I am a high school librarian and a former classroom teacher with 34 years in education. On Jan. 30, in an Advocate article about the increase in teacher retirement numbers, Superintendent of Education John White was quoted as saying “the teachers who are leaving are more likely to be ineffective.”

I am retiring on May 24, and, according to the new evaluation plan, I am a “highly effective” teacher. I have served as a mentor to new teachers and represented my school as Teacher of the Year. White’s statement was a slap in the face to all retiring teachers, and we are owed an apology.

In another recent Advocate article, it was reported that it is mainly the older teachers who are complaining about the new evaluation plan. You know what? That statement is exactly correct, and here’s why. These experienced teachers have been through STARR, LATIP, LATAAP and now COMPASS. We’ve seen them come and we’ve seen them go, and every time the Department of Education has thrown something at us, we have adapted.

During this time, not only have I been a dedicated educator, but I did it while sponsoring cheerleaders, the dance team, the Beta Club, the Just Say No Club and the Book Club. I have been a member of the School Improvement Team and the committee that prepared my school for evaluation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

I have headed the homecoming committee, chaired the United Way drive, kept afternoon detentions, worked the gates at athletic events and given ACT tests on Saturday mornings. Did I have to do these things? No but by doing these things, I developed a connection with my students that carried over into the classroom.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Superintendent White are not chasing me out. I’m just worn out.

Would I do it all over again? Absolutely. Even with everything our governor and his henchmen have done to devalue and demoralize educators, I don’t regret one moment of the last 34 years. I’ve met some incredible teachers and made some lifelong friends. Even more importantly, I’ve played a tiny part in the lives of hundreds of young people who have turned into some amazing adults.

Former students have worked on my car, given me shots in a doctor’s office, figured my income taxes, and I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing some of my former students become my teaching peers. At the end of a long career, what better reward could a person ask for than that?

As for those teachers I am leaving behind, hang in there because this, too, shall pass. Gov. Jindal will leave office, Superintendent White will disappear into the sunset, and the hamster wheel will keep on turning.

Patti Bewick

Walker High School librarian