Mt. Vernon Register-News


January 30, 2011

After 30 years of teaching it’s time to say good-bye

MT. VERNON — One Mt. Vernon Township High School teacher is saying good-bye to education after 30 years of teaching students across Illinois.

Tena Dawson, family and consumer science teacher at MVTHS since 1999, will retire at the end of this school year.

“I’m looking forward to spending time with my five grandchildren,” Dawson said. “I’ve got some in Fairfield, and I might have to take a few trips to Georgia.”

Dawson grew up in Peoria and attended Eastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois, where she received her bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science. She attained her master’s from Western Illinois University in elementary education.

“I started out teaching for one year at Limestone High School near Peoria,” she said. “Then I taught at Tylon High School in Stark County, and I was there for 13 years.”

After teaching in Stark County, Dawson and her family moved to Mt. Vernon, where she started off substitute teaching. She taught English and language arts at Ashley Grade School before working part time for both MVTHS and Webber Township High School.

In 1998, she began teaching full time at MVTHS, working in the Illinois Graduates Program, a system where teachers worked with at-risk students their senior year and the year after to help them with jobs, Dawson said.

Dawson currently teaches clothing and textiles, foods and nutrition, adult living and child growth and development classes.

She said the biggest changes she’s noticed over her years of teaching are in the technology and the amount of respect teachers are given.

“I don’t feel disrespected very often, but it seems like some of the students feel like they can do whatever they want,” she said. “Computers are good, but cell phones are enough to drive anyone crazy. ... Computers are fantastic. I remember when I taught fourth grade, we had one computer in the classroom for 20 kids, and the idea was that we’d put a program on there and they’d rotate. Now we can go to the labs here, we have all these beautiful labs. It’s fantastic the way we can communicate and look things up.”

Dawson said she feels local students are very interested in vocational topics of learning.

“I don’t think they get as much of it at home,” she said. “They’re very interested in culinary arts and kids.”

She said she teaches introductory classes that help students get into a path of interest, and said she believes students are very enthusiastic about “the whole of the vocational department.”

Dawson has three sons who are all married, she said. One lives in Georgia, one lives in Highland, and the youngest lives in Mt. Vernon. Dawson said her youngest son and his wife are expecting a baby girl, who was due Jan. 24.

She said one of the reasons she went into teaching was because her schedule would match her sons’ schedules.

“When they were young, it was difficult, because I had to wake them up and get them ready, but as they got school age, it was always very convenient,” she said. “It was difficult at times, but not undoable.” 

She said she plans to stay in Mt. Vernon during her retirement.

Dawson said she believes Mt. Vernon would be benefited by a new high school.

“We definitely need one,” she said. “We need to have all these kids under one roof, for a lot of reasons. I think pride would improve, and I think a lot of positive changes would come out of (building a new school).”

She said she hopes that the community will be able to see the need for a new school building.

“I’ve never been to a school with so many buildings,” she said. “It’s truly impossible to secure. I think for our security, we all need to be under one roof.”

Dawson added that in other communities where new high schools have recently been built, she believes community pride has increased.

“Mt. Vernon Township High School has really great kids who do wonderful things... People have never seen a campus that looks like this,” she said. “I think for the pride of the city and growth of the city, we need a new school.”

Dawson said when she retires, she expects to miss her students.

“There are really wonderful students who are friendly, easy to work with and help keep you young,” she said. “I have also worked with some good people here. I will miss some of the staff here, too.”

However, she said she won’t miss getting up early.

“I like to sleep in,” she said. “As soon as I’m off school, I shift back and I’m up half the night.”

She said in addition to spending time with her grandchildren, she hopes to travel, scrapbook and do more things for her church.

“I’m a very avid scrap booker,” she said. “I’m constantly working on one page or another. I like to read, I like to travel; I love going to new and different places.”

Dawson said she hopes to take a trip to New England in the fall.

“Teachers don’t get to take fall trips,” she said. “I may not get to go on my first year out, but I do want to go sometime. I’ve been in summer and it’s lovely.”

Text Only
  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 11, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

Twitter Updates