Archive for Wednesday, July 23, 2003

An educational opportunity

Teacher dedicates 30 years to district

July 23, 2003

Jeanne Scott remembers her first year of teaching journalism in the Baldwin School District was made a lot easier with the help of a certain English teacher.

Carolyn Groves was that high school teacher that helped make Scott's year go smoothly.

"It was my first teaching experience," Scott said. "She was a mentor to me. She checked in on me and guided me."

She said Groves' leadership and guidance was what made her such an asset to the Baldwin district in her 30 years as an English teacher and curriculum director.

"She's always been a leader," Scott said. "Carolyn was our leader in the English department. I bet we had one of the best English departments in the state. We were all working toward a common goal and she helped organize us to do that."

But after 30 years, Groves' familiar face will not be present when the school year starts again in August. In May, Groves' position was eliminated because of budget cuts and her contract was not renewed.

But Groves looks at her time in the Baldwin district favorably.

"This district has afforded me a lot of opportunities," she said. "I think I've had a lot of opportunity to work with really good people and good students. It's been a really good place to be in education."

Groves actually began her education career 36 years ago. She said she had never really considered any occupation other than teaching. Her father had been a teacher and superintendent, which enabled her to spend a lot of time in schools and around teachers.

"Teachers were my friends," she said. "They were my role models. They were who I looked up to."

Groves was a junior high teacher for two years in San Antonio and one year in Tulsa before becoming a high school English teacher in Marion, Kan.

Gordon Wakeman was her principal at Marion. Wakeman later accepted a principal position at Baldwin High School, and in 1973, he convinced Groves to take a position at BHS as an English teacher.

"She is a very dedicated teacher," Wakeman said. "All four of my kids had her and they love her yet. The kids all respected her."

He said she played a key role in the success of the high school English department.

"At one time, we had the best English department in the state," he said. "Carolyn was pretty much the head of it, an unnamed head."

Groves said she loved spending time in the classroom teaching students.

"I think kids are the most exciting things in the whole world," she said. "They are just so exciting to be around.

"And if you can help somebody to think and reason, it can be so exciting, too."

Scott said Groves' English classes were challenging, but she always had a good rapport with her students.

"Her classes were not pud by any means. She had high expectations," she said. "But she was sensitive to her students' needs and she was real adaptive in her classroom.

"She has always supported the students reading good literature," she said. "She had the kids thinking outside the box before that was even a common term."

Scott said Groves' dedication to the district went beyond her classroom.

"She could see the big picture, the goal for K through 12," she said.

Which is why, she said, Groves' transition to a curriculum position seemed like a natural step.

In 1976, Groves, who said she had always had an interest in curriculum, finished her master's degree in curriculum from Kansas State University.

She said her shift into a curriculum position evolved over time as she became a half-time English teacher and half-time curriculum director.

In 1996, she became the district's full time curriculum director spending time on aligning curriculum within the district and state, working on staff development and school improvement.

"Helping other teachers learn how to help students is really appealing to me," she said. "Working with young teachers in curriculum is also exciting."

Scott said Groves' attitude was one of the things that made her successful in her tenure at Baldwin.

"She may be one of the most positive people I know," she said. "She focused on the positive."

Even though she won't be in the Baldwin district this next year, Groves will continue working in education. She will be working with student teachers in the education department at Baker University as well as teaching high school English part time at Santa Fe Trail, where she will have an opportunity to teach something new to students.

"In the 36 years of teaching, I never taught "Romeo and Juliet," and now I will," she said. "I think it's going to be really fun."

She said she's had many good experiences in her education career at Baldwin, but the students are what made it worthwhile.

"Seeing students I had 20, 30 years ago and them remembering something we did in class or something we learned is about the best thing that could happen," she said. "I love it."

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