Judy Berry, a devote Brett Favre fan, joked that she would retire when ol' number four hung up the cleats. That time has long passed, but she's certain this will be her last year at Shady Lane Elementary School. She also promised she's not planning to pull a "Brett Favre."
Berry has been teaching for 49 years, and spent 42 years Menomonee Falls. Patch sat down with her to ask 10 questions about her career:
If you could have had one other job other than teaching, what would it have been?
“My friend and I in college wanted to be nurses, but we decided we couldn’t stand the sight of blood. Teaching was the only thing that really interested me. I can name any teacher I’ve ever had, and I always played school when I was a kid.”
What’s the first thing you want to do in your retirement?
“I’m going to come back and volunteer. I really am…I have no plans except to come back here and spend time with the kids. I want to work with kids, so that’s what I’m going to do. I have all kinds of ideas for projects that teachers just don’t have time to do. Maybe relax a little bit!”
How many apples have you received over your 49 years as a teacher?
“Candy is what’s given now. We get a lot of candy, but I haven’t received too many apples.”
What’s the most inspiring thing one of your past students did in or out of the classroom?
“One of my students – they all do wonderful things – has become a doctor at Froedtert. I think I inspired him to become that. Seeing kids grow up, and what they can do with their life, is amazing.”
What is one life lesson you’ve learned from your students over the years?
“They teach me all about computers. I am not the computer whiz that I should be. Just today I asked one of my students to come up and show me how to do something.”
What’s been the biggest change in the teaching profession from when you started to today?
“We are teaching so much more now. When I started we taught math, reading, and phonics. Now we have so much science and social studies. There have been so many things brought into the curriculum.”
How often do you bump into former students?
“I see them occasionally. I keep in contact with some through letters. Right now, I have a student in the classroom, and I had his father in fourth grade. His dad has kept all the report cards and letters from me when I was his teacher.”
What will you miss most about this job?
“Just working with the kids and seeing the progress they make. All of a sudden things click in their minds. This has been my room for 35 years, this has been my room since 1985. Now I need to turn in my badge and key? Each day is getting a little tougher. I’m still agonizing over the decision.”
What makes Menomonee Falls special in your eyes?
“We’ve got good kids and families here. It’s a nice place to raise children. I don’t have any children myself, these are my kids.”
Pretend this is the last lesson you will teach in your profession, what is something you want embark on every student?
“I want them to love learning. I want them to be motivated, to do more, to achieve more. And they can, if they want to. I wish I could have reached every child I worked with, but I can’t. I just want them to do the best they can, and always strive for more.”