Cordova teacher retires after 37 years
by Jennifer Cohron
May 30, 2011 | 4159 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Susie Vance, a teacher at Cordova Elementar School, hugs a student in her classroom. Vance has spent her entire career at CES. - Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Susie Vance, a teacher at Cordova Elementar School, hugs a student in her classroom. Vance has spent her entire career at CES. - Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
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Susie Vance didn't start out to become a teacher.

More than 37 years of Cordova Elementary School students can be grateful that her plan to major in math at Walker College didn't work out.

"When I hit calculus, we didn't agree," Vance said.

Vance, a Cordova native, has spent her entire career in education at CES.

She taught first grade for 15 years and then moved to the fourth grade hall after getting some encouragement from a co-worker.

Vance was placed in the classroom where she was a fourth grade student under Ms. Betty Felkins.

When Vance told her students that fact each year, they usually seemed amazed that the building was so old.

"I'll say, 'Wait a minute. How old do you think I am?' They change their story then," Vance said.

Vance, who retired this week, said she is very happy that she decided to become a teacher.

Her first year in teaching, she had 38 first graders who had never had kindergarten because it wasn't offered yet.

She spent the first six weeks teaching them their colors and how to write their names before moving on to other required material.

Although Vance's final weeks in education were overshadowed by the April 27 tornadoes that destroyed Cordova, she is grateful for the "great group of kids" and their parents who shared the year with her.

Vance has never said that she was going to work. She preferred to think of it as getting ready for school.

"I guess I've never looked at it as work," Vance said.

Vance's original plan was to retire early by taking approximately 20 sick days she had built up over the years. After the devastating storms, she decided that her place was at school with her students.

She is donating the sick days to a local bus driver who was injured and lost a loved one in the tornadoes.

Principal Mike Scott said Vance is irreplaceable and has been a godsend for him in his six years at CES.

He added that her Cordova roots allowed Vance to have a unique role in the recovery of her students after the tornadoes.

"She's been a calming effect, especially with the kids because she knows so many families and she's very loyal," Scott said.