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The North Bend Eagle


 

Halladay's career at NBC ends

by Katie Heller
Published 5/11/11

For 34 years Ann Halladay has been serving as English teacher at North Bend Central, providing students with education in everything from composition to American literature.

At the end of the current school year, however, students will have to get their introduction to Atticus Finch and Ray Bradbury from someone else. Halladay will be retiring from teaching, having spent her entire career in the North Bend school district.

In 1977 Ann Halladay, a recent graduate from Midland College, was looking for a job that would allow her to stay in the Fremont area where her husband was working. Although Halladay originally wanted a career as a journalist, she found herself one class shy of a journalism degree at graduation. Since most of Midland’s journalism classes doubled as education classes, Halladay walked the Midland stage with a teaching degree.

“It was a blessing it worked out that way,” Halladay said. “An opening (in North Bend) came up in August of that year. It was my first teaching job.”
And as it turned out, her last.

Despite the fact that Halladay’s career saw decades of classes and hundreds of students while at NBC, her passion for teaching never waned. Halladay said that she always tried to change things up each year in order to keep lessons fresh.

“I didn’t want to be the teacher that was stagnant, especially toward the end of my career,” she said.

Certainly stagnant would not be a term pupils used when recalling Halladay’s classes. Students often remember her use of cookie pieces to symbolize fairness in discussing the themes of prejudice and family expectations when reading To Kill a Mockingbird, or the “Write your Own Ending” exercise while studying Ray Bradbury.
Halladay said that as a teacher she always tried to stress the importance of interactive learning.

“The more ways you can get (students) to be actively involved in a project or lesson the more it helps them connect,” she said. “For example, using cookies as a way to illustrate stereotypes in a generic way helps kids possibly relate the prejudices that are written about in a 1930s setting to those of small town life.”

Halladay also mentioned that independent thinking was a key point in her classroom.

“I wanted students to think for themselves, and to know that they don’t always have to accept someone else’s interpretation. I wanted to share critical ideas and then see what their interpretation is. Stories change from time to time. They can mean different things at different times to someone who reads them in eighth grade and then again as an adult.”

Although Halladay’s curriculum responsibilities naturally changed over the years, she said that she taught sophomore English all 34 years, and that of the myriad classes she oversaw, American literature was her favorite.

In addition to sharing a love of literature, Halladay’s involvement at NBC extended outside of the classroom as well. She served as sponsor of the National Honor Society, the senior high student newspaper “The Claw” and the junior high student paper “The Paw.” Halladay was also the seventh grade class sponsor, a job she said was rewarding.

“Sometimes teachers don’t like teaching junior high kids because they can be difficult,” Halladay said. “It’s such an emotional and hormonal time in a child’s life. But honestly I love teaching junior high, especially the seventh graders. They still have a thirst for learning and are not yet jaded. Seniors are fun, too. It’s nice to see young people who are almost grown maturing and getting ready for the world.”

In trying to pick a special memory or “flash” from her more than three decades at NBC, Halladay said there were too many to count, but that was part of the beauty of teaching.

“Profound moments happen every day,” she said. “Maybe there isn’t a reaction at that time and you don’t find out about its impact until later. This is why teaching is not just a profession but a calling.”

Halladay also remarked that there is a great responsibility that goes along with this.

“You have to do your best every day because you don’t know when those moments are happening,” she said. “It’s the quiet stuff that counts. Flashes are transient. Your accomplishment is through the students. If they do well, I do well.”
Halladay’s impact as a teacher can be seen in the many students she has had, including her own children.

When asked about what it was like having her kids go through school while teaching at NBC, Halladay admitted there were some great things about it and some not so good. She said she was tougher on them in the classroom, and wanted to be careful to avoid favoritism. However, she also said it was handy for them when they needed something. She remembers her son, Jeff, always wanting money from her.

“He would often come see me in the lounge during my planning time,” she said. “I would tell him to go get my purse from the classroom and bring it to me. I figured if this hulking teenage boy was willing to carry a purse through the hallways then he deserved a couple of bucks.”

It was family that prompted Halladay to make the decision to retire. She says she’s ready to focus on her home life.

“I really want to focus on my family. It’s about responsibilities and time management. I have always had at least two jobs, sometimes more, so it’s going to be an adjustment. But if I really get stir crazy there is plenty for me to do. I plan on doing some writing of my own, I have closets to clean, a roof to replace– a good year’s worth of home projects!”

Halladay said she will indeed sub if needed, and that fact makes it a little easier to leave, a gateway transition that means it’s not totally over for her at NBC.
Overall, Halladay says it’s the people at the high school that she will miss the most.

“NBC is a great place to work,” she said. “It’s been a part of my life for so long. I will miss seeing good friends every day, the colleagues that you get close to like family, and of course the students. Kids today now have to know so much more, but they are resilient. They have to make the best of their future life.”

Which is exactly what Halladay plans to do next.

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