Terry Ryan is retiring this year after more than 40 years in education. She dedicated 32 years to teaching elementary students in Burlington School District. She taught special education at Flynn Elementary, Barnes Elementary and most recently at Champlain Elementary. Students and colleagues knew that they could rely on Terry for guidance and support. She was passionate about her work and a relentless advocate for her students. Her knowledge was deep and many benefited from her expertise in teaching strategies.
I have had the opportunity to work with so many incredible educators over the years and have forged lifelong friendships that will sustain me for the remainder of my life.Terry Ryan
Words from Terry:
I attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY and graduated with a BA in Political Science and a teaching certificate to teach Secondary Social Studies. I was not ready to make a career commitment and went home to work in a Home for juvenile delinquents from inner city Philadelphia. I then decided to pack up my bags in my old Dodge Dart (great car, by the way) and headed to Seattle, Washington. Unfortunately my axle broke in Topeka, Kansas and $600 later I only had enough money to get me to some friends in Vail, Colorado. I got a job in Vail driving the town bus. The perk of that job besides health insurance was a ski pass which made for a fun winter.
When the ski season was over I continued my trek to Seattle. By then I had decided that I wanted to pursue my Masters degree in Special Education. A friend joined me and we mapped out our trip by visiting graduate schools in the west where prospective students could stay in the dorms for $1.50 s night – such a deal! That trip led me to Utah State University in Logan, Utah for graduate school but before I could attend I had to save up more money so returned east to work at the May School for Autistic Children in Chatham, Mass. as a Child Care Worker. (So many stories to accompany each of these adventures!) I did return to Logan and received my Masters degree in Special Education.
In the fall of 1978 I began my career as a Special Educator in Bennington, Vermont. In 1980 I moved to Jericho, Vermont where I taught in Chittenden East for 9 years in Browns River Middle School, Underhill Central School and Underhill ID School at different times. FUN FACT: When I started teaching in Chittenden East Special Educators were paid less than all of the other teachers in the District even though in addition to our teaching certificates we were required to have Masters degrees. I organized the Special Educators and Speech/Language Pathologists and negotiated with the Superintendent by myself so that we could be included with the rest of the teachers. I then served on the negotiating team for a number of years before moving over to the Burlington School District.
In Burlington I taught at Flynn for 2 years and Barnes (Sustainability Academy) for 14 years before landing at Champlain for the winter of my career. I have taught at Champlain for 16 years.
The Burlington School District has provided so many opportunities for me to grow professionally and personally and for that I am grateful. I have had the opportunity to work with so many incredible educators over the years and have forged lifelong friendships that will sustain me for the remainder of my life.
I have deeply loved the work I have had the privilege to do and am honored to have finished my career with the Champlain family of students, families and staff. When I moved on from a previous position a student that I did not actually teach but would touch base with on occasion told me that she would most miss my voice because it gave her hope. That note deeply touched me because as teachers we do not necessarily know how we impact the lives of our students each day and hope is such a treasure to embrace. I cannot imagine a more precious gift.
With love and much gratitude,
Words from Colleagues:
“Terry, I have enjoyed working with you over the years. It is clear that your students are front and center as you plan for their learning. You have had a powerful influence on each of your students. I sure hope you have created some Master Class videos I can watch to soak up your teaching strategies. All the best to you as you start your retirement.” Susan Ames
“Dear Terry, I can’t believe you are leaving us! However, there is no one more deserving of it! Since the first day I came to Champlain, I have always been impressed by your passion for doing what is best for ALL students. You are a fierce advocate for our kids and they know it! Your room was a safe haven for so many. Whenever I got the chance to glimpse in there you were artfully managing multiple kids and getting them to do their best work–all with a smile on your face. Champlain will not be the same without you. Please stay in touch and I hope I get invited on one of your outdoor adventures soon!” Love, Aziza Malik
“Dear Terry, You were one of my very first mentors back when I truly had no idea what I was doing! Through the years you have been a role model, a friend, and a person I always know I can turn to when I have a perplexing situation to figure out with a student’s learning. You are just so totally an expert in your craft — you’ve passed on so much knowledge and passion not only to your students but to your colleagues, too. Thank you for all of your support over the years, most especially in my early years at Champlain! When I was new to town and to the field of education you were kind, accepting and supportive — you taught me so much! I wish you so much fun and relaxation in your retirement.” Love, Kate Mattina
“Terry, It was the ultimate pleasure working with you since my arrival at Champlain. You are a teaching powerhouse, always having a wealth of knowledge. Always, knowing your students inside and out. You have left your mark on Champlain, and I can’t imagine it without you! Be assured of how many lives you’ve positively touched in your career as an educator. Your students were like family to you, and you never gave up until you got through. I witnessed the love, passion, and dedication you put into all you did…EVERY SINGLE DAY! I will miss you so much! I know that this isn’t good-bye and can’t wait to hear about your adventures to come!” Much love, Sarah Legault
Terry, These past 5 years have flown by. It has been an absolute honor to work with you. You have taught me so much, and I love watching you pour your heart and soul into the job. The kids truly know how much you care about them. Your passion (which is powerful and occasionally forceful) is something I rarely see in people who have been teaching as long as you have been. You have been such an asset to our team and the Champlain community. I know you will continue to be available for support and advice. Thank you for teaching me so much. I will miss you!! Goodbye for now, but not a goodbye forever.” Love, Lilly