkboard. I always had to tilt the board to remind him that I was on the other side. Mr. Brinkhoff was the principal. I can’t begin to find the words for the staff. We had a great time. It is too bad that school closed. Visitors were always amazed at the well behaved students.
In 1980 -1981, I was Betty Doyle’s Resource assistant at Logan where I taught resource students in a five by ten room off the gym.
1981- 1982 I taught a split fifth/sixth grade language arts class at Logan in the morning. In the afternoon, I went to Wilson to teach a low second grade class. Then…..I was laid off. Several of us received the wonderful pink slip that year.
1982 – 1983 Too many were subbing. I decided to work at First Granite City National Bank. I started in the New Accounts Department, and eventually, became the New Accounts Department Officer. This is when they closed five elementary schools, two junior highs, and North High School. I thought I would never be fortunate to return to teaching.
In 1990, many of my friends had returned to teaching and began helping them in their classrooms, and realized how much I missed being in the classroom. So I decided to return to teaching.
In 1991 – 1992, I did a long term in third grade at Wilson School. It was great to be back in the classroom. 1992 – I was hired and chose to teach fourth grade at Prather. Nobody could understand why I would want to go back to Prather. I loved Prather when I was there in 1982, and wanted to return. At the time, most of the staff was from Washington School and Johnson School. We had some great times. I know that we all feel that our staff is family. I don’t think I have worked with a staff as close as they were. I think Prather has always been the best kept secret in the district. Many people are not happy to be moved there, but most people never want to leave. It is just a different world over there.
2006 – I moved to Niedringhaus. A very close friend talked me into moving there! What a great school with character! Then, it closed in 2013 when I moved to Worthen. The staff welcomed me to the Worthen Family…if they only knew how true that was. My mother’s maiden name was Worthen. Worthen Park is named after my grandfather! So it seemed appropriate that I should retire from Worthen School.
I have so many wonderful memories as an educator. I loved when I was working with a student that didn’t understand the lesson, and you keep working, and working, and working….then, the light bulb goes on!!
Another favorite is when I was teaching my teeth unit. I have several false teeth and dental items. We were passing the teeth around. I looked around and one little girl was trying to put the false teeth in her mouth. She had lost two teeth, and she wanted to have teeth!! Some of the other students wouldn’t even touch the teeth. The look on their face was priceless!
Another moment, a little boy told me how beautiful I was and that he wanted to marry me. I told him he needed glasses. The next day he came in with his mom’s glasses. I asked him why he had glasses. He said, “Well, the better to see you, and you said that I needed glasses. He said that I was still beautiful and the glasses made me closer and more beautiful. You never know what a little kid will say when you start a conversation with them.
I also have had many fond memories with my colleagues. Anyone that knows me knows that I like to have a good time. We had Prather cart races down the hall. We played a lot of jokes on Jim Parker and Norbert Tate!!! (Silly Boys) At Niedringhaus, a family had donated two knights in memory of their son, and nobody knew where the knights were going to appear. When we heard a scream, we knew someone had been knighted!
I have worked with great colleagues, and I have so many wonderful memories. I can’t say enough about our staff. Each time I was moved to a school, every staff was very welcoming and very dedicated to the students. I have had great times at every building.
Plans for the future – I will probably find some kind of job part-time. I am very concerned about spending days at home. I am going to volunteer at the schools and travel a little, just take each day as it comes.
Message to fellow union members – First, to everyone who has been an officer, thank you for all you do for the union. I know that it is not an easy job.
To everyone not retiring, teaching has changed so much since I started in 1977. Some changes have been good, some not so good. Whatever changes may be happening, just love what you do in your classroom. Remember, that there are some changes that you have no control over, so don’t make yourself sick. It will change again in five years. Always make your students your first priority and let them know that you love having them in your class. They will love you back, especially the elementary students.
Enjoy your summer. Best wishes for a successful 2016-2017 school year. It takes a special person to be a teacher. Be that special person for each and every student whose path your cross.