by Will McClure
With tears in the eyes of friends, faculty, students and family, Nancy Clifton had her official last day as a teacher for Oliver Elementary last Tuesday. The faculty and staff threw a retirement party to celebrate the career of Mrs. Clifton as well as reminisce on humorous stories and all of the lives she touched throughout her career. Oliver Principal Greg London remarked how much of an impact Clifton left on academic success, being a constant over the years along with the hard work the entire Oliver faculty puts in. He noted that it would be tough to fill the void left behind, but will keep her on “speed dial” as the transition process moves along. Susan Mueller stated that she probably never would have come out of her classroom if it was not for Clifton and how, at one point, Clifton gave her a card that said “God said go on,” which allowed Mueller to keep moving forward.
After more stories, some humorous and involving dancing to music and waiting out a supposed tornado drill when the bells were not fixed after Daylight Savings Time, everyone laughed and celebrated the career of Nancy Clifton. During the festivities, Clifton was able to sit down for a few minutes and discuss her career and plans after retirement.
When asked about her 26 year career at Oliver, Clifton stated that it has been quite journey ever since she began teaching, and it has been very rewarding for her. She noted how she began working with children with dyslexia in 1999, saying how rewarding it has been to see these kids who have struggled with reading eventually grasp reading concepts and grow to enjoy reading. She also noted how her former students and even their parents would return to just thank her for all of her hard work, taking the comments to heart and allowing her to continue to love what she has done.
“Teaching is hard work, though. It really is,” Clifton said, “a lot of people think teachers get out all summer and you don’t have to work all the time and you’re just up there with kids. How could it be that hard? But it really is hard work. I’ve been privileged to work in a school that really cares about each other. The teachers care about each other, they care about the kids and they work hard. All of them are really hard workers. We’ve seen some real success because everyone is really dedicated.”
Although she has faced some challenges with changing curriculum and how students learn, Clifton stated that she is optimistic about the way students will be able to adapt to the learning environment. She noted how the classroom has become more student-driven as they use new technologies to learn and grow during their academic career. She sees changing technologies as the future for education as platforms that students are accustomed to, such as iPads, are being integrated into the curriculum and teachers channel those technologies into learning opportunities. As for her own future plans, Clifton expressed a desire to explore her family history, noting that there are a couple of “mysteries” that she had been working on and will now have some more time to dig deeper. She mentioned a place in Colorado that she and her husband have visited many times that features the site of an airplane crash from World War II in which her second cousin’s husband was involved in the crash itself. Her growing interest in her family history, along with travel plans to destinations such as Alaska, proves that she will continue to be busy, but will make plenty of time for her family, especially her three grandchildren who are Oliver students.
No matter where her future may take her, Nancy Clifton is grateful and blessed for her many years at Oliver Elementary and knows that there is a hard-working faculty that will continue the tradition. For now, she is happy for a career well spent and offered words of wisdom to the younger faculty members: “Don’t give it up, it’s a good life.” Thank you, Nancy Clifton, for all of your years of caring, dedication and hard work and good luck in all of your future endeavors!