Dear Mrs. Manser:

I know you’ve long since retired from teaching second grade at Alice Callen Elementary, but I wanted to write you an essay about what I did on my spring vacation.

Because one of my co-workers was out on medical leave ... I covered the education beat for what happened to be the last six weeks of school.

That’s the period from prom to graduation. I covered both of those, which was fun, as well as band and choir concerts, School Board meetings in Ripon and Green Lake, and Ripon College’s commencement ceremony.

But the highlight of my spring vacation was covering the academic activities of students and their teachers, who bent over backwards to make classroom lessons come alive for eager young minds.

I fondly recall Ripon High School teachers Amber Boone and Kelly Esala sitting at Mugs on a Wednesday evening, selling art students’ ceramic “empty bowls” and foods students’ soup to go in them so proceeds could be given to the Traded Treasures Food Pantry.

Murray Park/Quest Elementary Jessi Johnson urged me to get out of the office long enough to visit Larry and Betsy Miller’s prairie paradise, which they generously have opened to students for 23 years. Third-graders learn first-hand about ecosystems within the wetlands, prairie, pond and forest.

I was encouraged to stop by Barlow Park/Journey Elementary to watch Bill Kehl blow his didgeridoo above the heads of teacher Mary Wagner’s students ...

Teacher Janet Ernst not only tipped me off to retired teachers Gib Stoeberl and Tracy O’Brien pretending to be turn-of-the-century headmasters at the Little White Schoolhouse, she emailed me photos ...

Ripon Middle School teacher Jen Lee called me at home one evening at 9 p.m. to tell me about how her and teacher Joshua Kollman’s students would be giving TED talks at the Campus Theatre.

Teacher Jeanne Hall and food service director Briony Storz invited me to watch students learn to prepare international cuisine at the hands of chef Michael Norman, and then prepare their own banquet for 150 ... you get the point.

Education in the Ripon Area School District is thriving. Our students are in more-than-capable hands, reminding us that Teacher Appreciation Day should be any day that ends in a “y.”

— Tim Lyke

To read the entire editorial, see the June 11, 2015 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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