Q and A: After 19 years, time to move onFarmington Elementary School first grade teacher Cathy Pinter isn’t necessarily counting the days until the school year ends, but she’s got lots of plans for the days after June 8.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Farmington Elementary School first grade teacher Cathy Pinter isn’t necessarily counting the days until the school year ends, but she’s got lots of plans for the days after June 8.
Pinter is retiring after 19 years at FES. She earned her elementary education degree from The Ohio State University, then went on to get her masters in special education from Mankato State University.
She started her career as a sixth grade teacher in a private school, but then took time off to raise her small children. When she came back to teaching, it was at FES. She’s taught first graders ever since.
Why did you become a teacher?
I love children, and I love the challenge of helping them. I just love teaching. I love being creative and trying new things and helping students find different ways to learn.
Did you ever think about going anywhere else or doing anything else?
While I was staying home with my kids. I came back to teaching when my youngest child was in first grade, and I subbed in the district. That’s when I got a class from assignment. Prior to that, I thought about going back to school for law and becoming an attorney. That didn’t work out because of my husband’s career and where I was in my life, so I have no regrets.
Overall, with technology evolving in a lot of ways, has that kind of changed the way you do your teaching?
Oh, it’s been such a positive impact. A lot of people resist all that, but I feel I’ve grown as a teacher. It’s helped me stay connected to the kids. We just got the SMART Boards this year, and I’m so glad I could retire having had that experience with those SMART Boards because I feel it’s so wonderful for the kids with the reading and all of the interactive things it offers. Math and everything. It’s been such a positive thing. And had I retired last year – which was a thought – I would have never known about how wonderful this techonology could be. I use it a lot.… We teach technology now. We have to teach our own technology for lab, and I feel that’s been wonderful for my first graders and for myself to kind of be involved with the technology.
My only regret is that I’m not going to have the iPad. I have my own personal iPad, but I do think these iPads will be a new concept for students to be in touch with what they’re learning. They’re just going to stay connected with all different aspects of learning because of them.
What about the kids themselves? Have they kind of changed over the years?
They have. They have changed. They’re definitely more engaged because of the things that have come to them with all of this different reading and the technology and the balanced literacy program. I feel that the students have become more proactive in their reading because they’re reading at their level, and I think that has been fabulous. Everybody is improving at all times because they’re not stifled. Our math has really become more engaging because there’s more levels for math….
Behavior? Let’s not go there.
First graders will always be first graders. Is that what you’re saying?
Yes, first graders will always be first graders. And first graders? Their eyes are always wide open, ready to take on whatever new adventure comes their way every day. They love it. If you try anything with them, you have their attention. They’re just ready to be involved.
What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching?
When the light bulb goes off and they understand the concept of why they’re reading. What that new adventure out there is that’s called reading. It’s amazing. At the beginning of the year, I have some readers. But you know, I have 25 students and maybe I have three readers that understand the words to sentences to paragraphs. But now, I have 25 readers and it’s fabulous.
Why did you decide to retire?
It was time. My husband retired in November, and it was time for me to start a new adventure in my life.
Do you think you’ll miss teaching?
I will miss my students, but I think I’ll always be involved some way in education. I will miss the students, and I will miss my teaching. But I will miss the staff, too. We have a fabulous staff here at FES. They have been my family for 19 years so I will miss them and the camaraderie. And the support. We have unbelievable support here.
If you could do it all over again, would you still be a teacher?
Oh, absolutely. I started off as a sixth grade teacher in a private school, and I would have never seen myself as a first grade teacher. But I loved it. I love the first graders. I love my team. They were so supportive of me…. It was a new adventure because things had changed from the time I finished college to getting back into education, so this team was wonderful with sharing their ideas and helping me become a stronger teacher.