A legacy of learning: Dickinson's Becky Meduna reflects on 42 years in educationAs students count down the days until classes are dismissed for the year, Jefferson Elementary School Principal Becky Meduna is finishing year-end meetings and reports.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
As students count down the days until classes are dismissed for the year, Jefferson Elementary School Principal Becky Meduna is finishing year-end meetings and reports.
Meduna has served the school district for 42 years — the longest among the 34 teachers and staff who have submitted their resignations from the Dickinson Public School District.
“We’ve been busy — it’s been a time of mixed feelings,” Meduna said. “Five of us will be retiring from Jefferson.”
She is looking forward to the Dickinson Public Schools’ staff and retirement recognition program on Wednesday. The program is 7 p.m. in the Dickinson High School Auditorium.
“It’s an opportunity for the School Board and administration to show an appropriate response to all the people who have served the schools and community throughout their career,” Superintendent of Schools Doug Sullivan said.
This week is being observed as Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week.
The week is an opportunity for the community to demonstrate their appreciation, not only to the retirees, but all the individuals who serve the children in the community, he said.
In speaking with prior administrators, Sullivan said he doesn’t recall the district having such a large number of retirements and resignations in one year.
“We’re looking at a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge,” he said. “Filling the positions has been difficult. Our biggest loss is the people and the experience they bring to the schools and what they have done for the children.”
Sullivan said the district has strong procedures in the district for recruitment.
“We’re very pleased with the individuals we have lined up for next year,” he said.
Meduna started her career in education in 1970, after graduating from Trinity High School and attending Dickinson State University.
She taught spring semester at Sidney, Mont., then taught at Gladstone Elementary combined classrooms of grades 4 and 5.
“We were very close-knit, and I think a lot of the teachers seemed to get started in Gladstone,” she said.
After a year at Gladstone, she worked nine years at Roosevelt, teaching grade four. In 1980, she transferred to Jefferson where she taught 17 years.
She enrolled at the University of Mary to pursue a master’s degree.
“I did that and the rest is history,” she said.
Meduna served as principal at Berg Elementary for 17 years, and in 2005, came to Jefferson as its principal.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re the principal or the teacher — the focus is on the kids,” she said. “The most important part of my job is to help kids grow as individuals.”
She said the reward of education is watching students grow and becoming successful.
As principal, she worked side-by-side with the teachers, ensuring they had the resources available in the classroom.
“It’s all about collaboration, working together,” she said.
As technology became available, Jefferson integrated it into the classroom.
“It was not just about the keyboard, it was about using the Internet to provide extra resources and to enhance instruction in the classroom,” she said.
The school obtained Ipads for the students and Promethean boards, a white board that is linked to the Internet. In addition to the computer lab, Jefferson has a mobile computer lab, Meduna said.
“We are constantly seeking new strategies by taking classes and study groups,” she added.
Meduna credited the parents for taking an active role in the education of their children.
“It’s about a relationship between the teachers and students, the school staff and parents working together to create an environment in which all kids can succeed,” she said.
Meduna is confident the students are in the capable hands of incoming educators.
“We have a new batch of teachers who are coming in with excitement and enthusiasm of getting into the classroom,” she said. “Plus, they are more tech savvy, most are coming in with technical experiences we didn’t have.”
Meduna is looking forward to taking time to spend with her family. Her husband, Jim, also retired last week, and they anticipate traveling.