Retiring teacher has mountain of memories

Linda Morey attended Mountain View and taught there for 34 years

lpemberton@theolympian.comJune 16, 2013 

Mountain View Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Linda Morey is retiring this month after working at the Lacey school for 34 years.

“She’s been part of the community for decades and is an essential and very important element to why Mountain View is a great school,” said Principal Kurt Hatch.

The Olympian talked to Morey, 58, of Lacey, about her career, family and post-retirement plans.

Here are excerpts of the conversation:

Q: Tell us about your special connection with Mountain View and how you got into education.

A: I have a really long history at Mountain View. I attended there as a student, and my sons both went there.

... As a student I always just loved school. It felt like a really great place to be. It felt safe and secure.

I had amazing teachers. ... I just remember sitting in my fourth-grade classroom, thinking, “This is exactly what I want to do with my life.”

I went to Centralia Community College, and transferred to Western Washington University for a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate. I did post-graduate work at Central Washington University.

Right out of college, I applied to go to Australia to teach. However, we decided to stay because I was pregnant with our first son.

I subbed for about a year; I knew it was my foot in the door.

I went ahead and took the long-term sub job at Mountain View, and I’ve been there ever since.

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: I’m married to my second husband, Michael Radach. He works at the Department of Labor and Industries. He’s a Master Gardener.

My oldest son, Ryan, is 34. My youngest son, Derek, died in 2006. He left us with an amazing gift because we have our grandson Liam.

Someday, I’m going to write a book to tell Derek’s story because I want to shine the light on mental illness.

... My parents, Dean and Loretta Morgan, have been an integral part of my students’ lives for many years. They visit my class five to six times throughout each school year sharing stories about their worldwide travels. They bring gifts from around the world, along with fresh fruit and a sweet treat for every child.

In addition, my mom mails a couple dozen postcards to our class, which always include information and questions with an educational focus, along with inspirational words for my students.

Years ago, one of my classes called them Grandma and Grandpa Morgan, and that is what all of my classes have called them since.

Q: What do you like most about teaching?

A: I have to say first and foremost, and this sounds a little cliché, but every year my classroom just becomes a classroom family, and I love that sense of family and community and that it extends out into the school and the actual community.

To me that is such a gift. I’m still in touch with so many of my former students, which is such a blessing. They and their family members have touched my life in countless ways. I don’t know what other profession you find that in.

Q: You’ve won some awards during your career. Tell us about them.

A: I’ve also been so honored and blessed to receive some awards. I was Mountain View’s teacher of the year in 1999, and nominated twice for Disney’s teacher of the year. I wasn’t chosen, but it’s such an honor when families nominate you.

I also was nominated for a Golden Apple Award and included in “Who’s Who of American Educators” four times.

Q: What are some of your students’ favorite activities or traditions in your classroom?

A: We have a class barbecue and pool party at my house every year. I also create a class DVD. I know it means a lot to my students because even former students who are now in their late 30s and early 40s tell me they still watch their DVD — well, VHS tapes in their case — and show them to their children. It’s like a living yearbook.

... I’ve had a long-standing partnership with TwinStar Credit Union. They support the classroom economics (studies) I’ve had in place for years by teaching a couple of finance lessons to my students and providing my students with checkbooks to use in the classroom along with our credit cards and classroom cash my students call “Morey Money.” We have classroom bank tellers, and all of my students have the opportunity to make various banking transactions during our class bank days. They have numerous opportunities to spend and save their money. They learn about debit and credit interest, NSF, etc.

Q: What are your plans after retirement?

I didn’t realize I had a bucket list, but I do.

I definitely have travel plans. I also want to blow the dust off my guitar and piano and get reconnected with my music. It’s been calling me for the last couple of years, and now I’m going to have time to do that. I also love karaoke.

I’ve got a stack of books that need to be read. Most of all I’m just going to treasure having more time with my family.

Q: How has education changed since you became a teacher?

A: I know that we’re competing globally in our quest as a nation, but we in education have become so assessment-driven, so test-driven. We aren’t creating memories or teaching the whole child anymore.

The other countries we want to compete with have a healthy respect for educators. Many of those students attend more hours and more days of the week, in some cases, than we do. … I know people get tired of hearing this, but we do not put as much money into education as so many countries do.

Until we do that, sadly, we can test, test, test our children, but we’re not going to be able to compete in the global market.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?

A: I just want to say that my students are just so amazing. I think one of the greatest gifts — and I tell them this daily — is that I learned from them every day. They have so much to offer and to share.

I would be so remiss if I did not say I am retiring with six other amazing people from Mountain View. I’m honored to be retiring with such a group of wonderful educators.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 @Lisa_Pemberton

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