Monday, September 25, 2023

Libby can do better for teachers heading into retirement

| June 1, 2005 12:00 AM

To the Editor:

An open letter to the Libby School Board, Superintendent Maki and The Western News:

She does not like controversy. She decidedly does not like calling attention to herself. She is not a whiner or a contrarian or an emotionally stunted seeker of missing childhood affection.

Rose Goyen is, above all else, an excellent teacher.

Twenty-two years ago I found myself driving out of town on Highway 2 toward Stanford University. There I would face indescribable intellectual competition: 12-person seminar classes facilitated by world-renowned writers; physics labs led by Nobel Prize winners; and lecture classes filled with peers, 60 percent of whom had been high school valedictorians. The Libby School District prepared me well, thanks in large part to creative, demanding and dedicated teachers like Rose Goyen.

Ms. Goyen demands excellence from her students. For 24 years in a row, she has faced often-whining, sometimes-ungrateful, always hormonally imbalanced teens, and has granted us the affection of: rigorous, unrelenting writing exercises; "killer" exams; and intense and intimidating public speaking assignments. In this way, she planted in us the powerful seeds of intellectual curiosity and a budding capacity for self-expression.

Perhaps even more importantly, Rose takes her students seriously as individuals. In spite of the overscheduled work day of all of our public school teachers, she took the time to know us. As people. I will never forget her wise and witty comments on papers that I wrote two decades ago - about romance, about friends and loyalty, about exchange students, about the meaning of it all.

Optional, monthly, Tuesday night meetings to discuss literature and learn skills for the seminar class room? Extra assignments to prepare us for the huge writing load in university class rooms? Thoughtful suggestions for improving our skills of observation, clarity, brevity? Rose Goyen gave us all these things and more - on her own, usually unpaid time. Not only was she providing us with the skills necessary to succeed in a four-year college, she was giving us the gift of a lifetime: a delicious taste of the best of English literature, and of the joy of expressing ourselves in intense, lively and relevant debate and prose.

I do not know where I would be without the strong academic foundation provided me by Rose Goyen. Would I have backed away from the challenges of Stanford University? Would I have failed in graduate school at Harvard University? Would I have rejected as impossible the opportunity to serve, as I do now, as pastor to one of the most unique, ecumenical religious communities in the U.S.? I don't know.

What I do know is this: teachers from kindergarten to high school change our lives. And Rose Goyen changed mine. Her wit, her wisdom, her way of creatively and consistently challenging her students - all these gifts live on in me. I am not alone among my friends or those in younger generations. Rose Goyen has changed lives by the hundreds.

She now stands at the door of retirement, after a career of decades interrupted only by a "break" for raising her young children. What will be her reward for such care, such creativity, such excellence?

A push toward early retirement and the promise of years without heath care?

I am proud of my status as an alumna of Libby High School. Please, Superintendent Maki, please Libby School Board, please Libby residents who care about community, who care about children - show me you can do better by our teachers. I would like to continue to be proud of my history, my high school, my home town.

Laurie Larson Caesar