Tricounty News

Retired, but not gone or forgotten

By Jean Doran Matua, Editor

Two long-time teachers at Kimball Elementary School have finished their last full school year. Combined, they have taught 73 years, 67 years in Kimball.

Susan Sides came to Kimball in 1972. Her first class was a combined class with grades 4, 5 and 6. (Don Thurber and Bob Wills were in her first class here.) She taught fifth grade for seven years, and then second grade ever since.

She remembers fondly the old school where she started teaching here. That school, built in 1911 as a high school, was replaced by the current building in 1989.

"I love the old school," she said. And I learned that some of it is still here: the current music room is a portion of the old school around which the new school was built.

Sides plans to travel. In fact, she's already in Beijing, China, visiting her son who has worked there for nearly two years, teaching.

"Kimball families are just so amazing," she said. She added that it's been wonderful to get to know all the families.

The bonus of teaching in one place for so long is when she started teaching the kids of her former students.

Pat Dockendorf taught for six years before arriving in Kimball 30 years ago. Four of her Kimball years teaching were in the second grade. Otherwise, she has taught special ed, particularly learning disabilities.

Dockendorf plans to "enjoy life with my husband who is already retired." Those plans include traveling, golfing, and finding somewhere warm from January through March.

One of her favorite memories is going to the Old Meyer schoolhouse in St. Augusta with student groups each year.

But her most rewarding memories are each time when I student finally "gets it," when they tell her, "I can read!" The second-best reward is the "thank-yous" she gets from parents at graduation.

Dockendorf has taught reading and math skills in the elementary school, mostly in small groups, helping students to reach goals. But building self-esteem, she explained, is the most important part of her job.

"That's my specialty," she said.

Both Sides and Dockendorf plan to substitute and/or volunteer back at KES from time to time.