Farewell to retiring teachers: Rhonda Maloney
BC Calculus and Pre-Calculus teacher Rhonda Maloney will be saying goodbye to Plano after 34 years. Years ago, Maloney told the Wildcat Tales that coming to Plano was like coming to heaven.
“I came from a school in which they just stuck me in a room in a temporary building—never got to see anybody, never got any help about what I was supposed to be doing,” Maloney said. “They stuck me teaching all low-level classes, and they didn’t even care whether I did them or not. I did more pregnancy counseling then teaching. When I came here, and it’s still somewhat this way, you were put in a classroom with another teacher, and you taught as a team. You learned from experienced teachers, and you learned ‘the Plano way’. There’s a Plano way, and it’s still a mark of excellence. So coming to Plano was a lot like coming to heaven in that way. It was so much better.”
Maloney has been in Texas, around the DFW area, for all of her life.
“I grew up in this area and I went to DISD schools. I went to Austin for college, and when I graduated from college, I didn’t really want to come back home. You feel like you want to go out on your own. So, I went to Houston. My husband and I ended up moving back to Dallas, but I didn’t want to teach in DISD,” Maloney said. “Plano, 34 years ago, was just little bitty. No one had ever heard of it. I looked at the map and applied everywhere around Dallas. Dr. Dean hired me..”
Maloney said she is happy she ended up here. She has many good memories of Plano, including going to National Merit dinners and dressing up with the rest of the students for movie premiers and theme days.
“I dress up on Halloween. I’ve worn Star Trek uniforms and a Planet of the Apes outfit. I’ve dressed up as McGonagall for the different premiers and stuff. I’m going to miss getting to talk about some of the movies. We’ve dressed up and talked about going to the midnight thing. When I think back to Plano, those are probably the things that I’m going to think back on,” Maloney said. “I’m going to miss getting to play whatever music I want to play in the morning. Mrs. McDaniel said whoever gets this room has to be willing to play it. If you’ve ever been down the hall here, I have the music rocking loud, and I can’t do that as well at home. So I’m going to miss playing the music for the kids.”
Maloney said there were a few reasons for her choosing to retire this year, such as her long commute. However, the main reason is her grandkids. She will be taking care of her youngest grandchild come September.
“I don’t want to stay until people are wanting me to leave. I’ve been around teachers when we were, like, ‘When is she going to quit? When is she going to get out of the way for us younger ones?’” Maloney said. “Now that I’m the older one, I don’t want to be that one they’re pushing out. I don’t want people to watch me grow any older than I’ve already grown. I want to leave while people are still wanting me to stay. And I’m going to come back and sub. I’m going to keep the baby for the first school year, then the little girl will probably go into daycare and then I’ll probably be subbing.”
Maloney said she plans to come back and visit Plano, as well as keep in touch with her students through Facebook. She still gets emails from some telling her about graduations and accomplishments.
“I haven’t always been the poster child of ‘The best teacher in the world’,” Maloney said. “I’ve wanted to be Teacher of the Year and never made it, and that bothered me. Finally, I realized it’s not what other people say I do, it’s the students. They make me feel great. Every day you get someone telling you that you’re great, or you’re wonderful. Of course, some days you also get someone telling you they don’t like you. Usually they don’t because their grades depend on you.”
Maloney said the thing she is going to miss the most about Plano is the student body and the teachers she works with.
“I mean, you don’t teach teenagers for 34 years without wanting to be around them. I always tell everybody ‘I love torturing teenagers’. Today, we got into arguments about religion and homosexuality and stuff like that, and you just can’t do that in the younger grades, and you don’t do it in the workplace,” Maloney said. “There’s something about the classroom that’s kind of liberating that way. I didn’t want to be a teacher. I got my teaching certificate because that’s what everybody does. Once I got in the classroom, though, it was the biggest rush I’ve ever had in my life. It is fun being the boss of a bunch of teenagers. If you enjoy it, it’s the best job in the world. Hey, you guys, go out in the world with honor and hard work and make it a better place than you found it.”