Solana Vista Elementary School is bidding a fond farewell to two of its third-grade teachers, Rose Andrews and Tom Richardson, who are retiring at the end of this school year.
"Fast" is how Andrews summed up her 39 years of teaching in the Solana Beach School District. She began teaching at Central School in 1970 and taught at Skyline Elementary School for many years before coming to Solana Vista in 1982.
"You turn around, I now have kids of students I taught," she said.
The San Diego native remembers that her first day of teaching was so overwhelming she cried, but each day improved and she has loved coming to school ever since.
"It's being with the children, watching them grow, learn, those 'a ha!' moments, seeing their excitement," Andrews said. "I really can't imagine doing any other job."
Andrews said she enjoyed the creative, hands-on work that comes with the younger grade levels. Along with colorful art projects, Andrews strove to fill her room with laughter by joking with her students and helping them understand it's OK to make mistakes.
"I like to laugh a lot, laugh at myself," Andrews said. "It's important to laugh."
Andrews said she will miss her students and friends at the school, but looks forward to retirement as another season in her life. However, she will not become too disconnected from education - her daughter is beginning her teaching career in the school district next year.
"I feel very blessed to be here and I ended up in Solana Beach," Andrews said.
Richardson was also set on working in San Diego, where he has lived since he was four years old. When he began teaching in 1973, he commuted to Mission Viejo for two years before landing a job at Skyline Elementary School.
Richardson transferred to Solana Vista in 1982, where he is best known as the director of the third grade play. The play, in which every third grader has a role acting, singing, dancing or playing an instrument, has become a highlight of the year for the students and Richardson.
He said he enjoys "helping students accomplish things they never thought they could, teaching them independence and pride in themselves."
In his classroom, Richardson pushed his students to do their best, never accepting the second-rate work or the bare minimum when he knew a student could do better.
"Most kids can attain a higher level of excellence they may not be used to producing," he said.
But Richardson said he also had plenty of fun with his third graders.
"You can make up almost anything and they'll believe you," he said.
Richardson said he is ending his 36-year-teaching-career on a high note with a really nice group of students and families. He said he is looking forward to exploring different interests in retirement.
"In my young age I was an avid surfer," Richardson said. "I might even get back in the water again."
A fond farewell
Students and families whose lives have been touched by Mr. Richardson and Mrs. Andrews are invited to attend a retirement party at 5 p.m. June 5 at 3287 Avenida La Cima in Carlsbad.