Show You Care: Two Dyersville Elementary School Teachers retire after 40 years

Show You Care: Two Dyersville Elementary School Teachers retire after 40 years
Published: May. 28, 2023 at 11:19 PM CDT
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DYERSVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) -Two elementary school teachers in Dyersville have retired after teaching for more than 40 years - most of those at the same school.

Tuesday was last day of school in Anita Gleason’s first grade class. While her students will be moving on to second grade, this is the final time after 45 years she’ll be teaching this lesson.

“For the past couple years, I have thought about retiring, and once covid hit, education was not normal. I just wanted to have a normal year before I left,” Anita Gleason, retiring St. Francis Xavier first grade teacher, said

Most of Gleason’s more than four decades of teaching was at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Dyersville.

On Monday, change was the theme of this math class,  changing larger shapes into smaller ones. And change will also be what Gleason is facing as she packs up her classroom.

“I started the first cupboard and I got so emotional. It was like I left with a heavy heart. Everything had a memory,” Gleason said.

One of those memories that sticks out to Gleason is while students were learning virtually during the pandemic, a classroom mom organized a car parade so she could have that connection with her students.

“It was just really touching that they came all the way from Dyersville to Cascade to do that. And almost every student was there,” Gleason said.

Two floors up, Kay Klaren is playing fraction bingo with her fifth grade class as they wrap up the school year. Mrs. Klaren is getting ready to retire after 42 years of teaching - most of those years at Xavier Elementary School.

“I love the atmosphere, love the kids, the parents, the staff. It’s been a great experience,” Kay Klaren, retiring St. Francis Xavier fifth grade teacher, said.

No matter the subject, Klaren says she tried to instill a love of learning in her students.

“One thing that I always subscribe to, on my desk, I have a plaque that says ‘Those who love teaching, make students love learning,’” Klaren said.

While she loved teaching, she knew now was the right time to start her next chapter.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time. I enjoy it. It’s been a great trip, it’s just getting to the point where I’m exhausted at night,” Klaren said. “Teaching is a hard profession. You give so much all day and getting home at night and I was just so tired, so I thought maybe it’s time to pack it up.

Klaren has taught several different grades over the last four decades and she’s taking a lot of memories with her.

“I mean I have student work from 40 years ago that I saved, mementos, you can’t keep them all. It’s hard to part with those things,” Klaren said.

Both teachers say it was a great Catholic school and fellow teachers that have become family that helped them stay so long.

“I’ll miss the faculty. When you are in the same place for 33 years, you know each other’s children. We’ve been through deaths together, been through births together. I’ll miss the kids, miss reading to them. They just have such a love of reading,” Gleason said.

“It’s going to be really bittersweet, really bittersweet. I have wonderful memories, this was like my second home, it’s going to be tough, leaving a job that I love,” Klaren said through tears.

Both women say they didn’t start college thinking they would go into elementary education. Gleason said she started college as an early childhood education major and Klaren considered a drama major but found teaching was a better fit. They both say they plan to spend more time with their grandchildren in retirement.