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Rynerson: "Part of the People [Kids] Have Become"

Every week we’ll feature a brief chat with someone who lives, works or plays in Albany.

Name: Juanita Rynerson

Age: 64

Occupation: Teacher

When did you start teaching? 1970, at Etiwanda, near Cucamonga. I moved up in 1972 to the East Bay. I never taught more than three years in a place till I got my job in Albany in 1989 at . I’d taught every grade level through eighth, except for kindergarten and sixth. I was hired as a combination third- and fourth-grade teacher at Marin.

How did you like teaching fourth grade? I stayed as a fourth-grade teacher for nine years. I loved the curriculum, the social studies; we did the “Ship Trip” at Hyde Street Pier. I would take my kids to Pt. Reyes, to the education center, when it didn’t cost as much.

What I loved about fourth-grade teaching was that I realized [that] what made a difference in my life was reading and [other] experiences that unlocked the world for me. Growing up in South San Francisco, I was raised by my grandmother. I didn’t have music lessons [or other after-school activities]. For me, when I started learning about other parts of the world and the way things work, it was a discovery. I wanted to provide children access to those same discoveries.

Why did you switch to second grade? I had a chance to have 20 students per class; I went back and forth between third and second grade for four years.

What do you like about second-graders? Seven-year-olds are at the beginning of a golden age, between seven and ten, when they are beginning to become aware of their own confidence and their effect on the world.

Did anything surprise you about second-graders? That in September they’re breathtakingly young.

Some people would say you were crazy to take second-graders camping. How did you decide you could handle that? I had been doing it with my fourth-graders, and I didn’t want to give it up. I also started Day of the Dead and Rancho Day at Marin. Day of the Dead is my favorite; it’s such a positive validation of family and ancestors, which is a second-grade theme.

How has teaching – the curriculum, the methodology, the population – changed for you over the years? I think that children seem to expect to be entertained, I think that the use of video games dulls them to the feelings of other children – you know, that “pow pow” thing. I love the parents and children. I especially care for the parents, because I was there once. I think that [children] are too busy; they have too many after-school activities. The kids are very programmed and don’t have enough downtime.

I take great pleasure in seeing the children and parents [of Albany] through the years. I feel that I’ve been a part of the people that they’ve become.

It’s time to pass on the torch.

What are your plans for after retirement? I have a lot of books to read. I want to travel, garden. I have two grandchildren, and I might do a little volunteering at the school. I’m going to art camp; I want to do a little acting – improv.

Everybody makes mistakes ... ! If there's something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at emilier@patch.com.

Kristin June 08, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Some of my fondest elementary school memories are of Ms. Rynerson's class. I was one of many lucky fourth graders who got to be a sailor on the Balcultha for a night, which was an incredible expirence! I also remember camping outdoors and visiting the local California misson. Ms. Rynerson truly believed in hands on teaching and it showed in the classroom through adventurous field trips and activities. Her enthusiasm and passion for teaching couldnt be more authentic and plapable. She will be missed greatly. Thank you for all your wonderful years!!!
William (Bill) Whitaker June 08, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Thank you, Juanita! Our daughter had a great time in your class, and I very much enjoyed volunteering during her tenure. Enjoy your time!
Karen Sorensen June 09, 2011 at 01:41 AM
My daughter also had the good fortune to have Ms. Rynerson as a teacher. She greatly benefited from her time in the classroom and enjoyed numerous field trips to local performances, the annual camping trip and more. I always felt Ms. Rynerson gave each activity her all. Thanks Juanita--we'll miss you!
Joanna Pallock June 09, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Juanita - memories of the 2nd grade camping trip will always loom large in Koufax's memories. Here's to your next journey and many thanks for the gifts you brought to Marin school over the years!
Dangman February 06, 2013 at 04:43 AM
She was mean and bossy

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