FRUITLAND — A lot of things can change in 49 years; In Linda Langley’s time as a teacher, the world has seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dot-com boom, and the advent of the smartphone just to name a few.
Now has come the Fruitland Elementary School teacher’s time to clean out her desk. Langley will retire following the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year.
Fellow teacher Terri Walton highlighted Langley’s plans to retire in an email to the newspaper on April 22, in which she shared some of Langley’s accomplishments. The two teachers taught alongside each other for 11 years.
“That is when I learned to love history-especially Idaho history!” wrote Walton. “Linda started the yearly Idaho History program, the elementary Idaho history trivia contest, the yearly health fair, and other activities. She scheduled interesting speakers: The Historical Museum in Boise, Stewart’s Gem Shop, health fair presenters, Idaho Power presentations, etc. She is a leader with her fourth grade team and the elementary school.”
Walton said Langley taught her three children and is one of their favorite teachers because of her efforts to help them feel special.
“Linda comes to school everyday ready to teach school! She has not lost her enthusiasm in 49 years of teaching. Retiring has been a very difficult decision for her.”
In an interview with the newspaper on Friday, Langley said she became a teacher on the advice of her guidance counselor when she attended Cambridge High School with the class of 1968.
“I used to babysit his children; He thought it would be what I should do,” she recalled.
Langley got her teaching credentials through the University of Idaho in 1972, before coming to Fruitland Elementary as a 4th grade teacher that same year.
“It was a good place to be,” said Langley. “We’ve always had a supportive community and a supportive staff. Our school receives a lot of attention for doing a good job,a lot of people move to our school district because they value what our school offers.”
Langley said she emphasizes Idaho history in her classes because her family came west on the Oregon Trail, including her great-great grandparents.
“I like history to be taught as the story of people; People surviving, people doing what they had to do to make life better for themselves and their families. That’s the way I try to present it to my students.”
A contributing factor in Langley’s decision to retire was a benign brain tumor she had removed in December.
“Just before Christmas, I … had fallen at home and the resulting MRI from the swelling in my head discovered [the tumor],” Langley recalled. “I pretty much had to learn to walk again, because it paralyzed my left side, pretty much.”
Langley described her treatment and rehabilitation as a “miracle.” She returned to the classroom March 1.
“Even after surgery, rehab, and physical therapy, she was able to resume full time teaching in March,” wrote Walton. “This is the kind of story we need to read especially in today’s world!
Despite being able to return to the classroom on March 1, she said addressing her family’s needs was a bigger reason for retiring.
Both Langley and her husband have experienced COVID-19 first hand.
“My husband is needing more help at home; He had a little harder time recovering,” she said. “We just decided it was time to maybe see if there was life outside of school. It was a very hard decision. I’m already going, ‘Can I retract this? Can I take this back?’”
In her letter of resignation, Langley highlighted that “we never know what tomorrow will bring” and that teaching has been “key” to her identity as a person.
In an email on April 22, Fruitland Elementary principal Jared Olsen echoed Walton’s sentiment about Langley.
“She is an amazing educator and truly embodies the essence of education with her enthusiasm and excitement for teaching,” wrote Olsen.
As she prepares to retire, Langley’s advice to her successor is to balance standards and flexibility.
“My advice to all teachers, whether it’s this grade or whatever, is that you have to have high expectations and hold your students to those. And you have to be flexible, because it’ll never be the same as you expect.”
A retirement party for Langley is planned for May 20 at Fruitland Elementary from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. She said she would consider working as a substitute teacher after retirement if the opportunity to do so came her way.
Noteworthy is that Langley and her husband own a farm outside of Fruitland.