Retiring Southeast teacher ‘you have to have trust and respect’

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 5/25/23

Andrea Eisenbarth’s journey as a teacher began over 22 years ago in 2001, when she became a substitute for the Goshen County School District. Growing up in Veteran, Eisenbarth’s Grandfather, a WWI veteran settled in the community clear back in 1920.

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Retiring Southeast teacher ‘you have to have trust and respect’


YODER – Andrea Eisenbarth’s journey as a teacher began over 22 years ago in 2001, when she became a substitute for the Goshen County School District. Growing up in Veteran, Eisenbarth’s Grandfather, a WWI veteran settled in the community clear back in 1920. Her father was the chief chemist for CF&I Sunrise Mine, while her mother worked as a secretary librarian aid for Goshen Hole High School.

“I graduated from Goshen Hole,” Eisenbarth began. “I went to the University of Wyoming, worked at a bank after I graduated college, and was a stay-at-home mom after I had kids.”

It was during this time Eisenbarth began substitute teaching to fill in some extra time, but it wasn’t until 2001 that she began teaching full time.

“I learned the craft of teaching through substitute teaching,” Eisenbarth said. “For the most part, I did a lot of subbing in elementary. It just verified my decision to be a high school teacher, but my husband taught fourth grade for many years.”

Eisenbarth noted the one subject she truly loved more than any other, was reading. It was the passion for reading which led her to work vigorously to pass that love on for so many years. She added that any free time she may have, one could count on her probably having a book in her hand.

“I teach two reading intervention classes. I’m a reader. I read every second almost, even when I shouldn’t,” Eisenbarth laughed. “I’m reading, so being able to try and share that love with reading was my goal. Of course, you can lead a horse to water can’t always make them drink. If you find a way to make it less of struggle, it will be less of a struggle, and they will appreciate it more. You may love to read, but someone else may not. The way we transmit knowledge in our society, that was my goal. To at least try and give them some strategies, hints, and to show that it isn’t awful.”

During the course of her career, Eisenbarth has pointed out that in order to teach someone something they may not understand, a teacher may have to alter their approach. With this, a teacher should always be able to improvise, create a low stress environment, and continually adapt to ensure that the student will not become overwhelmed and give up.

“Some of those kids, when you say reading, immediately shut down,” Eisenbarth said. “And that’s not even getting into the writing part. I see the struggle that they have, and I know it’s not all of their fault. We need to appreciate the individuality teaching strategies. We can’t fit every student with the same system, so we have to mix it up. The ones who are good readers already, they will blossom on their own. The ones that don’t like to read could be because they’re so active. They’re moving all the time or are hands on learners, but whatever the learning strategy is, we have to cater to all of that.”

Eisenbarth further explained during the 22-year course of her career, perhaps just because one good idea may not work on one student, certainly doesn’t mean it can’t work on another.

“We need to encourage the strengths rather than hammering in the weaknesses,” Eisenbarth said. “That’s what I have tried to do. I’ve tried to use a variety of different strategies, with not all of them successful. You just have to keep playing with it and finding out what works for each student. You have to have trust and respect.”

However, as Eisenbarth acknowledged, despite a lengthy and rewarding career in education, the fact remains as time continues, all good things must come to an end. Sometimes it can actually be the beginning of yet another new and exciting journey.

When it came to the decision to retire, Eisenbarth was candidly honest, with plenty of humor thrown in.

“I’m old,” Eisenbarth laughed. “My husband has been retired for three years now. Being a grandma, I want to spend more time with my grandchildren. A whole series of events lined up to say it’s time. It’s just time. And I have no regrets. That’s another good thing about it.”

She quickly noted that although her mind is made up about her decision, and feels confident with moving forward, there will still be plenty to be missed about her teaching career. The friends and colleagues who have been with her for a vast majority being a prime factor.

“I’m going to miss everyone. I’ll miss the kids; I’ll miss the staff. It’s been a big part of my life. My kids went to school here. That’s okay, it’s time to move on. No tears. The relationship that the staff has had here has been a family. We know each other’s kids; we know the successes, and we celebrate and support each other that way. If you look at the longevity of the staff, that speaks volumes.”

Eisenbarth noted although she will be stepping away from the school district, she is assertive that all will be well for both students and staff moving forward.

“We seem to be in a transitional area right now, but there’s a lot of staff that are still here that have been here for decades. There’s a lot of staff that went to this school, went off, came back and are now teaching. So, the community is very, very strong that way. That feeling of is because this has been our home forever.”

When it came to the of plans of retirement life itself, Eisenbarth was both relieved and excited.

“My husband and I already have some travel plans,” continued Eisenbarth. “Nothing big, but just weekend trips and just [having] that freedom. Just to kind of go, ‘I wonder that place looks like,’ and then go there. I look at it as being on an extended summer break.”

The passionate, energetic and humorous reading teacher had just one last word for her students, both past and present. In contrary to how she spoke before, a tear or two did come.

“Thank you to all the kids I’ve taught,” Eisenbarth said. “You’ve made it so enjoyable. That’s what I’m going to miss. Even the complainers and the whiners, they still made me laugh. My approach was different. I let them call me by my first name. I saw it as equality, because I call them by theirs. It was not a big deal. There was a tradition if you were a sub, that they would call you by your first name. After subbing for so many years I just let them call me by my name. Referring to me by my last name was just not me. It was an easy thing for me, to identify with my first name. The ones that called me Mrs. Eisenbarth had to wait for it to register in my brain. It just wasn’t my deal. Sometimes I feel I truly am a product of the 70s.”