SAN ANTONIO — A recent poll is highlighting the toll a school year can take on teachers. According to Gallup, Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers report the highest burnout rate of all U.S. professions. And The National Education Association reports a staggering 55 percent of educators are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than they had planned.
But at Alamo Heights ISD, two educators are proving to be the exception. They are a couple of Elementary school teachers with more than a century of experience combined. KENS 5 Anchor Sarah Forgany shows us how they’ve kept going for so many years.
It never gets old for Debbie Dixon and Carol Walters.
“I went into Walmart and bought all these folders and spirals, I love school supplies it’s the weirdest thing. I mean, really weird.. hahaha,” Walters said.
No matter how many years they’ve had to do it
“We are 51,” Dixon and Walters said, “51st year of teaching”.
Teaching they say, is their purpose.
“It's the connection with the children first. It's that walking into the room and they walk into the room and you look at each other. And it's this energy that happens,” Dixon said, “It happens day after day, every day.”
They’ve had to do it every day.. combined for more than a century in the profession. Their teaching careers dating back to the early 70s.…
“I've taught in North Dakota. I taught overseas in Japan,” Dixon said, “I taught in California, I've taught in Alabama. And then my last 34 years have been here.”
Here is Alamo Heights ISD’s Woodridge Elementary where Dixon teaches 5th grade science and social studies and Walters walks the same hallways teaching the gifted and talented.
“My favorite Aunt Henrietta said I think you need to be a teacher. Well, at that time, St Mary's University didn't have elementary ed, so I ended up going to Incarnate Word and got a degree in elementary ed and it was the best decision I've ever made!”
And oh how the times have changed “we had slate chalkboards, real Slate so when you were writing, pieces of slate would fall off. We had outdoor bathrooms there,” Dixon said as she looked at Walters while reminiscing.
“Remember when we started?,” Walters told Dixon, “I mean the technology when we would do notecards and when we were doing research. Oh, gosh, the basic research project was awful. Now that you think about them and now we're on technology and they could do these wonderful projects and learn all this new things.”
Like their students, the Duo learned to embrace a new way, over and over again.
“For people our age or my age, change is not easy,” Walters said, “But that's what you have to do. You have to be flexible and adaptable to what the children want to do or see. “
And no counting how many children have they’ve seen by now, but of this, they are certain.
“You see them as they graduate, you know, they go to elementary school, you make those connections to middle school, high school, and you see them getting married and coming back,” Walters and Dixon said, “And we have their kids. Yes, and their grandkids “
As for retirement talk?
“ I don’t know. We don't feel old. We're not getting old at all. We are not. They are growing up and getting old. We are still in the prime of life,” Added the Duo,” I don't know where the years have gone. We've been having so much fun.”