Retiring English teacher reflects on 37 years at Plano

Kaitlin Humphrey, Staff Writer

After 37 years of teaching at Plano, English teacher Mary Stanton will retire this year. She received her degree from University of Colorado and began her career as a teacher in Colorado.

Stanton, who enjoyed going to school, decided to follow what she was good at and continued her path in English.

“I always had to stay after school for talking too much,” Stanton said. “I guess it’s kind of payback now because I have students who can’t be quiet in class. I think, ‘that’s the way I was.’ I love teaching my subject. I’m a believer in students knowing the literature of their country and connecting it with history.”

Stanton has never taught below the 10th-grade grade level and said she enjoys teaching high school aged students. She has taught junior English more often than senior English.

“They’re almost adults,” Stanton said. “I like that I’m able to treat my students as adults for the most part.”

Stanton’s least favorite part of teaching is the time it takes to read and grade her students’ essays. Because of the extensive amount of time consumed in grading papers and her love for teaching, Stanton is torn over her decision to retire.

“It’s actually one of the reasons why I’m retiring,” Stanton said. “I can hardly grade papers anymore. It takes one day every weekend. I’ll normally spend all day Sunday just grading papers, so that’s a bad thing. I’ve even told my students that if I could come here, go into the room, teach, leave, get in my car and go home, then I would. It’s just all the other stuff, like grading essays and the lack of free time.”

Although Stanton has no specific plans for after she retires, she would like to spend more time with her granddaughters, volunteer in their elementary school’s library and travel more often.

“I can’t wait for the freedom it will bring,” Stanton said. “ I think it will be nice to get up when I want to, pour a cup of coffee, watch the Today show or Good Morning America and then go ‘it’s 9 a.m., I better get ready.’ We’ve been moving to a bell here, but I think it will be pretty interesting to not move to the bell anymore.”

Throughout Stanton’s time at Plano, there have been multiple changes made to the school.

“Most students don’t know what it was like here at Plano 37 years ago,” Stanton said. “I feel like I’m kind of a keeper of the history. For example, there’s an urban legend surrounding Duck Week that Plano East hung our ducks, or Plano West came and killed our ducks. But actually, we have Duck Week because Plano West doesn’t have ducks. It’s kind of like an in-your-face; we have ducks and they have a fountain that doesn’t work.”

Along with the school, the type of students has also changed over 37 years.

“When I first came here, there was no East and no West,” Stanton said. “It was just us. We had everyone. There were farming kids from way out in Parker; we had the kids from over in the eastern inner city part of Plano. I was here when it was over-capacitated, and the hallways would just be in total gridlock. In every class there were 35 kids. It was really different having a smoking area for students. I still can’t believe it; I had taught before and had never seen anything like it. It didn’t last very long though.”

Stanton will miss teaching her students and the interaction with different age groups.

“I will probably miss the students the most,” Stanton said. “I think that teaching keeps you young. The last thing I’ll ever do is go to one of those retirement places where there is nothing but old people because I think being around different generations keeps me younger. I like being around students and talking to them.”

Stanton said teachers appreciate personal notes and feedback from their students. Stanton also continues to keep contact with former students on Facebook.

“I think there’s always things teachers keep,” Stanton said. “I like the feedback because yes, I want my students to do well. I still stay in contact with some of my students I had years ago, and it’s really nice to hear from them. I remember students not necessarily because they were good students, but because they just had those memorable personalities.”