Gerry Leckerling and Ena Jesset have a combined 42 years of teaching service at Charlotte Central School. This week is the last for both women, who spoke recently the bittersweet language of walking away from many years in teaching and into their private lives.
Leckerling’s 23 years at CCS “have been a very precious part of my life,” she says, “the connections I’ve made with students and adults alike have been incredible.” Leckerling began her time at the school as a kindergarten paraprofessional with Chris Schillhammer and Ebeth Scatchard, “but quickly acquired a thirst to teach middle level students.”
When asked of what are you proud of this time in your life she says, “I’m proud to attach my name to the genesis of the existing ‘Learning Centers’ at CCS. After starting a very modest Learning Center in the old 5th grade wing, then known as ‘Highlands,’ CCS realized the necessity and now has several ‘Learning Center’ areas for students who need the extra lift.”
Learning from the students is what Leckerling names as something she’s loved about the work. “They teach all of us every day,” she says. “I will miss hearing ‘Hi Mrs. Leckerling!’ in the halls with the smiles that accompany.”
Leckerling plans to transition away from her dedicated role at the school by substitute teaching occasionally. “I have had very mixed emotions about retiring and thought long and hard about it,” she says, “The main factor that moved me toward this decision is that my daughter, Jillian, is due to have a daughter on June 14th, the last day of school. My new role as a grandmother awaits me!”
Along with that new and very important title, Leckerling plans to find more time to exercise, kayak, bike, garden and cook. To the next person who takes her role she says, “Enjoy the ride!”
Ena Jesset started teaching in 2000 when her three children were all in school. Her journey began as a substitute in the Shelburne Community School. Next she became a math specialist and then moved into a third and fourth grade classroom teaching position at CCS. She loved seeing a student grow in confidence; knowing the kids on an individual level.
“As a teacher I have been drawn to bringing this from the natural world into the classroom,” Jesset says. “We started the playground garden behind the school twelve years ago.” Jesset also speaks of her appreciation for the ways in which teaching has changed over the years. “We continue to learn new things about brain science and the ways kids learn. We have learned how to individualize teaching and learning, which has been both a wonderful thing and a challenge,” she says.
Like Mrs. Leckerling, Jesset will soon welcome new members of her family—there are two grandbabies arriving in the fall. Jesset says she’s ready for more time spent hiking and walking and biking. I might even get to harvest my garden, she laughs.