At a certain age, after spending thousands of hours in classrooms, I reached the conclusion that many teachers are in the wrong line of work. Not Kathy Remenar. She has the rare ability to be both interesting and entertaining while keeping order in the classroom. She fosters spirited debate, while maintaining standards of decorum with humor and the occasional flash of the eyes. After nearly four decades of doing just that at the Eureka Springs High School, she is, as she says, ready to graduate.
Mrs. Remenar’s teaching career started in 1968 in suburban Chicago after receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and English from Illinois State University. After moving here and while working on her Master’s degree, she became acquainted with the Eureka Springs School District and served on the local school board.
Looking back, I asked how things had changed over the years at the school:
“Obviously the advances in technology have changed everything in education to a certain degree. However, some things never change: the power of the written word; the pain involved in learning; the pride in doing something for the first time; the ‘aha’ moments. I get a kick out of the fact that each class felt like they had discovered Emerson and Thoreau for the first time and that Shakespeare really did have something powerful to say.”
I’ve forgotten the names of many of my teachers, yet I still remember the first essay that I wrote for Mrs. Remenar in 1984 and her red ink comments. While a high school student, I found her forthright and positive outlook to be contagious. Speaking of teenagers, she recently told me:
“Their optimism, sense of wonder, daring, and humor is what defines them. So many people say to them, ‘Wait until you get into the real world’ as if what they are experiencing is pretend…It is not!
“You have no idea how lucky I feel to have been a teacher all my life; I have had an ‘extraordinary’ life and that is what I wish for all of my students. They kept me young as I grew older…teenagers are the best anti- aging drug on the market.”