Janesville Craig, Parker and Milton seniors recently walked across the stage, grabbed their diploma and are planning ’what’s next’ in their lives. It’s been wonderful to read the stories and see the photos in The Gazette. There’s another group of individuals who’ve called those buildings home – and certain members of that group are also plotting ‘what’s next’. That ‘group’ are teachers, aides and administrators. In the Janesville School District we have a large group of teachers who’ve decided to call it a career. While they won’t walk across the stage, they certainly have made an impact on those who have.

I was fortunate to have a number of great teachers while attending Janesville Craig in the late ‘80s. I was in legendary teacher Frank Douglas’s last world geography class, had the privilege of having hall of fame coach Bob Suter as a physical education teacher, and the honor of being taught by Joe Vance in a number of communication technology classes. Mr. Vance really opened my eyes and was my first educational mentor – whether he knew it or not. There was more than book learning. I learned practical life lessons that I needed to put into place shortly after starting college. I veered left when everyone went right, was lost for a bit, and it wasn’t until an unplanned trip back to Craig to talk with Mr. Vance that I started to regain my GPS.

I’m certain the group of recent grads have their list of teachers who’ve made an impact in their lives. As a parent, I was excited to see that my son was able to connect with a teacher in the way that I did as a student. Mrs. Ellenberger, a business education teacher at Craig has made an impact in my soon-to-be Craig junior’s education. She was also ‘in the building’ when I was a student at Craig.

During the last round of parent/teacher conferences Mrs. Ellenberger informed me she was going to retire at the end of the year. My initial reaction was that of joy. I was happy for her. Selfishly, I was bummed. My son’s business class that he was already enrolled in for next year had her name on it…now it didn’t. It took a bit to take a step back and realize that while the teaching profession has changed in ‘what and how’ they do things ONE thing hasn’t and I believe WON’T change – the ability to make an impact. One teacher retiring will allow another one to start, foster relationships and make their own impact.

Mr. Vance, I frequently think about you and thank you for making an impact. Mrs. Ellenberger, as a parent I thank you for investing in your students and for making an impact, and to those just entering the profession you’ll have this opportunity! I’m so thankful that you’ll have the chance.

Who made an impact in your educational career?

Steve Knox was born and raised in Janesville before landing back in the city later in life. This Generation X guy writes on Janesville and beyond. Steve is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.

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