After 19 years of teaching at the high school, life skills teacher Deborah Decker is retiring this year. Decker taught Functional Daily Living Skills and all core classes at the secondary level.
In total, Decker has spent 28 years in the teaching field; however, the majority of her career has been with the Altoona School district, something Decker cherishes.
Throughout her years of teaching, Decker believes Altoona has given her many opportunities.
“I had the opportunity to attain my Master’s Degree with the support of the school district which had been a personal goal. It gave me opportunities to work and provide support for students who never thought they would graduate from high school. Opportunities to gain, gather, practice and put into place, learning strategies that are new and innovative have been an added bonus,” Decker said.
With all these opportunities come memories. For Decker, a lot of these memories revolve around her students.
“It is always a special time when students realize their potential and thank you as a teacher for contributing to that. Other times are when a student shares a valuable lesson that they have learned in your class and carry it into other activities in their lives…With all the typical teacherisms being shared I can remember a specific student who had such a compassionate heart for animals that he brought a box turtle to school one day in his Trapper Keeper and a lizard in his pocket another day. It created quite a stir, but the other students loved it,” Decker said.
Some of those memories come from outside of the class, too.
“Good memories also include the times I run into a student who has graduated but shares the idea that they miss being in class because that is where they discovered their self worth,” Decker said.
For Decker, retirement is a way to explore new adventures and opportunities. Although she won’t be teaching anymore, Decker plans to find a way to still help and contribute to the community.
“Plans are difficult to make with the state of our community at this time, but it is my desire to continue to work in some capacity in the education sector. Retirement offers more options to spend time with family, volunteering in the community, personal development and so much more. Since I’ve never retired before, it will be an adventure for sure,” Decker said.
Due to school’s cancellation throughout the rest of the year, Decker is unable to say ‘goodbye’ or ‘thank you’ to her current students. However, if Decker could send her last goodbyes to the school, she would show how much the students of Altoona mean to her.
“Above the multitude of thank you’s I would like to say, it has been a true pleasure to be among those who have passed through the halls of Altoona High,” Decker said.
“You may have been a student, or a co-worker, you may have known me as your teacher or your friend and I want you to know that I am the beneficiary of having known some of the best, most hard working, dedicated people on the planet. I am better for having you in my life. Thanks so much,” Decker said.