Wednesday Jun 09 2010
Elementary teaching icons call it a career
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
Ferguson, Newton leave with 75 years of teaching experience
Editor’s note: This first installment of a two-part series highlights the careers of retiring Loomis Union School District teachers Lou Ferguson and Debbie Newton. See next week’s Loomis News to read about retirees Kathy Gosch, Marie Mulvany and Peggy Stare. Wednesday marked the last day of school for elementary students, graduation for eighth-graders and the last day of work for some legendary Loomis teachers. Lou Ferguson and Debbie Newton are among the Loomis Union School District teachers who said goodbye to their students, classrooms and teaching careers. Also retiring are Kathy Gosch, Marie Mulvany and Peggy Stare. Lou Ferguson, a teaching icon at Placer Elementary School, is retiring after 39 years in the classroom. Ferguson said he’s taught almost every grade, but second-grade is his favorite. “The children (second-graders) are so excited about learning. They come with a smile. They’re very creative and they laugh at my jokes,” he said. Ferguson’s claim to fame is that he’s worked with every single Placer School principal. But it almost didn’t come to be. As a young man, Ferguson said he wanted to be a pilot, but didn’t qualify. His father wanted him to be a lawyer. “I loved working with children,” the Loomis Union School District’s most senior teacher said. Ferguson earned his college degree then served in the National Guard. Once out, he de-cided to drive up Interstate 80 from his home in Roseville and apply for teaching jobs as he went. The Loomis district offered him a job after learning he could play guitar. The same day he accepted that position, Rocklin’s school district called to offer him a job. “I’m so glad I accepted the job here over Rocklin. Our district is incredible. Loomis is special,” he said. The instructor said many of his former students have become his life long friends. “The children enter my class as students and leave as friends, as family,” he said. “Almost every year I have the child of a former student,” Ferguson said. Ferguson has seven children and 11 grandchildren all living in the area. He said during his retirement he plans to volunteer in his grandchildren’s classrooms. “Placer School parents are just fantastic about helping. Now, it’s my turn,” he said. Debbie Newton In her 36 years of teaching, Debbie Newton has seen many changes. Newton said she started teaching in Roseville in 1974, before moving to the Loomis district. “Back then there was no technology, everything was done by hand,” the retiree said. “We did a lot more of the arts. We had more time to make up a play and perform it,” she said. Newton said if kids misbehaved they had to stay after school, and “we didn’t even have to call their parents.” She also noted that when children left school they went home and played outside or read. Newton laments that there is now more pressure on students and teachers as standardized testing has increased. Newton said she switched districts 18 years ago and started at Franklin Elementary School where her three children – Taylor, Morgan and Evin – were students. “We lived in Loomis and I wanted to be closer to my children, so I took a pay cut and went to work for the Loomis district,” Newton said. During her Loomis tenure, Newton said she taught every grade except first and second and spent time at Loomis Grammar School as head teacher and assistant principal. She said she transferred to H. Clarke Powers Elementary School when it opened 10 years ago and for the past two years has worked with at-risk students to improve their reading and math skills. She said her favorite grade to teach is sixth. “I like their personalities. They can be independent and they get my sarcasm, but they’re still more interested in the teacher,” Newton said. Newton said during retirement she plans to improve the nursery she operates with her husband, Al, who is a Del Oro High School teacher and is also retiring. She also plans to bicycle, try new recipes, garden and spend more time with her four grandchildren. She said she hopes to work part time teaching classes and supervising student teachers. “Teaching is a great career. You feel like you give to society. It feels good to be a teacher,” she said.