Denfeld News

Aug. 18, 2006
Duluth Budgeteer News

Retired teachers return to school to help a new set of 'students'
By Anna Kurth


It’s a time to kick back, relax, travel and spend time with family.

But for two of Denfeld’s recently retired teachers it’s a time to get back to work.
Math teacher Mae Pierson and history teacher David Griffin will be back at school part time doing what they do best — teaching. Only this time their students won’t be teenagers.

Pierson and Griffin are going to teach the teachers. The former educators will work with staff development as the result of a Dropout Prevention Grant and other grants Denfeld High School received.

Pierson will focus on the use of technology in the classroom and Griffin will focus on good teaching skills, said Denfeld Principal Ed Crawford.

“We’re elated that they are willing to come back and share their years of expertise and talent,” Crawford said. “They represent the best of the best of who we have among our teachers.”

Pierson, who taught in the district for 32 years, is beginning her staff development at the end of August. She’ll be schooling teachers new to the district in the use of the Infinite Campus system. Throughout the school year, she’ll also demonstrate how to incorporate technology, such as the Smart Board, into the classroom, she said.

Smart Board is a white board connected to a computer.

Pierson received a grant a few years ago to incorporate Smart Board into her math class, Crawford said.

She had a high level of success in her classroom, which shows that her methods are successful, he said.

Using technology in the classroom is almost a different kind of teaching. It gets kids more involved, Pierson said.

So many people are afraid of making a mistake with technology, so it’s good to have someone available to give advice, she said.

Griffin worked in the district for 35 years. For seven years, he did staff development. He goes back to that role on a part-time basis.

“I actually find my retirement as a chance to find other ways to help,” Griffin said. “I like teaching. I like being with kids, and I ... don’t think I’ll ever quit.”

Griffin is making sure that his staff development keeps him in contact with the main event — the students.

The plan is for teachers to bring their classes into the lecture hall where Griffin will demonstrate the components of a good lesson plan and how to deliver it while the teachers observe, Crawford said.

So Griffin will still be teaching in the classroom.

Pierson will most likely do the same kind of thing, Crawford said.

Both educators are right for this role in staff development because they are well respected by their peers, he said. The other teachers know their quality, expertise and enthusiasm as educators. They’ve seen Pierson’s and Griffin’s methods work, Crawford said.

“They’re both very skilled teachers. ... Now they are using their expertise in a different way and everyone gains — the students, the teachers and Denfeld High School,” Crawford said. “They drove the changes; they welcomed it. I can’t say enough good things about these two.”

Griffin plans to help with staff development as long as the district wants him, and he’s physically able to help, he said.

“I’m not doing this for money. I’m getting paid but ... I’m doing this because I like it,” Griffin said. “Teaching is like playing to a certain extent, and the biggest thing is kids. I like being around and helping kids.”

Pierson already misses the classroom. She sees this part-time work as a way to restore some balance now that she’s stopped teaching, she said.

“We just put so much of ourselves personally (into teaching),” Pierson said. “It’s really hard to put that aside.”

Both Pierson and Griffin also have plans to enjoy their retirement. Part time is part time, and both have plenty of hobbies, trips and family time planned, they said.

“I miss it already,” Pierson said of teaching. “I miss it terribly, but I am looking forward to this new phase in my life.”

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