Teacher graduates, again, from Wellington schools
Organizing the annual veterans breakfast, educating thousands of kids, and even reenacting American wars through Capture the Flag… all in a career’s worth of work for Beth Workman.
After 37 years, Workman has retired from teaching social studies for the Wellington School District.
A native of Wellington, Workman taught for more than 37 years, subbing out of college, teaching briefly at Black River, spending 10 years educating at Westwood Elementary and the rest at McCormick Middle School.
After graduating from Wellington High School, Workman attended Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Ohio, where she received a degree in elementary education, grades 1-8.
Unable to find the permanent position she desired, Workman was elated when the third-grade position became available at Westwood.
“I lived right next door to Westwood, which was nice,” Workman said.
In 1974 Workman married Wayne Workman, the man who, when they first met at age 14, said that day would come.
“I was playing wiffle ball in my driveway, and a neighbor kid brought him (Wayne) over. He said as soon as he saw me that I was the one,” Workman said.
Years later they were married at a Baptist church in Wellington.
Workman and Wayne had four children together: Morgan, Marikate, Jordan and Hannah, all two years apart in age.
“When my third kid came, I was able to go half-time for 10 years and I only taught afternoons,” Workman said.
The children attended the Wellington school system, and Workman had three of her kids in class, as well as nieces and nephews.
“Funny story, one time I asked my son if he did his homework. He told me, ‘No, I didn’t do it.’ So I told him, well, then you have to stay after school tomorrow. And he said, ‘Wait, mom, are you giving me a detention at home?’” Workman said.
Workman recalled many funny memories from her time at McCormick.
“Oh there was the one time I fell flat on my face, the kids loved that. I tripped over an extension cord with heels on, and down I went,” Workman said.
“Some of my students would tell me that they were going to be famous. So I took their signatures. I’m still waiting for the signatures to be worth a lot,” Workman said.
There have been many great memories in the McCormick building, but Workman acknowledged the structure needs to be replaced.
“The steps are dangerous. We have to open windows in the winter and in the summer, if it’s 80 degrees outside, it’s 90 in here (McCormick). There is a lot of sentimentality for this building. My father graduated here. But it’s time,” Workman said.
One of the out-of-classroom benefits for Workman has been seeing the kids around town.
“I truly have loved it here; it’s so hard to leave. At the reservoir, some kid I didn’t even know said hello to me. He knew me because a classmate told him about me. It is a nice feeling,” Workman said.
Looking back on her teaching career, Workman only had one regret.
“I was a tough third-grade teacher. That was the style back then. We read ‘Don’t Smile Until Christmas,’ and things like that. I’m glad I changed,” Workman said.
Workman’s teaching style change allowed her to apply for and receive an endowment grant for the History Alive books, which combined physical interaction with historical facts.
“If my students see me in my front yard with my kids, I’m playing Capture the Flag,” Workman said, alluding to the History Alive game where the students would reenact wars through Capture the Flag on McCormick’s front lawn.
The growth of technology is good for education, Workman believes, once it is implemented correctly.
“We just don’t know how to use it correctly yet. We tell kids to put away their cell phones, when someday they (phones) will be a part of the classroom,” Workman said.
The veterans breakfast, an annual event where 40-50 veterans come to the school for free food and recognition, was organized by Workman.
“It teaches the eighth graders how to shake hands, start a conversation. They all interview a veteran and then write an essay on it,” Workman said.
Workman is looking forward to spending time with her husband at home, going snowshoeing, and spending time with the kids.
“Wellington is a great place to live and work. Been here a long time and don’t plan on leaving. Well, maybe I’ll leave so people don’t see me get older,” Workman said.
by ADAM FOX