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Four Williamsport educators embarking on retirement journey

May 11, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

WILLIAMSPORT -- Jeanne "Dusty" Graham joked that she's going out in a "blaze of glory."

Graham, one of four Williamsport High teachers retiring at the end of the school year, accidentally caused a fire on one of the stoves in her family consumer science class this school year.

She left a box on top of a stove, the oven below which recently had been turned off.

She turned the incident into a teaching moment, quizzing her students on what she did wrong and what she did right, which included her proper use of a fire extinguisher.

For Graham, math teacher Bob Hose and English teacher Karla Davis, the decision to retire came because it was time, they said.

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For Debbie Tabler, it wasn't supposed to be time.

Tabler was going to retire in two years. Those plans changed last fall after her husband, Jim, died suddenly at their Bedington, W.Va., farm.

She now has to care for her parents and mother-in-law, in addition to spending time with two granddaughters.

Graham wants to take piano lessons again, and has a new granddaughter she wants to help care for, as her son-in-law will head back to Afghanistan with the Army in June.

Davis, 63, of Hagerstown, also has a granddaughter and another grandchild on the way. She said she'll probably tutor private-school students.

Hose, 57, plans to continue teaching math at Hagerstown Community College, where he began working last fall.

With the lighter teaching schedule, he and his wife, Janice, will be able to spend more time outdoors gardening, biking, hiking and camping.

Hose said he became a math teacher because he liked the subject's precision.

"At one time, I thought I wanted to be a chemistry teacher, but I kept fouling up the chemistry experiments," Hose said.

Hose injects humor in his classes, telling jokes about his fictitious "uncle," while Davis incorporates poetry into hers.

For at least 15 years, she has had poet Crystal Brown visit her students for a week to work with them on reading, writing and analyzing poetry, Davis said.

Davis has taught in the school system for 30 years, including nine at Williamsport High and 14 years at Boonsboro Middle. She also has taught adult education, home instruction and English to students whose primary language wasn't English.

While Davis moved around a lot as a youth because her father was in the Army, the other three teachers grew up in the Tri-State area.

Hose has lived on the same South End street in Hagerstown his entire life, having moved across the street into his grandparents' former home.

Tabler grew up in Martinsburg, W.Va., graduating from Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School in 1975.

Tabler, 52, is in her 13th year teaching at Williamsport High. Before that, she taught for 17 years at Clear Spring High School. Tabler has taught mainly math, but taught computer science in the 1980s, she said.

Graham, 59, moved to the area for her fifth-grade year at Fountaindale Elementary and graduated from North Hagerstown High in 1969. She taught at Western Heights Middle School for 25 years before spending the last six years at Williamsport High.

Hose taught all 36 years of his Washington County Public Schools career at Williamsport High.

"I just feel like I lived my dream here," he said.

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