Talk about longevity.
Stalwart teacher Pam Bader is retiring after 54 years, during which more than 1,350 students passed through her first-grade classes at Beverly Elementary.
On Wednesday afternoon parents, staff, family and a bevy of former students lined up in front of the school to give her a gala send-off, complete with balloons, bubble machines and a seemingly endless parade of cars packed with current and former students
“It’s hard to imagine Beverly without her,” said parent Laura Eschrich. “When people hear about Beverly, they invariably ask ‘Is Mrs. Bader still teaching there?’ She is a cherished educator and the glue that holds Beverly traditions and memories together.”
Unlike many educators who move around during their careers, Bader has been part of the Beverly family since she began teaching in 1965. During that time she has taught several generations of students, says she “remembers all their names,” and amassed a perfect attendance record, never missing a single day in her classroom.
An avid reader, Bader is famous for passing on her love of books to her students — and there was always lots to choose from with her classroom library of more than 6,000 titles. In the 1970s she acquired an antique bathtub with legs for her room, and it immediately became the “reading tub,” where students would kick back on pillows while reading volumes from her very eclectic classroom library. And the books didn’t just stay in the classroom: Over the years she gifted more than 2,000 of them to her students.
Her special connection to her students was evident from the beginning.
“In my second year of teaching, one of my students asked me to wait until he grew up so we could get married,” she recalls.
While that never happened, when she did get married in 1979, she invited her entire class to the ceremony.
“I really love teaching first grade,” she says. “The kids are honest, authentic and they say the funniest things. One minute you’re mad at them, and the next they’ve already forgiven you.”
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel