Archive for Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Retired kindergarten teacher relaxes with motorcycles

August 27, 2008

Debby Wedel had an interesting way to relax away stress.

When the pressures of the classroom started getting to the recently retired Tonganoxie Elementary School teacher, she looked for a little two-wheeled therapy.

"My husband caught on to this really quickly," Wedel said. "He would say, 'let's go for a motorcycle ride,' and that seemed to actually calm me down and relax me. That was one of the best things for me was to go somewhere. We're not your typical Harley riders. We're the old mom and pop type. We just enjoy going like that."

During most summers, Wedel and her husband Dennis Wedel would jump on their 1982 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle and take a road trip to somewhere in the United States. Wedel said she needed that time away from the classroom to recharge her batteries so she would be able to give her room full of kindergartners everything they needed to succeed.

But after 29 years of teaching, she thought it was time to step down.

"I really feel so fortunate that I've had so many good years of teaching that I wanted to get out before I and others started to think that I should have retried five years ago," Wedel said. "Teaching kindergarten takes a lot of energy."

Wedel recalled that as soon as August came around, she would start preparing her classroom. But even with a lot of preparations, there were still plenty of changes that needed to be made when school started.

"From September on I loved it, but that first month was always so hard with kindergarten," she said. "You have to help them realize the expectations of the classroom and help them feel happy and secure and safe. Once you got past that they enjoyed school and I enjoyed school."

Wedel noticed that she was working as many hours as when she first started teaching. Often times Wedel would bring home work with her. On some occasions, she would even take work to her dreams.

Wedel described how her husband woke her up one night because she sat up to talk to her students while still asleep.

But even with all of the stress and the work, she said it was all worth it.

"The look on those kids' faces when they read their first word," Wedel said. "The best word that describes it is priceless. You just can't beat that feeling that we helped them get there."

Since her retirement Wedel has been sleeping more soundly and she is getting to do some of the other things she loves, such as spending time with her granddaughter who will turn 2 in September.

She also is working on getting her husband retired by the end of the year so they can continue riding around the country.

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