This year the Hiawatha/Howe Community Schools will be saying good-bye to educators with 84 years of combined experience. Three teachers, Kelley McMurchie (kindergarten), Jill Waters (second grade), and Susan Stewart (third grade) are retiring and passing on the baton to new educators for the community.
Kelley McMurchie has taught kindergarten at Hiawatha Community School for 14 years, She has been a classroom teacher for 23 years. She writes, “I will miss the students, families, colleagues, and the neighborhood. I will also miss the Kinder Garden outside Room 117. In the spring, kindergarteners plant tomatoes, peppers and beans. The next fall the new kindergarten classes get to eat what the garden produced. We always saved bean seeds and used them to plant the next crop. Many times, there were extra veggies so the first graders got to have a little nibble of what they planted, too.”
She plans to move to the Smokey Mountains and enjoy time with her children and grandchildren in her retirement. Her words of wisdom for us are, “This year has shown how resilient and capable people are, especially children. They are amazing. Children can fail and make mistakes, then use their own resiliency to be better and stronger the next time. Harder times and tough days show silver linings we may not have expected. Keep an eye out for those silver linings.”
Susan Stewart has been a teacher at Howe Community school for the past four years where she has taught third through fifth grade. She has taught 22 years in Minneapolis Public Schools after moving to Minneapolis, teaching for four years in Pittsburg before that, for a total of 26 years.
She writes: “I've enjoyed working with Howe's children and families. I've many funny memories from the plays that my Lyndale third graders did at The Children's Theater. Once, we made a giant red cardboard stomach to show that Chronos had swallowed his children. The students, as they were swallowed, poked their heads though the cut-outs. A quiet boy assigned to hold the thing up surprised us by adding a hole for the stone that is swallowed instead of Zeus, but not before juggling it expertly to the delight of the audience.“
Susan will miss the innate wisdom and fairness of children, and plans to spend her retirement with her parents, traveling, and exploring Cook County.
Jill Waters has taught second grade for 35 years at Hiawatha Community School.
She writes “I feel like I grew up here. I love this community. It was a privilege to celebrate Hiawatha’s 100th year. People came from all over the country to share their memories of the education they received. My favorite day was May Day when the children would make May baskets and we would then deliver them to our neighbors. Hiawatha is full of traditions and my favorites are the ones where we brought in the community, Move A Thon, gingerbread houses our school dance and carnival. I am looking forward to the many more adventures life has ahead.”
Jill shares this poem for all of her second graders:
I Remember Second Grade
I remember tie dying.
I remember the Monarch Butterflies.
I remember Pumpkin Jack.
I remember Dorothy Molter Root Beer.
I remember celebrating the 50th Day.
I remember gingerbread houses.
I remember Hiawatha’s awesome playground.
I remember the Egg Drop.
I remember Camp Skeeter.
I remember friendships made.
I remember my teacher believed in me!