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Teacher Reep retires

Press Photo by Nadya Faulx Retiring Lincoln Elementary teacher Pam Reep sits in her classroom on May 14, one of her last days at the school.

If you were to walk past Pam Reep’s first-grade classroom at Lincoln Elementary, you’d most likely catch her surrounded by students, reading a book to them — “The Boxcar Children” or maybe “Charlotte’s Web,” two of her favorites.

That’s how Principal Tammy Praus said she most remembers Reep, at least.

“Visiting her classroom, Pam either has the students circled around her on the carpet, reading to them, or working with them,” said Praus, who has known Reep for years and worked with her for two. “She always engaged with her students in some type of activity.”

This week marked the end of Reep’s 35-year teaching career, all but two of which she spent in first-grade classrooms.

“Those years have gone by so quickly,” she said.

Coming from a family of educators — two of her brothers and several nieces and nephews are in the field, as is her husband, Dickinson Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Vince Reep — Reep said she had always wanted to be a teacher since graduating from high school in Stanley in 1974.

“First grade was always where I wanted to be,” she said. “I love to watch them learn to read. It’s very rewarding.”

Reep said her favorite memories of teaching will be “the first time a child reads ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ or ‘The Cat in the Hat.’ That’s always so special.”

From her colorful, cluttered classroom, filled with shelves of books, posters and kids’ drawings, Reep has seen how much education has evolved since she started as a teacher, from books to Nooks. With new technology and North Dakota’s recently adopted Common Core standards, she said “it’s a whole new way of teaching” that’s she’s worked to keep up with, putting in extra hours to learn how to use interactive SMART boards and tablets.

“Pam has definitely been a leader across our building,” Praus said, and “a big part of developing our professional learning community. She’s very dedicated to her students.

“One of the absolute greatest things that I remember about Pam is her desire to connect to her students’ learning.”

Kris Fehr, president of the Dickinson Public School Board, said Reep is “well respected” throughout the district.

“It brings her a lot of happiness to see students be successful,” she said. “That’s the mark of a good teacher.”

Praus got an emotional send-off from students and staff Thursday at the school’s end-of-the-year assembly. As a mentor to the new generation of teachers coming to Lincoln — some of whom, she said, haven’t even been alive as long as she’s been teaching — Reep will leave behind a lasting legacy at the school.

Reep said that though she has “enjoyed every bit of” her more than three decades working with Dickinson Public Schools, “it just felt like it was the right time” to move on.

“Everybody told me, ‘You’re gonna know when you need to retire,’” she said. “And this fall, I just felt like, you know, things aren’t as fun as they used to be.

“I’m ready for a little less — something that’s a little less demanding,” she said. “I don’t think people realize that you’re dealing with 20 little lives and 20 personalities.”

Reep said she plans to stay involved in the field by volunteering at the school, subbing and tutoring.

Even with the challenges of being responsible for so many young children eight hours a day, Reep said that if she had do it all over, she would still choose teaching.

“You get a brand new start every year,” she said. “And that’s a really nice thing about teaching. You get a fresh start every year with new kids and new ideas.

“I always thought, ‘What other jobs do you really get to totally clean your desk off and start over?’”

Reep isn’t the only member of the Lincoln family leaving this year: the school is also losing its long-time administrative assistant, Kathie Carlson, a woman Praus called the “queen bee” of Lincoln Elementary.

“She’s been a backbone of our school,” Praus said. “She’s just been there for the teachers. She’s the lady who has the answers.”

Carlson is retiring after 31 years with Dickinson Public Schools.