GREEN : After spending 40 years in kindergarten, JoAnne McHenry is moving on.
A Green High School and Kent State University graduate, the mother of two grown children will call an end to her kindergarten career on May 31 as the only Green Local Schools teacher retiring this spring from the 375-student Greenwood Early Learning Center.
“Oh, sure, I’ll miss the children, but I’m looking forward to spending some of my time with one even younger,” said JoAnne McHenry with a big smile referencing her first grandchild with her husband of 40 years, Herb.
The new edition to the family, a baby girl, has already been giving her grandparents some sleepless nights a week before St. Patrick’s Day because her delivery date had already passed.
“I am on pins and needles awaiting her arrival,” said the first-time-to-be grandmother. “As soon as she arrives, we’re out of here, headed to New York City and our daughter and granddaughter.”
During retirement, McHenry said she plans on traveling, spending more time with her husband, a retired salesman, and visiting the Big Apple for her daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law, “whenever we’re needed,” she added.
The McHenrys not only have raised their two children, but the teacher has had a hand in raising more than 2,000 students, who have passed through her kindergarten doors: three years with the Plain Local Schools and the last 37 in Green.
“I truly have enjoyed teaching kindergarten,” JoAnne McHenry explained.
She quickly found her niche in her first year of teaching. She said she decided to stay with kindergarten because not many teachers were leaving their positions.
“I didn’t want to leave kindergarten and then find I didn’t like the new assignment as much and might not be able to return to my old classroom,” she said.
JoAnne McHenry said she has averaged about 25 pupils per class over the course of her career. She has two half-day classes per day at Greenwood as do two other instructors. Another 10 kindergarten teachers have all-day classes.
Second-year Principal Scott Aten, who has spent all of his 20 years in education at Green Schools, said JoAnne McHenry will be sorely missed as she departs.
“To be 40 years in one grade, that’s just unheard of,” Aten said. “I don’t know that that happens that often because the burnout of doing the same thing is a fact of education.
“The fact that she has done that and is dedicated to her students [is impressive], and I know that when the students leave her room that they have been instructed in reading, taught how to write and they have some really good foundational skills to go next door (Green Primary School) next year in the first grade.
“I also know that the teachers over there are appreciative when they get one of Mrs. McHenry’s students.”
As for the biggest change in kindergarten over the past 40 years, Mrs. McHenry summed it up in one word: academics.
“Now the children are expected to read and write before they leave kindergarten, which wasn’t taught 40 years ago until they were in the first grade,” she said.