A well-loved teacher within the Santa Monica community is riding off into the sunset of retirement at the end of the school year. Well, sorta. As this soon-to-be ex-teacher puts it, an educator’s job is never done.

Ann Whitley, a fifth-grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary school, will end her teaching career at the end of this school year. She’s been at Roosevelt teaching primarily English Language Arts for 31 years, her entire teaching career.

In her wake, she’ll leave behind a multitude of memories from a district she loves, with students and teachers she’ll never forget from the only school site she’s ever known.

“Well, you know, I don’t know if I realized when I was hired in 1988 how fortunate I was to be hired in a wonderful school and wonderful community,” the youthfully exuberant Whitley said.

“I love working with the kids, I like the idea of sharing knowledge and helping them to grow up to be citizens of the world.”

Whitley says former students still come by from time to time to thank her for stoking their interest in reading, history and critical thinking.

When she talks about her students, there’s a connection; no broad generalizations here, Whitley will tell you exactly the names and goings-on of her past students that keep in touch.

Some are just heading off to college, one is a lawyer, one is waiting to hear back from Stanford, and two are in New York, with one of those two in the theater scene. “When you have ‘em for a year or two, you develop a connection,” Whitley said.

Her husband says he’s seen parents come up to his wife and say, My son used to hate reading and now he loves it. Thank you for changing my son’s life.

“As an educator, it’s been wonderful to see I made some kind of a difference,” a self-deprecating Whitley said with a laugh. “Some teachers think, ‘What am I doing? Am I making a difference?’ But I don’t feel like I’m that way at all and that’s because of the community here. That’s why I’m at this school and that’s why I’ve stayed.”

While Whitley will be retiring from her day job, she won’t ever retire from her passion for teaching.

She says she’ll stick around Santa Monica, helping to mentor educators both aspiring and those that need help in the field, all to give back to the community that cultivated her career.

“I’m not retiring-retiring in the traditional sense where I’m quitting and going to France to eat lunch,” Whitley said with a laugh. “But they offered me a retirement incentive and gave me a chance to make a change and make that change now. I’ll still be working in education,  I’ll be doing that until I no longer can.”

Happy “retirement”, Ann.

angel@smdp.com

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