HOISINGTON — Touching the lives and improving the minds of over a 1,000 children after three decades of service, USD 431 teachers Darla Clark and Becky Andereck will close the last book bags of their careers this month. Both began and ended their service in Hoisington.
“Becky and Darla have been very dedicated and helped a lot of students throughout the years,” said Bill Lowry, superintendent of USD 431. “Their impact on their student’s lives has been so tremendous. It can’t all be measured yet.”
“Both have done a really good job for the district,” said Alan Charles, principal of Roosevelt Elementary. “They’ll be missed. It’ll be a change.”
“I’ve been teaching 32 years,” said first grade teacher Darla Clark. “I’ve been in this room for 25 years.”
The best part about teaching for Clark has been enjoying the kids and that “aha” moment when they get something and their little face lights up.
“Every morning and every evening, I give them a hug,” said Clark. “I will miss that.”
Giving the kids a choice of a hug or a high five, was something that Clark heard at a conference years ago and implemented into her classroom. “It gives them a good start to the morning. It gives them a fresh start.”
Darla grew up on a farm near Great Bend and went to school at Pawnee Rock. She finished junior high and high school at Great Bend.
Her first teach job out of college was at Hoisington.
She talked about the changes that have occurred in education since 1981. “The volume and subject has grown so large it is just unbelievable,” said the teacher.
“We are teaching nouns, verbs and adjectives in first grade,” Clark said. The students also do a lot of problem solving using examples so they can see it in front of them, manipulate it and learn to see the pictures in their brain.
“We get really attached to kids,” Darla said. “We always want what is best for the child. We invest a lot of time and energy. We want them to be successful, and we have to give them a foundation.”
“I love to have fun with them, tell jokes and have a good time, and we learn from each other,” she said.
Her extended family and her husband’s extended family live in the Great Bend area and Clark wants to continue spending time with them. She has two children, Jenna, who works as a secretary and is taking online classes to finish her degree, and Kyle who works at ITT Tech in Lansing.
“I want to travel,” said Clark. “I’m anxious to see what comes along.”
Clark decided this was the year to retire because of some health issues. She plans to have knee surgery and then get her house under control with all of those projects that she has not had time to do.
Plus, she has begun selling Genesis Health IBO and build up her business. She likes to walk, loves to read and decorate.
She will continue serving others with volunteer work. She sings, plays in the bell choir and is cantor at her church. “Being a teacher is a way to serve,” said Clark. “Teachers do so many things behind the scenes.”
Becky Andereck begins this new chapter in her life after 36 years at USD 431. Her husband Dean is also retired.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “It’s just time. I’ve taught kids and their kids.”
The teacher talked about the gamut of educational theories that have come and gone. However, what was most important to Andereck was to make sure the kids could read. “Reading is the core of all things that needs to be taught,” she said. “I will miss the kids and staff. I won’t miss paperwork and objectives.”
“First grade is my favorite,” she said. “They don’t stay mad at you. They are so sweet and they think you are so smart.”
She talked about the tremendous changes in the expectations of the children. What she originally taught in third grade, she is now teaching first.
Becky started teaching third grade in the room she is currently is teaching in. She spent four or five years in another room, and then moved back to finish her career. She plans to leave most of her teaching materials for the new teacher.
Andereck was known to be strict but fair. She was nominated for the teacher of the year for Hoisington and also got a 25 year teaching certificate from the University of Kansas.
With retirement, she wants to travel to the western U.S., garden flower and vegetables, read mysteries, education material about autism and relax. She has been the technology coordinator for Roosevelt and she hopes to keep up on the iPad initiative and the apps. Most importantly, Becky plans to go to KU basketball games.
She grew up in Chase and went to Southwestern College in Winfield.
She has a stepson Shane, a son, Zachary and a daughter Krista. They have two grandchildren, Jadynn and Kasey.
“We’re fortunate to have had both of them teach for the district,” said Charles. “Both of them have been involved with kids in USD 431 for a long time. It will be a big transition for our building and staff.”
The district will hold a retirement reception for both educators from 4-6 p.m. on May 14 at the Hoisington Activity Center, 1200 Susank Rd. There will be a presentation at 5:30 p.m.