Four staff members say goodbye

Angela Colombo, Of The Talon staff

Saying goodbye has never been an easy task, but as the end of the school year approaches, there are several farewells to be made in the wake of retirement as choir teacher Angela Rice, science teacher Darrin Peters, PE teacher and track coach Tony Edwards, and secretary Deborah Gayer begin their post-Summit journeys.

Many teachers are unable to say that they spent the entirety of their career in one spot, often switching between schools and districts throughout their time teaching; however, Rice said that she started as a teacher here at Summit and will now be completing her teaching career right where she began.

“I have been a teacher for 27 years and I have been here at Summit for 27 years. I started here brand new. Before I started teaching I worked as an academic advisor at a college and I am hoping to do that again after I retire. I have to have some type of job and I loved it when I did it before. I would love it if I got to work remotely but we will just have to wait and see,” Rice said.

While some may imagine that post-retirement plans would not include returning to work, like Rice, Peters shared that he also plans on continuing to work part time for multiple companies- in addition to other leisure activities.

“Post retirement, Mrs. Peters and I will travel and we are new grandparents so we’ll get to play with the baby. I will also work part time here at school doing the biodiesel project, so like ten hours a week, and I’ll work part time for the department of energy doing some things with the Clean Cities Foundation,” Peters said.

When she retires, Gayer said that she plans on spending a majority of her free time with family and friends at home in addition to working on renovations of her home.

“I have tons of stuff that I plan on doing post-retirement. I’m going to be doing a lot of volunteering, a lot of family and friend type things, a lot of downsizing my home too so I will not have any trouble finding things to fill my time.

I won’t be traveling though, I’m a homebody so I like just being with my family and friends here,” Gayer said.

While the motivations teachers have for choosing the profession differ, Peters said teaching was a given. Being surrounded by family members for his whole life, he said that teaching was something that ran in his blood and because of that he decided to take up a similar path to that of his relatives.

“I became a teacher because it was a familiar thing,” Peters said. “My mom and dad were both teachers, my sister is a teacher, my niece is a teacher, my grandmother was a teacher, my aunt was a teacher- it runs in the family. So it was a very familiar thing for me to go into teaching because it was what I grew up around.”

After several decades working as both a teacher and coach, Edwards said that his inspiration to become a coach came from an old coach who helped him during a difficult period in his life.

“Some years ago when I was a young man my home life wasn’t too good and a man by the name Clark Willie, he was a teacher and coach, kind of took me under his wing. He was a mean man but he was a good man and he inspired me,” Edwards said. “He helped me out and so I thought what better way to pay him back than by teaching. And that’s what I’ve been doing all these years is paying him back, at least in my heart.”

Like Coach Willie had an impact on Edwards, many teachers at Summit have had an influence on the lives of their students. Rice said that over the years, she has received letters from students detailing the change that she has had on them, and those letters have become the best part about teaching.

“There are so many great memories from my time here, but my favorite thing is when a student will write me a note and tell me that I made a difference for them when I had no idea that I was even having that kind of an impact. That is my very favorite thing,” Rice said.

Edwards said that being a teacher gives him a feeling of importance and after retirement he will miss not only the feeling but the opportunity to help kids on their journeys.

“When I’m in school or in front of a class, I’m a teacher, I’m someone important. When I walk away from this I just don’t want to become invisible, just another person walking on the street,” Edwards said. “When you’re a teacher or a coach it feels like you’ve always got someone depending on you, someone that you can help out and help guide and my fear is becoming invisible to people once I am no longer a teacher or a coach.”

Peters said that while leaving itself may not be extremely hard, leaving behind the connections that he has made along the way will prove to be tough.

“There’s a lot of really good memories here at Summit, but in all honesty, it’s not going to be that hard leaving. But I will miss the connections and the friendships that I have in the science department and the relationships with the kids. That will make [saying goodbye] hard,” Peters said.

Similarly, Gayer said that leaving will be made difficult because of the relationships she has made and people she has met during her time at Summit.

“I’ve been at Summit just shy of five years but I’ve been with Rockwood for twenty, so the hardest about leaving is definitely the people. I will miss the people, but we will keep in contact so that’s okay,” Gayer said.

For Rice, the hardest part about ending her time here at Summit won’t necessarily be the past experiences but rather the future ones. She said that not quite knowing where life will lead post-retirement makes the transition arduous.

“This has become like my comfort zone, so really it’s like closing a chapter. Just like seniors going off to college, the hardest part is just being unsure of the next step,” Rice said. “I, of course, will miss all of the students and all of my friends here, but personally I know that when I walk out of here for the last time I am going to be wondering where I’m going to walk into next.”

Goodbyes can be even more taxing for some than they are for others. Edwards said that although many may not know, he has never been fond of goodbyes.

“I quit going to graduations because it’s hard for me to say goodbye. And I know people don’t really know that about me, but I get attached to you guys and it’s hard for me to say goodbye, I’m just not good at it. And for that reason, I know it’s kind of a selfish one, I don’t go to graduations anymore. It’s just hard for me to say goodbye,” Edwards said.