Retirements Mean Losing Diehl for Belmont Elementary
FIrst-grade teacher spent a half decade in local schools.
This is one in a series of stories of employees who have retired from the Bensalem School District this year after being hired in the 1970s.
Judy Diehl has spent about 50 years in Bensalem public schools, the last 37 as a teacher in the district she attended as a student.
While those numbers are very impressive, another figure is worrisome.
Diehl is one of 11 teachers who retired this year from Belmont Elementary School.
“That concerns me a little,” said the longtime first-grade teacher. “I've had student teachers over the years and I see a change in them not willing to put in the extra time.”
That's not to say there aren't some “outstanding” student teachers, said Diehl. And there's another good reason, she added, to be optimistic for the future of the school in which she has worked since 1993.
“The teachers who are left are excellent teachers. I'm not worried about that. I think Belmont will be fine,” said Diehl. “I just hope they (the new teachers) have the same work ethic of the teachers who retired this year.”
Diehl, who also has taught at Rush and Struble elementary schools, says her decision to retire was a tough one.
“I grew up in the district. I've been in Bensalem schools my whole life except the four years I was away at college,” she said.
In addition, she said, “first grade is the most rewarding grade.” Students come in with very few skills and “when they leave, they're reading and they know so much more,” she said.
Diehl also has great memories including the Three Ring Circus, during which first-graders performed all the acts under the big top. And then there's The Reading Cafe, begun five years ago.
“We had the kids come back with parents after school and we would decorated the rooms as cafes,” she explained. “Parents made reservations and then placed their orders from menus of three books the students had read. … The kids would go to kitchen and bring back the book on trays and read to their parents.”
One particular mother and child stand out for Diehl.
“I remember one child whose first language was Russian,” she said. “He was a little boy who could hardly speak English when he came in and at the end of year when he started reading, his mother started crying. That really touched me when it affected her that much.”
But in recent years, she said, teaching has become a little too focused on test scores.
“I see a shift in the ways things are going in education. I just feel there could be better ways of doing things,” she said. “It's really hard to bring yourself into the teaching now.”
And she said today's socio-economics have made things more difficult for students and teachers.
“So many parents have to work and I understand they're just not there to support their children the way they need to be supported,” she said.
Despite those negatives, Diehl said her time at Belmont may not be completely over.
“I don't really feel like I'm finished teaching kids. I probably will go back and volunteer and help out at Belmont,” she said.