Sterling teacher retiring after 40 years

STERLING, OK (KSWO) - After forty years at Sterling Public Schools, an elementary teacher will be teaching her last class next week.

Back in August of 1978, Julie Sanders walked into Sterling for her first day of class, fell and love and just never left. She said many of her current students had family members, moms, dads, aunts and uncles, who back in the 70s 80s and 90s also had Sanders as a teacher.

Sanders was born and in Fletcher but said to her, Sterling is home.

"You just grow to love everybody, everybody knows you, you're just accepted. I never even thought of going anywhere else," Sanders said.

Sanders said since her first day on the job, the way she teaches has significantly changed.

"I don't have near as much energy as the teachers coming up. The technology is just crazy. You have to constantly keep up with the technology. That just scares me, I know you're not supposed to be scared of computers and such but it overwhelms me sometimes," Sanders said.

That technology has also changed how students learn.

"You used to get out blocks and you built things and had more hands-on things. Now you go to the I-pads and they want to see the bright visual colors and the sounds."

While different, Sanders said that change has been a positive one.

"It's a good thing. Used to, you didn't have radios playing or music playing. Now, you'll turn the radio on and they'll work to music. You can get their attention," Sanders said.

And there's something else that's changed for her students between now and 1978.

"They want things right now. Used to, we had to wait for things. In time they would come but now it's like right now," Sanders said.

Sanders said she's excited about retirement, but she'll miss her fellow teachers and the administration.

"I have the best coworkers ever. Usually, if anyone comes to Sterling schools, they don't want to leave," Sanders said.

But ultimately, the students are what Sanders said she'll miss the most.

"Just the look in their eyes when they're learning and that light bulb that goes off when you finally get through to them. They're oh, I know what that is now. Just the love they give you, you can always depend on a hug every day. Lots of hugs. And I love that," Sanders said.

Sanders said she has a lot of memories from the last 40 years that she cherishes. That includes the annual trips to the Oklahoma City Zoo and becoming the school's unofficial tooth-puller, for all the young students with wobbly baby teeth ready to fall out.

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