This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. For me, just reading those three words brings back so many wonderful memories. I’ve been bouncing down this road for a few weeks now. The loss of one of my 6th grade teachers at Edgewood Grade School snapped my memory into high gear.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, William (Bill) Pickard was one of my 6th grade teachers. He taught and supervised in Perry Township Schools for many years. Edgewood Grade School was filled with wonderful teachers and staff. We are all sad about the death of Pickard.
After Edgewood, I attended junior high and high school at Southport. I met classmates from the other elementary schools, and we all connected very quickly. We also were fortunate to have exceptional teachers at both schools.
Our junior high principal was Hugh Thompson. His daughter, Sue Thompson, was in our class. She and her husband, Andy Zajac, are both retired teachers, with 25 of those years teaching in Alaska.
I have fond memories of classes with William Webb (auto shop) Everett Swank (math) Gloria Hilfiker (homeroom) Bill Fredenberger (physical education) and so many others. These are just a few of the teachers that had to deal with me in those years.Hilfiker was a typing teacher. I was in her homeroom, and it was also the typing room. I didn’t ever take typing and was not allowed to touch a typewriter during homeroom.
For a few years, my family had a small school bus fleet that we contracted in Perry Township. I then had the opportunity to work with former teachers, coaches and staff members. It was very interesting to kindle a very different relationship. I felt very honored.
Many years later, I took a part-time position as a school bus driver for Beech Grove City Schools. I was once again very impressed as I met staff at the different schools. I drove there for about 10 years, and I now have so many friends that are still teachers and staff or have, like me, retired.
I’m still connected with so many teachers and staff from Beech Grove City Schools. Through Facebook, I’m also connected with many of my former school bus riders. I’m even considering putting together a “Bus #5 Ursula” reunion. I think that would be a blast.
I’m getting ready to call my sister, Kathy, later this evening. She is a retired teacher. She and her husband, Paul, live in Austin, Texas. She graduated from Indiana University and taught in St. Louis for a few years then moved to Texas and taught until she retired.
Many of my high school classmates became teachers and counselors. It is so special when our class gets together, and I sometimes get to share stories with former teachers and staff members. My good friend, Sharon Darko-David taught and was a counselor at Decatur Township Schools. We are both members of the Perry Township / Southport Historical Society.
I’m quickly trying to put together a plan that will honor lots of the school staff members. I challenge you to consider doing something to honor and thank one or more of your past teachers or even one of your children’s or grandchildren’s present teachers.
I’m working on my plan and if I’m successful, I will report about it in a future article.
Remember this is Teacher Appreciation Week!!
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools. He can be reached through email at email@example.com.