Sparta teacher retiring from classroom

McIntyre retires after 30 years in education

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  • Donna McIntyre

By Karen Daley

— In the next few weeks, students and parents alike will be anxiously awaiting the news of their teacher for the upcoming school year. For those students entering kindergarten, there will be a noticeable absence.

Donna McIntyre has taught her last year. A career of 30 years, 21 of those were spent teaching and molding the minds of five and six-year-olds.

From the age of five, McIntyre knew she wanted to be a teacher. After graduating from Caldwell College, she started teaching third grade at Reverend Brown School. Three years later, she switched to Sparta public school and taught first and second grades.

In 1993 she started teaching Kindergarten. This was her niche.

Many changes have occurred over those years. When she began teaching kindergarten, chalkboards were in every classroom. Today, it is hard to find a piece of chalk. White boards, smart boards and computers are used today.

“Education is continually changing, and as educators, we recognize the need to grow and remain life-long learners,” said McIntyre.

At a time when she had two young children at home, she felt compelled to learn more. She wanted to learn different teaching methods and techniques. She got her Master’s Degree from Mary Grove College.

This was about the time when she introduced music into her teaching.

“Children learn best through music” McIntyre said.

She has taught many letter, color and safety songs to her students. When in her classroom at Alpine, she even played the piano for the children to sing along with. Many of McIntyre’s past students and parents still remember these catchy tunes and use them to teach their younger children.

She was twice awarded the Governor’s Teacher Award. Her first award was in 2004. It came after a brief absence due to a brain tumor.

She was back in the classroom two months after surgery.

Ten years later, and the last year of her career, she was once again honored for excellence in the classroom.

Over the years, McIntyre learned the key to teaching children is a good night’s sleep and patience. She learned to always have a list and back-up plan.

“Anything can happen with children," McIntyre said. "Organization and flexibility on a day-to-day basis is very important.”

She said what she will miss most is the art projects, setting up the room, and meeting the students and parents in the beginning of the year.

Many students came in not knowing what to expect or how to act when entering Kindergarten.

“To get those students, who at first struggled, and by mid-year understand and are succeeding, was a great reward,” she said.

In a retirement dinner, a fellow teacher said, “Donna, you are a great role model. The students learned as much from how you act as they do from what you say,”

“Your commitment to your work in the Sparta School District will be remembered and appreciated for many years to come.”

McIntyre plans to read, and sit and enjoy not going to the supermarket on Sundays.

She plans to remain in town and enjoy the things that as a working professional could not.

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