Off the Beaten Path: Timeless Teacher | VideoCliff Naylor | 2/18/2013
Rella Abernethy started her teaching career at a prairie school. Back in 1962, she used flash cards to teach math. Today, she still uses old school teaching techniques, but now incorporates smart boards and computers into her lesson plans.
"The technology, you really have to keep up with it in order to be able to use it."
Rella taught full time for 38 years, retired in 2000, but still substitute teaches around 70 days a year. She now works alongside former students like Chloe Zinda, who she had as a second grader.
"She`s the same, she`s never changed, sweet, caring, looks the same, she`s just the same old teacher."
Zinda says Rella was one of her favorite teachers and many current students like Annike Lunde are also very fond of Rella.
"She`s a nice teacher and she helps us."
Principal Jan Huisman says Rella is an inspiration to all the teachers on her staff and is an expert at working with children. "She treats them with kindness and respect, she`s a very gentle person, never raises her voice, but she definitely has that teacher look, so you know when you`re in trouble."
Rella has been involved in education most of her life because she loves learning. "I just enjoy seeing the children learn, and it`s been so good subbing because you can watch them advance."
Even though Rella has been teaching for 50 years, she says some things haven`t changed, like the need for parents to be involved in their childrens education. "When they have homework, sit down and see that it gets done."
Rella doesn`t know when she`ll be completely done teaching, she has no plans to retire from substituting, and intends to continue in the classroom as long as her health allows.
When Rella began her career in education, she taught first through fourth grade students in rural Williams County, while her husband handled fifth through eight. They lived in an apartment in the school and also did the janitor work for the building.