Chittenden teacher retires after twenty-nine years

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(Host) Thousands of elementary students and teachers in Vermont wrapped up another year of school this week – eager to begin summer vacation.

But for many retiring teachers, the last day of school is bittersweet.

VPR’s Nina Keck caught up with a first grade teacher in Chittenden, who retired yesterday after 29 years at Barstow School.

(Keck) Sandy Gipe knew it was going to be an emotional day. There was an awards assembly in the gym, a tearful speech from her principal and hugs from all her colleagues. But the hardest thing, says Gipe, was saying goodbye to her students. That began in the morning, when she showed them the second grade classroom they’d occupy next fall.

(Gipe) “You’ll have new friends and you’ll have old friends and you’ll have a great time with your next year’s teacher . . . . .”

“It’s not easy leaving such a nice position. You can come into school and you can be feeling the worst you’ve ever felt in your life. And after you get a couple hugs, an I love you and the sparkle in the eyes. Everything is out the window as far as feeling bad. I have been rewarded more than anyone can know through my teaching years.”

(Keck) “Do the kids have a sense that you’re leaving?”
(Gipe) “Yes they do.” We talked about what retiring means and you would love to hear some of those reports back about retiring. One was – will you be able to take your teeth out and put them on the bedroom table once you retire?’ I was quite shocked at that one. The other was now you can have lunch with the girls,’ cuz they heard me talking to their moms, who I’ve made many friends with the parents. So they think retiring means you can go out for lunch. And retiring means that I just won’t be teaching, but maybe I’ll come back and sub they think.”

(Kids) “Mrs. Gipe. . . thank you. . . . we love you. . . . I love you too”

(Keck) Gipe says she has no plans to be a substitute. But as she lines up with all the other teachers to wave goodbye on the last day, she says she definitely plans to come back to school now and then to visit.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Chittenden.

(Kids) “Bye! Have a nice summer.”

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