Greenwood teacher retires after 53 years
Southsider Voice correspondent
In Gordon Goss’ fifth-grade classroom, students excitedly participated in adventurous activities that served as amazing learning opportunities.
At least once in his 53-year career as a fifth-grade teacher at Northeast Elementary in Greenwood, Goss and his beloved students roasted a November turkey on the playground. The following day they shared a feast with student families.
While studying about Williamsburg, kids crafted brooms and candles. They also painted murals depicting different aspects of American history.
For the classroom’s spring tea party, they created centerpieces for beautifully decorated tables, learned proper etiquette and dressed up for the annual event, which included an in-depth history lesson about the Boston Tea Party.
“When they are challenged they are absolutely thrilled with themselves,” Goss said. “Children need that. If we expect it from them, they will produce their best.”
Time and time again, Goss witnessed a direct connection between students participating in creative classroom experiences in social studies, math, language arts and other subjects and successfully retaining that information.
“When I taught school it was like creating a family,” he said. “I always told the kids that we were a family and we all had to work together.”
At only 5 years of age, Goss knew exactly what he loved. “I had two major wants, teaching and flowers design,” he said from his Greenwood home.
As a child he plucked flowers from the neighbors’ yards and made corsages for his mother.
“She told me she wore them after I went to bed,” he said with a laugh.
Goss not only became a teacher, he married one.
Luckily, his wife, Patty Goss, also shared the same passion for floral design.
Together, they juggled demanding teaching careers with ownership of a florist, Flowers Unlimited. The dedicated professionals also found time to parent two sons, G. Michael Goss II of Center Grove and Patrick Goss of New York City.
But that doesn’t at all mean that so many responsibilities weren’t difficult and demanding.
“I worked 18-hour days for at least 15 years,” Goss said.
More often than not, Goss stayed after school to help students study or practice for something special, like a math or spelling bowl.
After 5 p.m. he then made his way to the florist. Sometimes he or Patty had bookkeeping or inventory to do there.
Goss also worked many weekends, delivering and displaying flowers for weddings, special anniversary parties and other events.
No matter how demanding his life was, as a parent and a business owner, Goss never allowed his classroom to be anything except exceptional.
However, this year, Goss decided to retire from teaching.
Too many parts of his career have changed.
He no longer feels that he can teach from his heart and reach all kinds of kids at their individual levels with the teaching style he used for three generations.
“My life has been built on teaching,” Goss said. “Of all the things I have done in my life, teaching is something I never wanted to give up.”
But things change.
Along with her husband, Patty Goss also retired. And they sold the flower shop.
As Goss proudly displays a couple of beautiful needlepoint pillows, he lists a few other interests, such as reading great books, that he can pursue during this new life chapter.
“We have time now,” he said of himself and his wife. “I have never had that in my life.”