AMBOY – Linda Klein’s kindergarten students at Central Elementary School are anxious to see the summer vacation begin.
Klein is, too, but unlike her students, she won’t be back to see her students take their skills to the first grade next year.
After 30 years of teaching preschool, kindergarten and third grade in Amboy Schools, Klein is retiring. She plans to spend much of her time with her three adult children and five grandchildren.
Each special classroom moment had a bittersweet sense to it this year, she said.
“It’s been like that going through this last year,” Klein said. “Like, that was the last time I got to enjoy making the gingerbread boy or girl with the class, the last Thanksgiving feast, and the last Christmas concert.
“It’s been high and low, but I know there’s a new chapter to begin with grandparenting and all that sort of stuff.”
For some Amboy students, Klein was the first teacher they ever had, whether it was in kindergarten, or with the Clipper Kiddies preschool program. As an assistant high school softball coach, some girls’ education comes full circle with Klein, from drawing circles to pitching circles.
Central houses students up to fourth grade, so Klein gets to check in on her former students every now and again.
“It’s wonderful to see how they start out, and then what they can become,” Klein said. “That’s the most amazing part, and to be able to see them become young adults.”
Like many teachers with her amount of teaching experience in the same small town, Klein, a Sublette native, has taught two generations of some families. After moving on from Clipper Kiddies 21 years ago, she taught third grade, moved to kindergarten, back to third grade, and back to kindergarten.
Tangible visual aids provided much of the learning for kindergarten students two decades ago. One-to-one laptops were introduced to Amboy Schools a few years ago, and kindergartners now have their own Chromebook to aid in learning numbers, letters and words.
Klein has embraced the transition.
“Basically, in kindergarten, it’s learning the numbers and the letters, and it’s so fun to watch them finally be able to sound out, read or write a word,” Klein said. “That basic stuff is still the same core, but now with the computers, it is truly amazing to see them.”
Klein’s students were practicing using numbers to build addition and subtraction skills as the year came to a close, but when working with words, the class mastered them perhaps better than any of her others before. This year’s class, she said, is the biggest group of readers she’s had, and each of her students made extra pushes to earn more Accelerated Reader points for the class, in part by reading as many as 10 books in a month.
“You never know who is going to start clicking and really want to achieve,” Klein said. “That’s the great part about teaching.”
Central principal Joyce Schamberger admired Klein’s willingness to help others, not just within the walls of the school, but also in the community and church.
“She’s a strong teacher leader,” Schamberger said. “The other teachers in the building look up to her. She’s always willing to help anybody in need of anything. She’s just an all around good person.”
Two of Klein’s daughters live out of town, from 90 minutes to 4 1/2 hours away. She hasn’t ruled out a possible temporary return to do substitute teaching, though.
Klein encourages her students to become lifelong learners.
“I feel truly blessed to have had each and every one of these students,” Klein said. “It’s amazing to think about how many you have seen over the years.”