Lessons in Learning - Mayne

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By Rachel Mergen


“I want to make a difference in the world,” Terry Mayne, River Ridge kindergarten teacher, said sincerely about why she decided to become a teacher. For almost 40 years, she has taught in the district.

Mayne, originally from Lancaster, received her degree at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She also completed credits at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

“It chose me,” Mayne stated about River Ridge. Her husband was a farmer, which is mainly why she chose to stay in the area. Originally, she taught as a part-time pre-school teacher. Though she is certified to teach between kindergarten and sixth grade, at the time, the government allowed teachers to instruct one grade above and below their certification levels. 

Her choice was younger children, because “that’s the group I was most comfortable with.” She mentioned how, when she was younger, she taught Sunday school. 

“Trying to settle them in” is the first step to Mayne’s teaching day. Following that, she takes the daily attendance and lunch counts, which are now done using her smartboard. Weekly assessments come next, which help examine the progress of the students individually. 

Reading, language arts, math, social studies and science fill the students’ lessons. According to the students though, their favorite subjects are likely recess, gym and art. The children also enjoy science because of the animals they are now studying.

Mayne’s favorite lessons to teach are the reading ones. “I love to read, so I want them to love it too,” she said. The students enjoy being read to, and their favorite books are fairy tales. It surprises Mayne how many of the children have never heard many of the stories. 

Mayne enjoys the Dr. Seuss event the school district holds each March to celebrate the famous children’s author’s birthday.

The children are beginning to understand rhymes and three letter words, along with the “magic E,” which is what transforms words like “pin” into “pine.”

“The children are absolutely the best part,” Mayne said. She remembers many great memories with her past students. 

One of the most humorous moments came when she returned from maternity leave one year. While she was pregnant and teaching, she had to use a kidney-shaped table to allow for easier access. Because the table was still there when she returned, one student went home and told his parents she was going to have another baby already, connecting the table to pregnancy.

Mayne also delights in the wonderful relationships with the parents. She enjoys being able to teach students who are the children of prior students. 

“It is the feeling like I am making a difference,” Mayne said as why she returns to teach each year.

The hardest part for Mayne is, “seeing what some of the kids go through and not feeling like you can do anything about it.” Very modestly, she recalled helping students who had faced challenging situations in their lives, which included even taking in one student while the parents were absent. 

During her years of teaching, Mayne said she “learns constantly from my students and parents. I think you never stop learning.” 

“Ask what is best for the student, then everything will come out alright,” she added. “It is not what is best for you, it is what is best for the kids.”

According to Mayne, in teaching, it is important to “always talk with the parents and the students.”

Often, Mayne hears it’s necessary to “make sure you know what you want to do when you retire.” She noted that she is not at that point quite yet. 

Once she does retire in the future, she hopes to continue working with students and volunteering.

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