Local educator reaches 51 years of teaching

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 4:14 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2022 at 5:19 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Freedom Elementary is celebrating a big anniversary! Long-time teacher Rita Hunter has reached her 51st year of teaching, giving all the credit for her inspiration to her family of educators.

“I’m from a family of teachers, my aunt Wanda was my first-grade teacher. I just had that love for teaching because she was there and I kind of copied her and wanted to be her. She taught for 35 years,” Rita Hunter said.

Hunter has long surpassed the woman she idolized during her teaching career. She said she chose to teach first grade, not only because her Aunt taught it, but because it sets the foundation for a child’s education.

“First grade is a challenge. It’s the first stepping stone of their entire career. We teach skills, basic skills that they will carry on from now through college. I’ve had students that have gone on to be successful, one in particular, worked for NASA in California,” Hunter said.

According to Hunter, having students and fellow educators remember the impact you’ve made on their lives is one of the most precious and remarkable moments of being a teacher.

“It was just a real eye-opener with misses Hunter because she was a first-grade teacher that was very dedicated to her students and not only to the students but the staff, her team and the school. She was in the same classroom for the 43 years she was at Sheridan Rd. She is old school and so she does a very good job of teaching the skills that need to be taught for first grade,” Mikel Shanklin said.

Hunter said education has evolved from when she first started teaching and she’s seen many changes over the past five decades.

“Without the basics, children can’t go forward. So we started just with the basics, and then we evolved to the computer age. We had Apple computers and a floppy disk ‚we had to learn all of that. Once I learned that then everything changed again,” Hunter said.

When we allow ourselves the freedom to change, a lifetime of experience follows, but the experience isn’t just evolving, it’s growing, much like the career of Rita Hunter.

Hunter said she has no plans to stop teaching anytime soon and wants to stay in the classroom as long as possible.