Thirty-three years ago, I walked into Westwood and was greeted by Mary Ward, the principal at the time. She invited me into her office and for the next thirty minutes, we sat and had a conversation. Not an interview but a conversation. We talked about our educational beliefs and what we loved about teaching, but most importantly, she let me talk about my family. After that, she walked me around Westwood, and I could hear the pride in her voice as she talked about the different classrooms, programs, and teachers that taught there. I have always felt so lucky that Mary Ward took a chance hiring me, knowing I had never taught in Texas and had also never taught fifth grade.
Little did I know, Westwood would become my second home, and the people I worked with, my second family. The beauty of Westwood is that we have stuck together through good times as well as hard times. I remember watching Walter Wilson, in waders, sucking up water when the open area flooded. Teachers like Barb Graham and Hazel Johnson helped me navigate unknown curriculum and state testing. We came together to mourn the loss of several faculty members. My
Westwood family helped me celebrate the birth of my second daughter and covered me when I lost both my grandparents in the same year.
Never did I imagine that I would stick with teaching for as long as I have. When I stopped to do a quick estimate of how many students I have taught, the number went beyond a thousand! I still see all those faces that started the
school year unsure. They walked out my door at the end of the school year, confident risk-takers. One of the greatest highlights in the past couple of years is that I got to teach the children of children that I taught.
As I get ready to end my time with FISD, I take with me so many beautiful memories. I have been blessed to work with such talented people. I’m double blessed that I got to work alongside two of my former students. How cool is that?! I am grateful that I have always been given the freedom to teach my students with the trust that I was doing what was best for them. FISD is so much more than a school district. It truly is a family.
Sitting here in my classroom, I can still hear Mary Ward’s heels clicking down the hallway. Thank you for my time at Westwood. It has been a great adventure!
- Teresa Waltenbaugh, Westwood Second-Grade Teacher