Retiring instructors reflect on teaching at USD 408
The first words out of teacher JoAnn Good’s mouth when speaking about retirement were, “I know I’ll miss it, but I have such great kids and I can end my career on a positive note.”
Good, a foreign language teacher, and math teacher Don Molleker will retire at the end of the school year.
Good has been at Marion 43 years. She taught at Hillsboro for five years and has taught elementary through college-age students in French, Spanish, and German. She has spent the past nine years as a part-time Spanish teacher.
Good said when she began teaching in Marion in 1980, she had eight class preparations for each day and taught 250 to 300 students.
There was very little written instruction at the time, she said, so she developed her own curriculum. Her duties included teaching Spanish to third through sixth graders. She moved from room to room with materials on a cart.
“Sometimes I had 10 minutes to eat lunch while traveling between two schools,” she said.
The first 25 years her full-time job felt tentative, she said. She had been cut from her job at Hillsboro when the district was planning a building project.
“I took that kind of hard,” she said, “but I was invited back later to teach part-time. Now I think they regard foreign language as more important.”
Good said she decided to train as a foreign language teacher after spending her senior year in high school as an exchange student in Germany. She majored in German and minored in Spanish and later added French.
The first year she does not use a textbook.
Her first-year students do not have a textbook. She uses creative teaching methods such as having the class sing songs or write and perform plays in the foreign language they are studying.
“I’ve really tried to give the students an open mind, maybe a desire to travel, and an interest in language. I like hearing about students who have gone on to use the foreign language in some way. You have to use something a long time before it becomes a part of you.”
One thing Good said she wouldn’t miss is taking papers home to grade in the evening.
She and her husband, Bob, hope to travel more. She wants to go to India and go on a safari in Africa.
She also plans to spend more time with her family of two sons and three grandchildren. Oliver and his wife, Marina, and their two daughters and one son live in Marion, and Ethan lives in Texas.
Good looks back on her career with satisfaction.
“I always loved school as a child and thought I would become a teacher,” she said. “I enjoyed learning and helping students learn. There’s a lot of creativity and different ways of dealing with the material.”
The chance to live between two lakes and go fishing was what drew Don Molleker to Marion 33 years ago.
He taught computer classes at first, along with math and physics. His subjects have expanded in recent years to include robotics and engineering. He has taught special education students to advanced students.
“I got my first robotics kit two weeks before school started four years ago, and I had to hit the ground running,” he said.
He said he and his students learned together. A 3D machine now helps them.
He designed his own house, and his mechanical drawing class in 1997-98 built it as a class project.
He helped students create things, such as T-shirt launchers for sports events.
He is proud that one of his first students became a doctor, and four of his advanced physics male students became engineers. Four girls also work in engineering.
Molleker and his wife, Robyn, have four children. Adam is a Kansas State University graduate with degrees in physics and mechanical engineering. Aaron will graduate from K-State next fall in mechanical engineering. Austin just graduated from Marion High School, and Allison is a sophomore.
Molleker said friends have a list of things for him to do after he retires. He said he paid his way through a private high school by working for farmers, so he figures to do some of that. He also can do electrical and plumbing jobs. He will be available to substitute teach when the next school year comes around.
As for fishing?
“I’m going to fit it in in the evenings from now on. It sure beats doing homework,” he said.
“I would like to teach some more, but it’s time to give it up and let some young guy come in and make some money.”