|3/27/2013 11:53:00 AM|
36 years of coffee, bread, running, and teaching
|Mirror photo by Kacie Thrift|
Entiat English Teacher Terry Richards enjoys his last few months before his retirement.
To most previous students of his, Entiat English Teacher Terry Richards, looks the exact same as he did when he was their teacher. He still sits at his desk with his University of Washington coffee mug, runs after school in his bright colored athletic wear, munches on his stale bread, and makes his students laugh. The only thing changing about Richards is he is retiring after 36 years of teaching.
Richards, 62, graduated from Chelan High School years ago and was influenced by many teachers, including his high school english teacher and father, who was also a teacher. It was in his blood to be a teacher.
"I'm an old Goat," Richards said.
After attending the University of Washington to receive his teaching certificate, Richards started his teaching career bouncing around from Granger, Wapato, and Sedro-Woolley for 20 years. Eventually Richards and his wife Linda built a home up at Mission Ridge in 1994 and in the fall of 1997 Richards took the English teaching job at Entiat High School.
Classroom neighbor and close friend Bill Edwardson remembers the first time he saw Richards.
"We had a teachers meeting and some guy came into talk to us about teaching a lesson. He [Richards] was sitting next to me and he turned to me and said 'why is this guy telling us what to do? How much are we paying this guy to tell us what to do?'. He still does that today," Edwardson says with a laugh.
The word "retire" has been thrown around with Richards' name for years, but to the man that students refer to as Mr. E, his dear friend is finally making the move. Edwardson said the students keep asking what he is going to do when Richards leaves, but he doesn't have an answer.
"My wife is two years younger than me so she has to keep working and I can coast off the gravy train for a few years," Richards said. "The kids are fun, they never change and always look the same but i just keep getting older and older."
Richards time spent in Entiat hasn't been secluded to the classroom but he has also spent some time with the sports team. Two of his best memories in the district are sports related. Back in 2001 the Entiat Basketball team made it to the State Tournament for the first time, in a long time. Playing on the team was Richards' son Chris. Another fond memory is of coaching eight-man football and having to travel to places he never heard of.
Students look forward to seeing Richards and spending time in his classroom. 2011 Graduate Micaiah Hodge said being in English class was always interesting.
"He was always very enthusiastic and smiling when you came into class," Hodge said. "It didn't matter if we were studying Mythology or Shakespeare he always made it fun."
Richards receives plenty of enjoyment out of being a teacher but senior projects is his favorite activity to be seen happening in the classroom. Whether he is teaching grammar or having his students read "Of Mice and Men," Richards is known for his discipline.
"I remind the kids I stand at my doorway every day. If you're going to goof off walk around the corner and do it so I can't see you," Richards jokes as students start filling into the classroom.
Many students remember Richards sense of humor. 2008 Graduate Courtney Blanchfield remembers many moments in the classroom with Richards and most of them make her laugh.
"He was a fun teacher even when he wasn't trying to be the fun one. It's about time he retires," Blanchfield said laughing.
Each spring Richards says goodbye to students he has watched grow up, like most high school teachers. Richards said when students are in his classroom he tries to teach them the right thing to do whether they will do it, or not.
"At least they have been told you're not supposed to do it that way so when they get older maybe they will make right choice," Richards said. "There is more than one right way to do it but you know me, there is my way and there is my way."
This spring, students and co-workers will be saying goodbye to Richards as he has done to senior students for the past 36 years.
A colorful stream of linked pieces of construction paper hang above Richards desk, signifying how many days he has left. Once the school year is finished, Richards plans on getting a dog to take up his free time. He said he might do part time work but it won' be substituting.
"It's been fun, the inside jokes and the things that go back and forth between us," Edwardson said. "We just sit back and talk about the old students and how we are teaching their kids. I'm will miss him and his humor."
Kacie Thrift may be reached at 682-2213 or email@example.com.
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