Teacher saw many changes during career

SIDNEY– The highlight of Jan Abbott’s career was seeing students really engaged in learning, whether in reading or doing math, and seeing struggling students finally “getting it.”

Abbott is retiring this year from Sidney City Schools after 30 years in education. She taught in various elementary grades for four years in Illinois; she was a substitue teacher in various grades in elementary for two years, taught fourth grade for 18 years and taught second grade for four years in Sidney City Schools.

Abbott got her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education in early childhood education from the University of Illinois. One of her biggest accomplishments was going back to school and earning her Education Specialist degree from the Unviersity of Dayton at age 60.

She is also proud of being tech savvy with computers and especially with smart boards.

One of her most memorable and humorous incidents over the years occurred in one of her first years during Fire Prevention Week.

“I told the students that we had Fire Prevention Week because of the Great Chicago Fire in 1870. I had told them that I was originally from Chicago. Then someone asked if I had been alive during the fire,” Abbott said.

Some changes she would have liked to have seen during her career include having no more than 20 students in a primary classroom.

“I would only require the young students to learn reading, writing and math. Standardized testing wouldn’t start until fourth grade and the results would not be part of a teacher’s evaluation,” Abbott said.

She also would have liked to have spent more time getting to know the students personally and less time doing worksheets and grading papers.

She saw a lot of changes during her career, especially technology and the use of computers for everything concerning how the education process is delivered. She also saw parenting change.

“The skill of parenting has really gone down, with many students in charge of themselves at a very early age. Kids are expected to know things they are not developmentally ready for. Most children come from families where both parents work, so they cannot be very involved with their child’s school work,” Abbott said.

She also thinks teachers are not held in high esteem anymore.

“Of course, the amount of testing is absurd. There isn’t any room for ‘fun’ in teaching. There is too much pressure to get the kids to pass the tests” Abbott said.

She grew up in the Chicago area and moved to Ohio in 1983. She has three sons, a daughter and stepdaughter, all whom are grown and married except one. She has eight grandchildren.

She has been married to her husband, Dave, for 14 years. They have two dogs. She enjoys music, reading and camping and is very involved in her church.

Her plans for retirement include enjoying the summer and then starting on her to-do list of things around the house.

“I will also take time to spend more time with all those grandchildren, none of which live in town. I want to go camping more with my husband, read more books and volunteer more at church and other places. Mainly I want to enjoy not having a schedule,” Abbott said.