Graduating from elementary school

KINDERGARTEN VETERAN  —   Known as Mrs. Gierke to most of her friends under 4 feet tall, Wendy Gierke will soon venture from the Kindergarten and First grade rooms to explore new opportunities as a retiree.  After 40 years of service to the school district, she closes her classroom door, but not for good. Gierke says she already has substitute plans in the future, in addition to several other venues of service to the community.  We won’t say goodbye to this veteran teacher, instead we wish her good luck in all her endeavors.  I-O Photo by Tirsea McNeal





By Tirsea McNeal, I-O Reporter

It takes a lot of courage to retire after 40 years of teaching five, six and seven-year-olds.  The decision wasn’t an easy one according to Wendy Gierke, Kindergarten and First grade teacher at Meadowlark Elementary School.

“I took a lot of time thinking about this decision; it wasn’t something I just did.”

After 40 years of teaching, 37 of them with the Conrad School District, teacher; Gierke is leaving her classroom, graduating into retirement.

Gierke received her BS degree from MSU—Billings, and then went on to receive her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education at MSU—Northern.

She may be leaving the classroom, but she’s not leaving her kids.  Gierke will remain in the community doing substitute work, spending time in the library and in other areas where she already has commitments.

Principal Greg Jensen said, “Mrs. Gierke motivates her students toward their potential and progress.  She uses proactive and preventative techniques for learning and behavior.” 

Jensen added, “She demonstrates enthusiasm and utilizes motivational techniques.  Mrs. Gierke was instrumental in our Montana Behavioral Institute (MBI) program.  She got everyone on board to teach and reinforce student expectations and behavior.” 

Gierke said, “I look forward to continuing my involvement in MBI.”

Jensen commented, “Mrs. Gierke has made an impact on so many students’ lives and will be missed tremendously.” 

She said, “I will miss the kid’s smiling faces and their daily hugs.”

One of the things she will regret leaving behind is the staff.  She said, “I’ll miss their professional and personal friendships I’ve made over the years.”