Linda Carper has been a ninth grade English teacher and a middle school librarian in the East Valley School District. After 36 years in education, she will retire at the end of the year.
She grew up in South Dakota and attended college at Dakota State University.
“Their emphasis was teaching, so I sort of decided to get my teaching degree and try it out,” she said. “It took a couple of years for me to feel like this was the right niche for me, but it definitely has been a great career and I wouldn’t change it if I could.”
Carper started at the district teaching ninth grade English for 12 years at East Valley Middle School. She decided she needed a change after a while and earned her library certification and started working in a school library. After a couple of years at an elementary school library, a job opened up at her old middle school.
“I love middle school,” she said. “I jumped on it and I’ve been here ever since.”
She loves being a librarian. Carper said she likes that she gets to work with the students over their entire three years at the school, rather than the one year she worked with them as a teacher. She said she enjoys watching the growth of her students from the sixth grade through the eighth grade.
“I really love knowing these kids for three years and watching them grow up,” she said. “They are never boring. They’re just so fun. I love their energy, most of the time, and their sense of humor, their goofiness. You don’t have to be cool with them.”
Although she said she gets to teach some classes, too, she enjoys the library activities.
“I like the extra things I get to do with kids,” she said.
Every year, the school holds a trivia contest called, “Name that Book,” which she considers a highlight of her career. Literature at the middle school level has changed a lot over the last few years, and she still enjoys reading them.
“There are fabulous books for this age group,” she said. “I’ll keep reading them.”
For this year’s “Name that Book” contest she brought in some old classics, including “A Wrinkle in Time,” and a newer book, “When You Reach Me,” which refers to that book.
In 36 years of teaching, not much has changed for Carper.
“Kids are still kids, they are still basically the same,” she said. “Lives have changed as far as technology, but kids, they still respond to the same things as they did 30 years ago: people who care and are having fun and learning.”
She said there is a greater emphasis on teaching today, but students are still the same.
Now that she’s retiring, Carper said she wants to spend time with her mother and her granddaughters, none of whom live in the area. Carper has three children – Katie Carper, a school counselor on the West Side of the state, a son, Ross, and his wife Autumn live in Richland, and her youngest, Erin, recently graduated from Eastern Washington University. Carper and her husband of 34 years, Rick, plan to spend some time traveling and she wants to spend more time in her garden. And of course, she will continue with the activity she’s been promoting in the schools for so long.
“Reading has always been big,” she said.
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