3 long-term teachers retire from East Grand Middle School
June 1, 2017
This summer marks the end of an era for three teachers at East Grand Middle School.
When classes end next week, three of the Middle School's longest serving teachers will enter retirement. Among them will be sixth-grade English teacher Darcee Kissler.
Kissler has been in education for 31 years, spending the entirety of her career with the East Grand School District.
"It seems like just yesterday when I arrived at Fraser Valley Elementary School for my very first teaching job," Kissler said. "It was January of 1986; I was hired to help out in Cookie Ready's second grade classroom. I clearly remember that there were 32 children. Eight were girls."
Kissler said she can still remember the names of almost all of those students and joked, "I am not sure if that is from trauma or positive imprint."
The experience was a revelation for Kissler who found her life's passion in the classroom. The very next year Kissler took a first-grade teaching position in Fraser. Over the years Kissler has taught fourth and fifth graders, took on the position of Integration Specialist for the District and eventually headed to East Grand Middle School where she has been for the last six-years.
"I came to middle school after about 25 years of being in the elementary level," Kissler said. "I did that on purpose. I really think change is good and different perspectives are good. I came into sixth-grade knowing what these kids should know from teaching elementary."
Kissler said she also transitioned to the middle school to expand her own opportunities for personal growth. While at East Grand, Kissler was selected to join the State's Content Collaborative Committees that helped develop the Common Core standards. Kissler was specifically involved in literacy standards. Her participation in that was something she felt she couldn't do as an elementary teacher.
"When you have an elementary classroom you are with those kids all the time," Kissler said. "They depend on you; you are the whole game for them. Here at the middle school I am 48 minutes of a students day. In my mind I could be away from them for 48 minutes, but not for the whole day."
Kissler was inspired to become a teacher by her parents, who both worked in public education. "My dad was a high school teacher and my mom was a librarian," she said. "All my parents' friends were teachers. I liked what I saw. The value in my home that was placed on education was incredible. Going to school was important. It became part of my value system."
Today though her inspiration comes directly from the students, and their efforts. "I am inspired by our kids' desire to learn," she said. "It is incredible and has never changed in my 31 years." Kissler noted kids have changed less in 31 years than parents have.
"Kids want to learn," Kissler said. "They have a desire to learn. If given the right motivation and spark the growth can be incredible."
Kissler explained her teaching philosophy in three concepts: Accountability, high expectations and consistency.
"Those three things must be in place in order for a classroom to run efficiently," she said.
Kissler reminisced on her first administrator as a teacher, Gary Harris, and how Harris instilled those core concepts in her career. "He held each and every teacher to those words and expected us to hold our students to them as well. I was the youngest on the staff by 10 years; I was blessed to have dynamic colleagues that mentored me. They set high standards from which I learned about work ethic and working as a team. My educational philosophies were born from that time in my life."
Kissler is retiring after 31 years in education, though to hear her tell it she could, "teach for 40 more years". Her son Caleb is a special needs student and is a senior at Middle Park High. Caleb will graduate this year and Kissler said she decided to retire to ensure she could be there to help support Caleb as he enters adulthood.
"I need to be available to help guide him on his journey," Kissler said.
After retiring Kissler plans to dabble in consulting work in the education field. She hopes to continue working at her life's passion by helping teachers and school districts build strong positive relationships.
"This job is all about relationships," she said.