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Tuesday July 8, 2014 Edition
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Sharing Memories Of Teaching & Helping Children Shine With Daryl Hatch & Rita Smith

Daryl Hatch and Rita Smith are passionate about children, education and between the two have over 60 years of memories from the classroom to share!
photo provided
Daryl Hatch and Rita Smith are passionate about children, education and between the two have over 60 years of memories from the classroom to share!
Learning takes place not only in the classroom but in the community as well. Daryl Hatch and her students were often out and about learning and growing together.
photo provided
Learning takes place not only in the classroom but in the community as well. Daryl Hatch and her students were often out and about learning and growing together.

Tuesday July 8, 2014

By Cookie Steponaitis

Rita Smith and Daryl Hatch have an awful lot in common. They share careers in education in the same school district that span a total of fifty-three years. They share a passion for children that continues to this day through their community work and volunteerism. And, most importantly they share a family and are proud grandmothers of teens spanning senior year to elementary school. It is impossible to separate Rita and Daryl from their family, their love of children and their belief in the power of education.
    Rita Smith grew up in Barre and like many young children dreamed of one day being an archaeologist and traveling the world looking for bones and clues from the past. “Well, let’s just say,” expressed Rita, “that in my day girls’ didn’t do those things. It was not ok.” Given the traditional career choices for women of nursing or teaching, Rita went off to Johnson State College and found not only a career but a passion that has not dimmed over time. Rita entered the classroom in 1963 and credits Dr. Doris Spencer, a faculty member at Johnson State College for being important in providing her with tools to be a teacher. “We spent a great deal of time on methods of how to teach,” reminisced Rita. “My first year in Colchester schools I had thirty one first graders in my classroom and not one of them had been to kindergarten.”
Rita has a career that spanned thirty-four years in the classroom and taught first, second and third graders to not only read, write, add and much more but to play, dream and explore. While sharing memories of students not only taking pride and pains with their writing and assignments Rita stressed that even to this day while the tools of how teachers operate have changed, what defines a teacher has not. “A teacher is someone who can find the best in each child and help them grow into it,” shared Rita. She volunteers at the Ferrisburgh Central School as a writing tutor for grades five and six and sees the same needs in the older children that were a part of daily life with her younger charges for so many years. “Children keep coming,” expressed Rita. “They look up to you for support and also for the recognition that they need to be children and be able to play.”
Sitting at the table and also sharing memories was Daryl Hatch who has a twenty-five year career in ANWSU but at the older end of the spectrum. “I was hired right out of college by Bob Twiss and was put into 10th grade English,” commented Daryl. “I left to raise my children and returned to the Middle School when my youngest entered high school. I told her it was to spy on her.” Daryl, like Rita came to education as a career because teaching was a field open to women and offered a respectable living. Hatch had many good teachers but credits her interest in two who inspired her. “My fifth grade teacher at Vergennes Elementary was Cora Rock,” explained Daryl. “She was a no-nonsense woman who believed in me as a student. She had me tutor other students and gave me the confidence in my ability to learn and solidify my learning by teaching another. I was so indebted to her that I invited her to my college graduation. My other teacher who inspired me was one of my high school English teachers- Mr. Armand Crevier. He made every class an event. He brought literature to life by acting out scenes and jumping onto his desk, gasping Caesar’s last breath in a death throe and illustrating eternity by drawing a chalk line around the room and then throwing the chalk out the window. He taught me that a teacher has to be a bit of an entertainer to make the subject matter interesting.”
Both educators’ careers spanned key changes in educational philosophy and the role of the school and teacher in bringing up the next generation. Daryl Hatch felt fortunate to have been a part of the Middle School philosophy which recognized that the middle years of adolescence were pivotal in a student’s school life. She studied under Chris Stephenson and John Arnold, who were leaders in the middle school movement. Rita Smith saw changes in the teaching of reading, the structure of early learning and stopped to share her thoughts on the realities of how being a child has changed as drastically as the schooling process. “Children today don’t play much in school,” reflected Rita Smith. “The learning expectations are so much greater in the early grades including homework and I worry about expecting all children to learn at the same rate and with timed materials. Children at that age have their own learning styles and their own special strengths.”
    How about, Both women have a strong faith in the youth of today and in their skills as life long learners. They also feel that students today have a grasp of technology and how to use it to be informed and improve their lives. Both teachers also state that the common denominator of their longevity in the classroom was that every day they laughed with their students and found the positive in each child and allowing all of them to shine. “I really have to chuckle,” shared Daryl Hatch. “One memory that stands out for me was when my middle school students were doing speeches. Jennifer Dubois and Martha Sullivan were doing their speech on make-up and hair. They sat classmate Chris Altemose down as their model and he sat there patiently while they did an elaborate hair do, applied make up and he simply sat there smiling the whole time.”
Whether it was reminiscing about the special learning moments with students or the myriad of learning opportunities for themselves as teachers including meeting Sally Ride and Christa McAuliffe’s family, both women would not trade it for the world. They had virtually the same advice for young teachers entering the field, “If you don’t love being with your students, if you are looking for tangible rewards, if you want to work from 8-4 with summers off, find another profession,” cautioned Daryl Hatch. Rita Smith concurred and added, “Remember to see the positive in each child. They all have their own special strengths and everyone can shine.”
Three generations of Addison County students have benefited from the love, talents and time of these two women who are bound by so much more than the title teacher. They share a passion for schools and children and continue in their retirement to be catalysts for children finding pride and a sense of self in their accomplishments and futures. The Valley Voice salutes Rita Smith, Daryl Hatch and all those who help teach the next generation to shine!

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