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Years pass quickly when you do something you enjoy

Elmwood Family and Consumer Education Teacher Sue Thompson will be retiring at the end of the school year after 32 years of teaching. She has also been a track coach for the past 31 years. Sara Tischauser / RiverTown Multimedia

A local teacher will retire after dedicating more than three decades of her life to teaching at the school she herself attended for 13 years.

Sue Thompson, Elmwood schools family and consumer education teacher and track coach, has taught at Elmwood for 32 years and been a track and field coach for 31 years.

"I spent 13 years going to school here and 32 years teaching here," Thompson said about the Elmwood School District. "It's been a big part of my life."

Thompson said her mom taught home economics at Plum City for a couple of years and Thompson decided to pursue a teaching career as well.

"I like all aspects of what I teach," Thompson said. "Teaching kids about life skills."

In addition to being the FCE teacher for the middle and high school students, Thompson also teaches reading and English to seventh graders. Some of the FCE classes include healthy living, foods classes, child development, single living, family living, personal finance and sewing. However, she hasn't taught a sewing class in awhile since there has been no interest for that in recent years.

Thompson said the personal finance class, which helps students learn about writing resumes, preparing for job interviews, managing a paycheck, paying bills (housing, food, etc.), learning about insurance, and managing a checkbook/debit card has become a class that all Elmwood students take.

"Five years ago the school board decided to make [personal finance class] a requirement," Thompson said. "Which I think is a good idea. [These are] things kids need to know before they get out on their own."

She said some students really start to understand their finances in the class, and it gets them thinking about the future.

"Sometimes the light bulb comes on, they get it," Thompson said." Some are already starting to look at the future and save money. I really enjoy seeing that."

In recent years, Thompson said some schools have had to drop FCE classes, but Elmwood has been fortunate to keep their program, which will continue after she retires.

"Our school has always been supportive of our elective classes," Thompson said. "That's very nice that they do that. We were lucky enough to get someone in the area to continue the program."

In addition to teaching, Thompson has enjoyed being a track coach. She started coaching the track team her second year teaching and has continued for the last 31 years. She has also served as an assistant volleyball coach and co-athletic director the last couple of years.

She has had some memorable times with the students.

"I would have to say for track, it [a favorite memory] would be the last dozen or so years have had kids that made it to state for track," Thompson said. "One year we had to take a bus to the state track meet. That was a ton of fun. We had a lot of kids competing."

Seeing the students succeed has given her good memories.

"Just some good state memories," Thompson said. "Kids getting on the state podium."

Being in a smaller school, Thompson has really gotten to know those in the school district.

"You get to know all the kids," Thompson said about teaching in Elmwood. "You know them and all the families. Now I'm teaching kids of the first students I had."

Over the years, Thompson said technology has come a long way. When she started she remembers using the mimeograph and how excited everyone was when the school got a copy machine. Now, most things are available digitally.

Looking back, Thompson said it's hard to believe how much time has passed. She can remember being told to find a job she loved and time would pass quickly; that is exactly what happened.

"It's just hard to believe 32 years have passed," Thompson said.

However, she said she has also been told a person should retire when they are still young enough to go out and do things, so that is what she decided to do. She plans to spend time gardening and riding horses, but she plans to still be involved with the school. Thompson has the option to coach track next year, if she wants. She is still considering that as a possibility and she has other plans to stay involved.

"I do plan to sub, so I will be back," Thompson said.

Even knowing she plans to come back as a sub and maybe as a track coach, retiring is still bittersweet as Thompson will be leaving behind great memories.

"This is like my home away from home here, that's going to be hard," Thompson said. "I'll miss my colleagues. It's been a great place to work."