Longtime Colton Elementary School teachers Julie Rediske and Gwen Lewis are retiring. They have a combined 55 years of educating students with Rediske teaching for 30 years, most of those years in kindergarten and Lewis for 25 years with many of those years in the third and fourth grade classes. Both teachers are well respected by their peers and students for their abilities in the classrooms and for helping CES maintain its high educational standards
Lewis said what she is going to miss most is watching students grow up. "It is a privileged to work with kids during their formative years. It gives us, as teachers, a true sense of purpose. It was the best career choice. It is a place to make a difference, touch lives and have the joy of watching the kids grow into adults. I got to watch them from 10 years of age to graduation; as they grew into productive citizens, loving and caring. Teaching is a lot of work, but worth it!"
"My heart is so full," Rediske said. "To do the work I did brought joy and love to my life. It was a celebration of witness and real life miracles."
Both teachers talked about watching students' progress in class, learning to read in kindergarten, learning advanced math skills in fourth grade. They both touched on the difficult times with children who might not have the best support system and how teaching them the power of choice and about integrity. They touched on the importance of being there especially for those children, to listen and to let them know they cared about them.
"I would tell them you have work to do," Lewis said, "and I will always help."
These were the students both teachers said who would stop by before or after school to give them a hug or talk about their weekends or whatever mattered at that time in their lives and these were some of the most fulfilling moments.
Rediske and Lewis agreed that keeping expectations high in the classroom, letting students know what was expected day to day and helping them learn to learn paid off. They said at the end of the year, after academic testing was complete, the "They've got it" moment was all the reward they needed.
In the words of some former students:
"Mrs. Lewis is my all-time favorite teacher. She helped shape my life in so many ways and she was always there for me when I needed her. She was one of the teachers that pushed me to do the best I could in life". -Laina
Isabella wrote a poem:
Mrs. R, we will miss
Because she did all of this:
She made me happy every morning,
She made it so I was always smiling.
After me she had my brother and cousin
Any my sister before
She did great with all four!
And she added: "Thank you so much for not only teaching me but also becoming my friend. Colton Elementary will truly miss you!"
Her brother, Tavon, wanted to tell Mrs. Rediske, "You are the best teacher and I will miss you so much, I wish you could stay, but I know you can't, so before you leave, I want to say thank you so much for everything."
Addie wrote: "Both teachers were amazing and fun. They both were the best teachers I had. I really enjoyed riding bikes in Mrs. Lewis's class and all of the field trips we went on in her class, especially to Port Blakely. I learned so much from her this year!"
"I had Mrs. Lewis for third and fourth grade," Hailee said, "She was my favorite teacher throughout elementary school. I hope she enjoys her retirement, but Colton kids are sure going to miss out on the best teacher!"
So, what are these "awesome teachers" going to do next?
Lewis said, "Travel for sure! See my kids and grandchildren more! Family oriented activities...read the stack of books waiting for me, and do projects that have been left undone!"
And for Rediske, "Future plans include travel with my husband, Mark, and using my creative energy in the community of Silverton (where the Rediske's live). I have some ideas about literacy and working with young mothers in my neighborhood. Colton will always be a special place to me, but I am so excited to become more home-based in Silverton now."