Former teachers take walk down memory lane
Fall is in the air and, for many, this time of year conjures up memories of school days. For two of our residents, those memories also include a career as teachers. Residents Bob Bearse and Mary Gauthier reminisce about their days in the classroom as educators.
Mary Gauthier’s career as a teacher started out in a small town in Iowa where she managed the school paper and yearbook. She later moved to Lawrence where she taught at Lawrence High School from 1960-86.
“I had the best job in the world,” said Mary. “I taught juniors and seniors in the morning and in the afternoon, I trained them for jobs. We’d work out what work skills they’d need for a job and then create a training memo for each student.”
One student of Mary’s that she is particularly proud of trained with her at Lawrence High before working at First National Bank. Today, she works for KPERS and has her doctorate.
Mary was raised in a family that focused on helping other people. She credits her parents to why she went into teaching.
“My mom and dad were very much into helping others. And the thing I enjoyed most was helping kids mature. It’s not easy – kids get ideas about what they think they should be doing. I really enjoyed visiting with kids, listening and talking with them. I think teaching is wonderful. You’re actually helping people day to day,” said Mary.
Bob Bearse started teaching in the physics department at the University of Kansas in 1969 and was on the faculty for 29 years.
“Teaching was sort of what physics people did. It was a natural gravitation. After I got out of graduate school, I went into the military for two years and then went to Argonne National Laboratory. After finishing there, I wanted to go to a university. There were three jobs available in the country in my area – Michigan State, K-State and KU. I ended up here and expected to be in Kansas about three years, but stayed about 50,” said Bob.
One of the highlights of his career is when Bob saw an opportunity for art students to take physics classes.
“I started a course called, ‘Physics for Art Students.’ I was involved with that for 10 years. It was an amazing amount of fun working with kids who had a completely different way of looking at life. I also got to know a lot more faculty members I never would’ve met otherwise. That’s one of the things I liked about the university – I got to meet so many people in other departments,” said Bob.
Like Mary, one of the other things Bob enjoyed about teaching was helping others.
“I enjoyed working with the students. Some of them I became fairly close with. My neurologist is a former student. And there are other people around town I had in class 100 years ago! I think I made a difference in their careers by helping them out.”