This item was produced by a reporter in the Schieffer School of Journalism's Basic Reporting class.
Peggy Crowder taught in the same classroom for 40 years at St. Andrew Catholic School, but the classroom will not be what she misses the most after retiring this year.
“I really will miss the kids,” Crowder, a St. Andrew second-grade teacher, said. “I keep having these cheerful moments when we’re doing something with the kids and I go, ‘Oh gosh, I won’t be here to do that.’”
Crowder said as much as she loved teaching, the 40 years of paperwork finally got a little tiring. At her age, she has to dedicate a lot of time when using the computer and sifting through paperwork, so she made the bittersweet decision to retire.
Crowder’s time at St. Andrew has impacted the school, faculty and students greatly, St. Andrew second-grade teacher Christina Cornevin said, who has taught with Crowder for the past four years.
Crowder attended an all-girls college in her hometown of Kansas City, MS called Avila College, now known as the co-ed Avila University, Crowder said. She later attended TCU for her master’s degree in education.
Unlike most teachers, Crowder never switched from teaching second grade throughout her entire career. Since she started at St. Andrew, she went through six different principals and most of them asked her if she wanted to move to another grade, she said.
However, Crowder never thought twice about switching. She fell in love with second grade after doing her assistant teaching with second-graders.
“I loved it from day one and I never wanted to change,” she said.
Teaching the same grade every year did not stop Crowder from changing things up, she said. Every year a whole different classroom of students came in, so she always based her teaching methods off the groups of students she had.
This kind of devotion to the students is one of the biggest things that set Crowder apart from other teachers, Veronica Tucker, counselor at St. Andrew and former student of Crowder, said.
“She’s probably the most dedicated person on our staff,” she said. “She eats lunch at her desk so she can work with kids that are struggling with things.”
Not only did Crowder help the students academically, but she also influenced students’ and even the faculty’s lives spiritually, Cornevin said. Crowder put the prayers together for faculty meetings and taught her students a song with specific motions for mass each year.
“That’s something that’s really important,” she said. “She’s bringing a spiritual light into the classroom and it’s something that the kids are taking with them along the way.”
Crowder said that if the students could take this “spiritual light” with them for the rest of their lives, then she could walk away from the school feeling successful.
Students tend to remember their middle school and high school teachers the most, but Crowder said she hopes that she at least touched her students in a spiritual way.
“If there was something with their faith, maybe that I have left them with and that they could carry through in their adult life, when things get hard or difficult, and they could remember what I said to them, that would mean a lot to me,” she said.
Teaching at a Catholic school gave her the ability to share a religion, talk about it with the students and discuss morals. The religious atmosphere and the love and support that they all give each other are amazing, Crowder said.
The school had an event May 6 to celebrate Crowder’s years of teaching. The event included speeches by former teachers and principals and a song by the second-graders at St. Andrew, Cornevin said.
After her last day of school this year, Crowder said she does not know what is next for her. Everyone asks her what her plans are, but Crowder is keeping her mind open to many options.
Crowder and her husband have always talked about travelling, she said. She would also like to do volunteer work at Cook’s Children’s Hospital, possibly take elective classes at TCU and spend more time with her 94-year-old mother.
“I’m just going to see what’s out there,” she said. “Maybe I’ll pursue some new interests and find some things in life I didn’t even know I would like to do. I’m excited.”
Of course, she will still run up to St. Andrew every once in a while, she said. She could never just vanish from a school that has been her life since she was in her 20s.
“It’s been my home for so many years,” she said. “It’s hard to think about not going there.”