A group mostly of Harbor Heights Elementary School teachers and classified employees has held monthly get-togethers for nine years.
“At first, the group was small, but it keeps growing,” Joan Ahre said.
The members go to a late breakfast on the first day of school in September, and they meet for lunch in different restaurants from October through June. A few times a year, they get together in one of the member’s homes, Ahre said.
The attendees bring one another up to date on what’s happening in school, compare photos of grandchildren, families, trips and even pets. Several are equipped with iPads for these “show and tells,” and some have glossy prints.
They also take field trips together. In June 2011, they attended the Harbor History Museum’s Midway School to experience a 1901 school day with “Miss Abigail Bennett,” the schoolmarm played by member Leann O’Neill.
Some had difficulty getting in and out of the student desks. “Miss Bennett” only “punished” them by putting them in the corner.
They’ve gone to Vashon Island to try out a gluten-free restaurant. At the Point Defiance Zoo, they received a VIP tour because the husband of a member is a docent there, and they got to see the baby Sumatran tigers when they were only a few days old.
Once a year, they attend a Seattle Mariners game, and they usually get tickets because the husband of a member is involved with clubhouse security.
This month’s luncheon had 20 women present for a lunch provided by six members; the rest brought goodies to share.
“We have loved teaching together and retiring together,” Merrie Reardon said. “Our monthly luncheons have been going on for nine years and counting. Great teachers, great friends.”
“We love being together,” Wendy Alexander added. “Since I live in Lakewood, I don’t see anyone except at our monthly get-togethers.”
The group filled O’Neill’s vehicle with donations for the Gig Harbor/Peninsula FISH Food Bank.
“Christmas sweaters were required or, at least, the wearing of red or green,” Ahre said. “Teachers of our vintage typically have many Christmas sweaters, and the newest fad to call them ugly is heart-breaking. A tally taken of years in education showed about 540 years of teaching experience in one room.”
“I’ve loved these women for years,” Carolyn Klemme said. “Working and playing together has always been rewarding. Children nowadays are missing out by not being in a classroom with one of these caring teachers.”
Ahre said those who teach together share a special bond because of the commitment to students, families and the community.
“We have always said, ‘Our product is young lives,’” she said. “We were entrusted with parents’ greatest contribution to eternity: their children. We’ve spent a lot of years together through engagements, marriages, children, their weddings and now grandchildren.
“With a past rich in memories, a present that was sometimes challenging but always adventurous and rewarding, we are proud to say we spent our careers with the future.”