Finishing second

Published 7:15 am Friday, January 29, 2010

Dorothy Krob knows what it takes to be a great teacher.

She has spent 27 years perfecting her craft. When she retires this spring, Krob will leave her legacy with a generation of students who have graduated from her classroom.

“This is my last class. After 27 years of the best job ever — 18 in second grade — it is time to give another educator the opportunity to teach at Southgate,” Krob said.

Krob plans to pursue her business, Turtle Creek Cards, full-time upon retirement, spending any free time writing a book entitled, “The Last Class, Advice to New and Continuing Teachers from a Retiring Teacher.”

The book will address classroom management ideas, discipline, humor, and “dead” innovations and will be influenced by her own philosophy of teaching — which is to create a classroom that represents each student’s home away from home.

Krob’s teaching philosophy includes a recipe for a great teacher, the ingredients of which one can see in action by visiting her class.

Krob said a successful teacher has a caring heart, the endurance of a marathon runner, a keen sense of humor, a devotion to making lessons challenging and a goal of providing a sense of accomplishment for each student.

She tries to exude each of these elements in her day-to-day work in the classroom.

Thursday, Krob’s students had bright watercolor paintings of dragons hanging in the hallway. These were completed during a Friday art lesson, as part of their Chinese New Year unit of study. Krob explained that she prefers teaching in units, where various academic disciplines collide into one theme. During the Chinese New Year unit, students learned history, geography and cultural customs before completing their art project.

Other units explored this month have included penguins, The Pony Express and the telegraph and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I just want to take them on an adventure in learning,” she explained of the methodology. “I want to give them the interest and skills to really fly.”

There is more to Krob’s teaching style than adventure and academics. Valuing students and teaching them character is as important as the course content, she said.

Teachers, she explained, have an obligation to instill a healthy sense of self-esteem in all students.

This is one reason she teaches art once a week, so that students who do not excel at certain subjects will discover their other talents.

“I really like her a lot,” said 7-year-old Mauricio Aguilar of his teacher. “My favorite part of the day is playing chess… and learning my pluses too.”

Krob’s students are all taught to play chess by school board member, Kathy Green, on Fridays. Green started the tradition years ago when she had a daughter in Krob’s class.

“The majority of students even choose to play chess during their daily free-time,” Krob said.

This culture of collaboration among instructors is one thing Krob said she will miss about Southgate.

“This is an exceptional school because of wonderful staff, students and parents, “ she said. “It’s been such a gift to work with such talented people.”

Though she is now eager to focus on her card company and work on her writing, Krob said she is sad that she won’t be able to create a home away from home for a new group of students next fall.

Still, having been invited to the graduation parties and weddings of her former elementary students, she can rest assured that her influence on classes past will live on.

Krob explained, “Teaching is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding jobs ever.”