News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News

Top Story 4

June 3, 2010

Retiring Vigo County teacher looks back on career

John Treager ending 43 years in classroom

TERRE HAUTE — As his final day of teaching drew to a close, Honey Creek Middle School teacher John Treager received a group hug from several of his sixth-grade students.

The science teacher received well-wishes from many current and past students, teachers and a parent as he concluded his 43-year teaching career Thursday afternoon.

“Mr. Treager, I’m keeping this in memory of you,” said Miguel Jimenez, who held an empty bag that had contained Tootsie Rolls. Treager has long used the sweet treats to motivate kids, tossing them a Tootsie Roll in exchange for the correct answer to a question. 

Nowadays, he calls them “lloreistoot,” which he tells his students means “carrot sticks in Swahili.” (Not really — it’s just Tootsie Roll spelled backward.)

Teachers are encouraged to provide healthier treats these days, but Treager knows what works.

He began his teaching career at Franklin Elementary in 1967. Bob Mardis was the principal, and a great mentor, he said. Treager spent 13 years there, and another 13 years at Hoosier Prairie Elementary, where Darrell Roundtree was then principal. Treager has been at Honey Creek since it opened 17 years ago.

Thursday was an emotional day for Treager, just as it was for dozens of  longtime teachers and administrators throughout the Vigo County School Corp. who have taken advantage of the district’s early retirement offer. Ten administrators and 83 teachers took the early retirement.

“It’s been a great 43 years,” said Treager, who’s had an impact on three generations of students.

Jimenez, who is from Mexico and has been in Terre Haute for the past 1 1/2 years, said Treager has made his first year at Honey Creek a good one. “He always makes things happy,” the sixth-grader said. “He is really respectful to students, teachers” and everyone.

Treager worked with Jimenez on reading vocabulary and science, and he also helped Jimenez make friends by encouraging all students to talk to each other and interact.

“It’s been a great year,” Jimenez said. “I think I will remember it always.”

His mother, Rosaura, said Treager “has been a hero for my child.” At the end of each day, her son always talked about his science teacher. “I’m very sad to lose this great man,” she said.

Treager’s students are sad to see him retire as well. “He makes science come alive,” said student Brandon Losier.

Another student, Megan Mauriello, said Treager makes science classes fun through stories and jokes. “He makes the class really interesting,” she said. He gets to know his students well, “and if you have problems, he’ll come and help you,” she said.

Students in the sixth-grade “Explorer” team gave Treager a T-shirt they had signed, and they also gave him a book in which students wrote something personal.

 Mauriello wrote to Treager, in part, “You have taught me respect. Every time you gave me an assignment, I made sure I did the best I could because I wanted to please you. I also feel like you have taught me to try and do the absolute best I can.”

When Treager started his career in education, he aspired to be an elementary principal – but three years later, he realized the classroom was where he wanted to be.

His approach with students is “to take them where they are at and you work with them from there.”

He also believes it’s important to connect with kids. “It makes a difference … They know if you’re sincere or not.”

Honey Creek Principal Pat Sheehan, who also is retiring this year, said Treager treats students with respect, uses humor to help them learn and challenges them to do their best. He keeps parents informed about what is happening in the classroom.

Sheehan, whose contract ends June 30, has been a Vigo County educator for 39 years – 10 of those as principal at Honey Creek.

As Treager prepares for retirement, he said he’ll be busy with a new 2 1/2-month-old grandson whom he describes as “the smartest kid I ever met … I can already see he’s going to be a genius.”

He also enjoys working in his woodshop and golfing. He said his wife and “boss,” Nancy, will keep him busy.

While he believes he’s ready for retirement, he’s heard from other retired teachers that the start of the next school year can be tough as they watch everyone else return to school.

To combat the “empty nest” syndrome, Treager has told other teachers retiring from Honey Creek to plan to meet at a local restaurant for breakfast when school starts Aug. 17. “We won’t go through that empty nest syndrome,” he said.

But as school ended Thursday, there was a certain emptiness in his room after students had left, many of them taking Treager’s personal classroom items that he no longer wanted.

In that classroom, he met with Dustin Speth, a teacher at Davis Park Elementary who will take Treager’s place next year. Treager showed Speth around and offered to help him make the transition to Honey Creek.

Another teacher welcomed Speth, but also told him, “You have big shoes to fill.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Top Story 4
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Obama Signs Workforce Training Law UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe
NDN Video
Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity