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Jan Young

Retired teacher passes knowledge to newbies

Retired teacher passes knowledge to newbies

May 18, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WILLIAMSPORT -- After 33 years of teaching, Jan Young was ready for some free time.

But not too much of it.

"I still wanted a connection," said Young, who retired two years ago from Washington County Public Schools.

Looking back on her career, she realized one of her favorite parts of the job was helping inspire student teachers to stay with it and to want to make a difference in children's lives.

So Young, 59, of Williamsport, became a part-time mentor for the school system's new-teacher mentoring program.

"It's wonderful, because I try to make a difference to these teachers. And, in turn, they will make a difference to the children," Young said.

She spends 10 to 12 hours each week sitting in on classes taught by first- and second-year teachers and meeting with them one-on-one during their planning periods to offer feedback, suggestions and a sympathetic ear.

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"With 33 years of experience, I've seen all kinds of behavior problems, so I can help a little bit with some suggestions," Young said.

"And, you know, I think sometimes it's just refreshing when we can sit and talk."

Young is part of a mentoring team that includes eight full-time mentors.

On a recent Wednesday morning, Young watched Hickory Elementary School teacher Alesia Forsyth explain probability to her fifth-graders in terms of their chances of pulling a candy bar out of a bag versus pulling out a piece of fruit.

"I (heart) your real-world examples," Young scrawled on a yellow feedback sheet.

Forsyth, 29, said she always looks forward to reading her mentor's comments.

"When Jan puts that yellow paper on my desk, when I get a free minute, I'm over there and I'm reading it right away because I love her ideas," Forsyth said. "She has the experience, and she gives me really insightful ideas and creative things that I can use."

Some of those ideas are familiar to Forsyth, who had Young as her fourth-grade teacher 19 years ago at Lincolnshire Elementary School.

Even then, Young played a big role in inspiring Forsyth for her career, she said. Young instilled in her students a love of learning that made them want to go out in the world and keep reading and asking questions, Forsyth said.

"She instilled that in me, so I hope I'm the same when I'm working with the kids," Forsyth said.

Forsyth isn't the only familiar face Young sees at Hickory. After spending most of her teaching career at Lincolnshire, Young taught first grade at Hickory from 2005-07. Now, students she taught as first-graders wave and say, "Hi, Mrs. Young!" as she walks through the hallways.

Getting to see them and knowing she is helping build the next generation of inspirational teachers made retiring a little easier, Young said.

"I think I still need a goal or purpose in my day, and I just still find that in mentoring," she said.

Q&A with Jan Young



Resides in: Williamsport

Occupation: Retired teacher

Q: What is your proudest moment?

A: In her personal life, Young said her proudest moments were the births of her son and daughter. In her career, her proudest moment was being nominated by one of her classes for the county's Teacher of the Year award. The students wrote a poem about how she made learning fun, she said. She was in the county's top five for the award that year.

Q: Whom do you most admire, and why?

A: Young said she most admires her mother, who worked as a nurse. "She was able to give us a wonderful, wonderful childhood, but she was outstanding in her career." She also admires her mother-in-law, Shirley Young, for her positive spirit as she battled cancer.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received, and who gave it to you?

A: "I guess the best piece of advice that I have received, and I try to pass on to my children, is to always be yourself, and to believe in yourself. I think that was probably from my dad."

Q: What is the next goal you would like to achieve?

A: Young said she is looking forward to becoming a grandmother in June, when her son and daughter-in-law are expecting a girl. "I want to be able to spend a lot of time and be the kind of grandma that my own mother was to my two children."

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