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Boonsboro teacher retiring after 40 years at her alma mater

June 30, 2011|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Janet Rohrer is retiring after teaching fourth- and fifth-grade in Washington County Public Schools for 41 years, most of it at Boonsboro Elementary School, her alma mater.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO — It was like coming home when Janet Rohrer took her place in the front of the Boonsboro Elementary School classroom as a teacher. The classroom was where she attended sixth grade when she was a student there.

Now retiring, Rohrer, 63, has taught fourth- and fifth-grade in Washington County Public Schools for 41 years. She graduated from Boonsboro High School in 1966, then got a bachelor’s degree from Towson State University and a master’s from Shippensburg University, both in elementary education.

Concerned that if she took a job at Boonsboro Elementary, her former teachers would treat her like the child they remembered when she was a student, Rohrer taught her first year at Pleasant Valley Elementary.

But after her first year, she realized that wasn’t an issue and took a job at her alma mater, where she remained for 40 years.

Born and raised in Boonsboro, Rohrer lives on a home she built on property she owns on the family farm between Boonsboro and Keedysville. Her 91-year-old mother lives with her, and her brother owns the rest of the farm and still farms it. He also farms the adjoining farm owned by another sister.

Rohrer and her two sisters are known for their baking skills. Rohrer makes fruit preserves and bakes pies to order that are sold at the Shepherdstown Farmer’s Market and Frederick Farmer’s Market at the Rohrer’s Meats stand.

Her pie crusts are made from scratch, and she tries to use local fruit when possible.

One of her former students has asked her to make 100 small jars of jam for her upcoming wedding.

“It’s a neat thing when you think back to your former students, and they ask you to do things like that,” Rohrer said.

Retirement will allow her more time for baking and volunteering at her church, Salem United Methodist in Keedysville.

Rohrer has seen many changes in education over the course of her career. She said teaching strategies that she started with were abandoned and now are back. The federal No Child Left Behind law brought with it the expectation that teachers in the same grades would be working on the same material at the same time, regardless of the skills of the class, she said.

“They’re putting more and more in the curriculum. What we’re doing in fifth grade used to be sixth grade, especially math,” Rohrer said.

Rohrer said she started the last school year thinking she’d teach for two more years, but in mid-April, after learning about some upcoming changes, decided it was time to go.

“A teacher here had said you’ll know when it’s time to go. You’re always told to go out with a good class. All of a sudden it clicked for me,” Rohrer said.

“Most of us are dedicated teachers who think of our students as our children and want the very best for them. We discipline them, love them, cry with them and care deeply about their future,” Rohrer wrote.

“I have mixed feelings,” she said. “I’ll be sad to leave teaching every day. I’m kind of excited to look for new things.”

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