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MOUNT BLANCHARD — Kathy Thompson and Kim Passet have known each other most of their lives.
They attended Riverdale High School together. When Thompson needed a substitute while she was on maternity leave, Passet filled in for her in the classroom. The women are residents of the district and agreed Riverdale will always be a part of their lives.
But when school begins next fall, the two veteran teachers will be at home beginning their retirement years. Passet has worked as a Riverdale teacher for 30 year and Thompson has put in 35 years in the district.
“We’re like a family here,” said Thompson of the students and staff at the school.
“My husband says I’m married to the school,” said Passet. “But I have always wanted to do the best job I could do. We are Riverdale.”
From an early age, said the women, they each knew they wanted to become teachers. Both were influenced by their elementary teachers and each played school when they were at home. And for many years, they said, teaching was fun and rewarding, but that has changed with the recent shifts in education.
“I really enjoyed teaching until all the testing,” said Passet. “The tests just zap all the fun out of it. It’s all about the tests now.”
“It’s getting out of hand,” agreed Thompson.
The tests have taken all the creativity out of preparing lessons for their classes, said the veteran educators. Even at a kindergarten level, said Thompson, her students are tested constantly at the age of five.
With all the added responsibility of education today, they agreed, there is little time left for instructions.
“They keep adding more and more and never taking anything away,” said Passet, who teaches fifth grade. “I wish someone from the state would come to our classrooms and see these are just kids. Then the icing on the cake is teachers’ pay is to be based on their evaluations and the outcome of the test.”
“The kids get tired of testing,” said Thompson.
“And so do we,” agreed Passet.
Passet was a teacher in Forest and Thompson worked at the Mount Blanchard building when the new campus was built and all the teachers and students were moved to one location. The change was a huge improvement to the district, the pair agreed.
“This is heavenly,” said Passet of the new building.
“We appreciate the air conditioning and the technology,” said Thompson. “That has made our jobs easier.
Passet is anxiously awaiting the birth of a new grandson in August and can’t wait to begin her new job as baby-sitter. Thompson said she plans to travel and is looking forward to having the time to read books.
“I’m going to read,” she said. “That is something I have missed, but I didn’t have the time.”
At first, said the two teachers, it will seem like a normal summer vacation, but when school starts next fall, they won’t be involved.
“That first day is something I don’t want to think about,” said Passet.
“It will seem strange not worrying all summer about what to plan for next year,” agreed Thompson.
“It’s time for me to let someone else come in,” said Passet. “There is a kid out there waiting for a job.”
“It will be nice not to have the stress and be able to make plans for weekends,” said Thompson. “I look forward to having a normal life.”
“Riverdale is in our hearts,” said Passet, “only we will not be here anymore. It’s going to be hard.”
By DAN ROBINSON
Times staff writer