ORWELL — At the end of this school year the Orwell Village School will say a final goodbye to two longtime teachers — Susan Young and Pat Dubois.
Young, a first-grade teacher, leaves the school after teaching various ages for nearly 40 years. Dubois retires after 13 years of teaching English Language Arts (ELA) and social studies to sixth- through eighth-graders in Orwell.
Sixty-one-year-old Young started teaching at the Village School in 1974 after completing her student teaching there. She took a break from teaching in 1977 to have two children and resumed her duties at the Village School in 1981. During her four decades years in education, she’s taught kindergarten through third grade.
In that time, Young said she’s observed evolution in the methodology of educational strategies and techniques used in the classroom.
“I’ve seen tremendous changes in the approaches that we use teaching children and getting back to seriously understanding the reasons why we learn things the way we do and not just through memorization,” she said.
In her tenure, Young also has seen the proliferation of technology in classroom settings, which she said has its pluses.
“It gives us a connection to the world,” she said. “When you live in a rural community, it helps to be able to make that connection.”
When the Orwell school received a letter from a school in Indiana, Young’s class used Google Earth to find the school and look at the geography of the surrounding area. The Indiana school did the same when their class replied with another letter, counting the houses in Orwell visible from satellite.
Young has had the pleasure of mentoring and affecting uncounted children. She taught kindergarten to three of her own children and has been able to teach four of her six grandchildren.
“I’ve taught a lot of other people’s children and grandchildren as well,” she added.
After this year, Young said she will obtain a retired teacher’s license, allowing her to continue to help as a substitute. She will train her replacement and continue to run the book fair (which she has run for the past 22 years) and plans to oversee the school’s 14-member cribbage club, which she organized five years ago.
Meanwhile, Dubois, 65, has made her own mark on the school. She came to Orwell in 2000, after stints at much bigger schools out of state. She initially worked in Orwell as a substitute librarian and later moved to a full-time teaching position. In addition to teaching social studies and ELA, Dubois also works as the coach for the geo-bee team, in which children study and compete against youngsters from other schools in geography quizzes at Castleton State College.
After the end of the school year next month, Dubois said she intends to move to the area around Blackstone, Mass., to spend time with her family.
Reflecting on her tenure at the Orwell Village School, Dubois said she would miss the students the most.
“They’ve all been friendly and respectful,” she said. “This is a small school and there aren’t that many problems. It’s good to be with kids that don’t have the big city problems.”
Dubois came to Orwell after teaching in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. One had a student population of 1,200, another had 2,000. Orwell Village School has a student population of about 100 this year. After coming to Vermont, Dubois said she found the smaller size to her liking.
“The community is very supportive of education,” she said. “They’re very involved with their students and they support their education. It’s been easy to work here, in that aspect.”
Pat Walters, principal at the Orwell Village School, acknowledged the service of the teachers.
“We have a senior staff,” he said. “They’re here by choice and they’ve created a culture that you just can’t replicate.”
Susan Young said it was not that the school that was lucky to have her, but that she was the lucky one.
“I feel like I’ve hit pay dirt because it’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. “I’ve never considered myself going to work, I’ve always considered myself going to school.”