Frenship ISD says good-bye to retiring teachers

Disneyland opened in Anaheim, James Dean died in a Porsche 550 Spyder, the first film footage of Elvis Presley was shot as part of a film short about a Cleveland disc jockey and Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat.

Fifty-four years later, much has changed in the world, and in education. After 54 years, Kathryn Hamilton, 87, will leave behind desks, teens and grades to become a retiree.

Hamilton taught at Frenship High School for 39 years, but this is her 54th in public schools. Before that, she taught for three years in a private kindergarten.

Over the years, she has taught English at all levels from grades 7-12, psychology and theater.

With one more year, she would have had 40 years in with FISD, so she said she believes she surprised her peers by deciding this was the year she would retire.

“I just decided it was time,” said Hamilton. “Technology and I don’t get along too well, and I decided to let the kids have someone that likes it.”

Even in retirement, Hamilton said she plans to stay busy.

“I have a son, and he said, ‘Mother, I’ll take you on a cruise now.’” she said. “I said, ‘Oh, sure.’”

Hamilton said she has very high hopes of getting her house straightened up and closets emptied.

“Somebody said, ‘Oh, you should write a book, because things have really changed in education.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I could do that,’” she said. “You think about 54 years in education, things have definitely changed.”

Hamilton said it seems every three years, the curriculum is changed. But the biggest change is technology, and the way it changes student priorities.

“It has its advantages, but then it has some disadvantages, because our kids depend on it too much for all of their spelling and their punctuation,” she said. She said some students do not know how to read or write cursive handwriting anymore. They just don’t see a point or reason for it, she said.

“They may be right,” said Hamilton, noting computers display a form of print most of the students mastered in early grades. But she said they should realize many documents are already written in cursive, such as legal documents.

Hamilton said over the years, she has admired some of her students as they have gone off to conquer the world, and she seemed pleased when she said some of them admired her, too.

“I really do enjoy teaching. As I said, things are changing so fast, I don’t want to cheat them,” she said.

Llona Steele
Between ages 11 and 14, Llona Steele learned in an American school for children of the military employees in eastern France.

Although she did not learn in French, she said she soaked up some of the language and culture just by living there. As many of her family members were educators, she eventually felt led to teach French and Spanish.

Steele taught for more than 30 years in Kansas schools, with 31 in the Salina school district.

And then she and her husband, Lynn, retired. For a year.

She began to teach again in Kansas City, where she imparted her knowledge for three years.

“Things just kind of happened, and I found myself in Texas,” said Steele. “We have family who have lived here for years, and friends.”

Her husband wanted to come work for the Vietnam Center and Archives at Texas Tech, and someone mentioned to her that Frenship needed a French teacher.

“This wonderful job showed up,” she said. “And this has been a really nice school district to work for. I’ve really enjoyed all the way up and down from the superintendent to the administration all the way to the custodians, who are really, really great.”

Steele taught for FISD for five years, and is now retiring again.

She said she will miss the interaction with both students and colleagues.

“I tell the students I learn more from them than they learn from me each year,” she said. “I think it (teaching) keeps the mind working, it keeps the stamina working.”

In retiring a second time, Steele said she’ll probably stay in Texas for a while.

“We like the winters,” she said. Her son is a meteorologist in Norman, Okla., while her daughter lives in Chicago. So she will also visit family members scattered throughout the U.S., she said.

Beverly Schaffner
After 25 years as secretary to several of Frenship High School’s principals, Beverly Schaffner said she looks forward most to not having to live by a clock in her retirement.

“Not having to get up with an alarm every morning, and watch for when the bell’s going to ring for the next passing period,” she said of her goals for retirement.

Before her time with FHS, Schaffner served as a school secretary for Lubbock-Cooper Elementary and as an aide in Victoria Independent School District for two years.

Her career in schools was chosen deliberately, she said.

“My son was just starting school, and I wanted to be on the same schedule. I wanted to be off when he was,” she said.

Schaffner said she has always lived on a farm, except the first few years that she was married to Ronnie Schaffner.

In retirement, she said she and Ronnie may travel, but have yet to make any long-range plans.

“My husband’s still working, so we can’t get away just yet,” she said.

Now that her days at FHS are ending, Schaffner said she doesn’t know if she will begin to cheer again for Lubbock-Cooper, where she was once a Pirate.

“I’ve been a Tiger for 25 years now. It was hard to change to say, ‘Go Tigers!’ But now it’s easy,” she said.

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