Retiring teacher a calming influence
Marion Middle School science teacher Bill Darrow spent most of Monday’s science experiences class troubleshooting projects the students were working on.
The students had made miniature “sleds” for a demonstration of Isaac Newton’s third law of motion: that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
The sleds were built to work as slingshots, using a rubber band to fling a weighted canister. With straws underneath the sleds so the could roll, students saw that the sleds moved in the opposite direction of the canister.
Darrow said he enjoys teaching science because such hands-on projects are an integral part of it. Students benefit from and enjoy those projects, and they reduce the amount of lecturing involved in teaching the subject.
“Every day is a challenge to be ready, prepared, and organized,” he said.
Darrow didn’t begin his professional career as a teacher. He received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Kansas State University in Manhattan and worked for an oil company, then as a consultant to oil companies.
When his children were young and involved in school activities, oil drilling in Kansas was tailing off. Darrow was gone from home two weeks every month. He wanted to be home for his children more, so he decided to get into teaching.
Darrow earned his teaching certification at Tabor College in Hillsboro. He began teaching fourth grade and later sixth grade at Marion Elementary School before moving to Marion Middle School.
Darrow is able to put his geology background to use in class, because seventh- and eighth-grade science classes include a lot of earth science, he said.
Marion Middle School Principal Missy Stubenhofer said Darrow is a calming influence in the school, both on students and other staff members.
“He’s one of them that always has a level head,” she said. “He’s able to focus on what’s really important.”
She said Darrow is adept at making personal connections with students, and that students seek him out before and after school when they need someone to talk with.
“I think people open up to him,” Stubenhofer said. “He’s a good listener.”
Darrow will retire at the end of the year. His post-retirement plans include substitute teaching, volunteering, and traveling with his wife to spend time with grandchildren in Atlanta and Lee’s Summit, Mo.
“I hope students come away from my classes having learned that they should be thoughtful and questioning learners and that they would have felt safe, valued, and respected as students,” Darrow said. “Consequently, I would want them to go on in life caring for and respecting others as well.”
Speaking as a parent of one of Darrow’s former students, Stubenhofer said she was glad her child had him as a teacher.
“He’s one of those teachers that you’ll never see up for teacher of the year because he quietly does his job,” she said.