By Megan Myers
Much has changed since Dana Maskey’s first day teaching at Winfield 31 years ago.
“When I first started here, I was just a kid, myself,” she recalls. “We wrote on chalkboards instead of Smart Boards. The technology we use has changed so much.”
What hasn’t changed is the joy Maskey finds in training young minds as a Title I reading teacher. That’s what she said has kept her firmly planted in the district all these years.
“I’ve never really thought about doing anything else,” she said. “I love this age group. They are so innocent and just say whatever they’re thinking, there’s no filter.”
Maskey, who said she’s wanted to be a teacher since she can remember, came to the district after learning about an open position from her older sister, Debbie Briscoe, who also taught at Winfield.
Starting out as a fourth grade teacher, Maskey eventually migrated to the Primary School, where she got to teach her own favorite subject as a child: reading.
She learned that the key to motivating her students to become great readers was to give plenty of positive reinforcement.
“The key is motivating them and letting them know that you’re proud of them,” she said. “You have to make them feel successful.”
Maskey said some of her fondest memories are of teaching reading recovery to children who struggled with the subject, citing “the excitement in students when they begin to recognize words in print.”
Another enjoyable part of her career has been teaching the children of some of her former fourth grade students.
One such student is Olivia Suddarth, whose father was in Maskey’s class. Olivia said she enjoys reading because of her teacher. “It’s fun because she makes reading into a game,” she said.
Maskey, who lives in Troy, said making the decision to retire after this year was very difficult.
“The kids keep coming up to me and telling me ‘I don’t want you to retire,’” she said. “After a while, the school becomes your family, These kids were my kids. We had a retirement dinner a little while ago, was it was very emotional.”
Maskey said she may come back to the school as a substitute teacher.
“That way, I will still have a connection to this place, instead of just going cold turkey.,” she joked.
She said being a teacher is a learning process in itself, and has taught her the importance of teamwork and being flexible.
“As educators, we are life-long learners with continued professional development,” she said.
“We must see which approaches work the best for each student to successfully learn.”