MT. VERNON — — For Diane Porter, the best part of being a kindergarten teacher is watching students fall in love with school.
And while the job comes with many challenges, hearing a child exclaim “that's so cool” after learning something makes it all worthwhile, Porter said.
“I always said I have the best job in the whole world,” Porter said. “That's because I think I probably see the most gains in a child over a year's time than in any other grade. … Just watching those kids get something and the progress they've made from the beginning of the year — they're kind of babies then — to the end of the year, to me is just so rewarding.”
Porter, 64, of Mt. Vernon retired Monday after 28 years as a kindergarten teacher at McClellan Grade School.
On May 30, the McClellan staff threw Porter a special retirement luncheon where she was presented with a bracelet as a gift.
“She will definitely be missed by everybody around here, not only in kindergarten but she's helped out throughout the school with different things,” said McClellan Superintendent Charlie Peterson. “I'm so appreciative of her 28 years of dedication to the school.”
Porter said her decision to leave was difficult, but the time had come to move on. She now hopes to spend more time with her five grandchildren who live in Olney and Boston, as well as with friends.
She said she may eventually take part-time work at a library or museum, but has no plans to teach again.
“It was time to make the change,” Porter said. “I wanted to enjoy some retirement time when I'm still healthy and can get around and move and travel.”
As a kindergarten teacher, Porter worked a great deal with her students on socialization skills and the importance of treating others with kindness and respect. Her class sizes tended to be small — under 10 students.