Retiring educator: Laurel Schoon
School C.R. Hanna Elementary School, Orion
Position RtI (Response to Intervention) teacher
Who and what inspired you to become a teacher?
I think I got inspired by some very nice teachers when I was very young. I love helping people and working with kids, so teaching was a perfect choice for me. I first started teaching at Washington Junior High in Rock Island, where I went to school.
Why did you choose this subject or this grade level?
I was always good at typing and shorthand in high school and liked my business teachers, Mrs. Sharon Butterfield and Mr. Ken Johnson.
What were your biggest challenges as a teacher? How did you handle them?
One challenge that particularly stands out is when we changed from teaching students how to use a typewriter to instructing them on how to use a computer for their assignments. That year I learned right along with the students at first, and then I took computer classes during the summer months to try to keep up with all the changes in technology.
What teaching moments have been the most memorable in your career?
I will never forget the day the Industrial Arts Department came into Room A2 and removed all the electric typewriters. It was right before Christmas break. When I returned from break, brand-new IBM computers were in my room. We were all excited.
Four years ago, I learned that I would be teaching half a day at the Middle School. I was scared to death. I had never worked with that age group before. It turned out to be just what I needed. The smiling faces of my sixth and seventh graders never failed to brighten my day.
Here it is my last year of teaching and once again I was faced with change. I was asked to help a group of students with math and reading at the grade school. The dreaded “fear factor” had struck again. What a change from teaching accounting and computer skills at the high school to helping kindergarteners keep up with their classmates.
In all honesty, this last year has been one of my best. Kindergarteners are full of energy and excited to learn. I found that enthusiasm to be contagious, and I can truly say that I never had a bad day working with these little ones.
What are your plans for your retirement?
I have never traveled to another country and hope to change that. I plan to take a trip to Ireland next summer and also hopefully go on a cruise in the near future. I plan to spend more time with my two grandsons, Brady and Blake.
I also plan to substitute in Orion.
Hometown Rock Island
Education Rock Island High School, 1970; Western Illinois University, bachelor of science in business education, 1974; WIU, master of science in interdisciplinary studies, 1983.
Experience 37 years, 35 in Orion and 2 in Rock Island
August 2010 to present—For my final year of teaching, I have been an RtI teacher at C.R. Hanna in the mornings helping mostly kindergarten students in reading and math. In the afternoons, I have been teaching keyboarding and word processing classes for sixth and seventh graders at Orion Middle School. (I have actually been teaching in the afternoons at OMS since 2007.)
August 1976 to June 2010—I taught in the business department at Orion High School. My classes included keyboarding, word processing, desktop publishing, multi-media and accounting.
August 1978 to June 1980—I taught Gregg shorthand in the adult education program sponsored by Eastern Iowa Community College.
August 1974 to June 1976—I taught typing and general business at Washington Jr. High School in Rock Island, Illinois.
Hobbies I enjoy going to my water aerobics class, listening to my Beatles tunes, watching movies, plays, and musicals, and spending time with my two children and my two grandsons.
Family Husband, Rick; children, Katie, 26, and Geoff, 24.