May 16, 2012
Northwest grad replaces former teacher, fellow Bearcat in classroom
By Ben Lawson, media assistant
Posters of Susie the Duck decorate the walls of Terry Conard’s classroom at Hosea Elementary School in St. Joseph. Blair Sample was one the many students who sat with Susie in Conard’s classroom over her 27-year teaching career and now, 18 years later, Sample is preparing to replace Conard, who is retiring.
Conard and Sample have taken remarkably similar paths in life. Both attended Hosea Elementary School, Benton High School and received education degrees from Northwest Missouri State University. Conard, whose maiden name was Edwards, graduated in 1973 with an elementary education degree and Sample graduated in 2011 with a degree in physical education.
Lined underneath the glass on Conard’s desk are photos of current and former students. Upon learning Sample could be her replacement as she retires from teaching the second grade, Conard searched for Sample and found her first-grade picture on her desk.
“I’m beyond thrilled that someone I taught is replacing me,” Conard said. “Because it is her, I know that this is the right time for retirement. I know she will be a great teacher and I couldn’t be leaving my classroom in better hands.”
Conard said when she learned Sample was one of the new teachers hired for the next year, she insisted that Sample gets her old classroom and that she be the one to inform her.
“I was so excited when I found out I was replacing her,” Sample said. “I don’t even know how to explain it. It was a weird feeling. It was so bittersweet. She is ending her career and I’m taking over.”
Sample remembers enjoying Conard’s class as a student. Now a teacher herself, she has spent time watching Conard interact with her class in hopes of learning from her.
“I’ve sat down and watched her a little this year, and she is just very caring,” Sample said. “She is very calm when she is teaching and doesn’t let the little things get to her. I really hope I can take that from her, that she always has a smile on her face. I just love it.”
As well as passing down a lifetime of experience, Conard will be leaving the posters of Susie the Duck with Sample. The pictures of the yellow duck will line the walls of Sample’s second grade classroom the same way they did when she sat in Conard’s classroom as a first grade student.
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