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    Posted August 25, 2014 by
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    Retired Teacher Shares Advice, Perspective and Reflections with Parents and Students for New School Year

    Former teacher Nora Schleier can still recall the smell of new crayons, construction paper, lead pencils and rubber erasers. While the Buckner Westminster Place resident does not teach anymore, the start of the new school year evokes memories of the 22 years she spent teaching impressionable, eager students in Kilgore and Longview, Texas. Her experiences have left her with solid advice for both parents and children, advice that she happily shares with the start of the new school year approaching.

    "There is no stronger motivation than the support and encouragement of a parent," Schleier says. "It is so important for parents to let their children know how proud they are of them and their academic accomplishments. The effects of positive reinforcement go a long way in driving children to succeed and do their best. It's also important that they let their kids know the importance of respecting their teachers and highlight that their teachers have wisdom and the training necessary to teach them what they need to know. Teachers need support from parents too. They'll receive more respect from their students if the parents make a point to openly respect and back their methods.”

    Schleier believes children should read everything from textbooks, to classic literature, to current event publications, to fiction and nonfiction. She believes reading expands vocabulary, can be thought-provoking, provide perspective on events, people, places and life, and it educates them. She recommends parents start reading books to their children while they are young. Once they enter school, parents should reinforce the benefits and joys of continued reading.

    "As you age, it gets harder to retain information," Schleier says. "Take in as much as you can while you are young. Life is better lived when you keep your brain active, continue to learn new things and apply yourself. I still enjoy keeping my mind active by reading. It has always brought me much pleasure."

    Schleier began her teaching career in Longview at Foster Middle School where she taught science for one year. She spent the next 21 years teaching biology to students at Kilgore High School. When asked what she missed the most, she said she missed building and maintaining relationships with her students. She still runs into them from time to time, and is grateful when they introduce themselves, as they change in appearance over time.

    "It is a good feeling knowing that you made a positive impact on the lives of the students you taught," Schleier says. "I love when students share the ways in which I affected them the most. Sometimes they will tell me things I said that stuck with them, or lessons that they apply to their lives or information pertaining to biology that they retained and think about. Leaving a positive impression on my students was always my goal, and it warms my heart when I see that I've done just that. My students were all wonderful. It is lovely running into them and catching up."

    Schleier earned a teaching degree from Stephen F. Austin University in 1965. Her husband's law partner had convinced her to go back and finish her education. Schleier believes all students should continue their education and pursue a degree from a college or university. She says “you never know what is going to happen in your lifetime, so it is best to be prepared with a degree and a good education.

    "The education system has changed so much since I taught school," Schleier says. "Digital technology has enhanced the classroom and sped up the curriculum and learning possibilities. Sometimes, I feel the classroom is moving too quickly and should be slowed down so students can really take in the material and enjoy what they are learning. I also feel there is too much emphasis on teaching students how to pass standardized tests, as opposed to having fun while teaching them important and interesting subjects.”

    In preparation of the new school year, Buckner Westminster Place will be collecting school supplies for students in the Longview school district. The senior living community is eagerly preparing for the new school year and trying to assist in any way they can. Schleier is excited to participate in these activities and give back to students in a new way.

    "We have quite a few retired teachers that live here at the community," said Wes Wells, executive director of Buckner Westminster Place. "They have sound advice, cute stories and interesting reflections to share about their experiences and the education system. We are happy to give back to the schools that they taught at and get them involved in the volunteer work. We are so fortunate to have residents that have made such a meaningful impact in the lives of others residing at the community. They are a pleasure to talk to and we love hearing their thoughts and stories.”
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