By Patty Rice Groth
Chris Cletzer’s first teaching job was at Galion’s East Elementary School, where for five years she taught special education students, starting in 1975. She taught elementary grades at North Elementary School, then Wilma Crall Elementary School, then Dawsett Elementary School, then back to Wilma Crall. It might be easier to report she never taught at Renschville Elementary School. In other words, regardless of their neighborhood, anyone who matriculated as a youngster in Galion, may have been one of Cletzer’s students!
Cletzer holds a Bachelors degree in both elementary education, certified for grades kindergarten through eighth grade, and special education, certified in grades kindergarten through grade 12, from Kent State University. Her Masters degree in curriculum and instruction was awarded by Ashland University.
She is finishing up her teaching career as a math teacher at Galion Middle School. However, teaching math does not mean her special education training has not been used in recent years. Cletzer says her regular classroom work has been enhanced by her training and experience, particularly in today’s atmosphere of inclusion of special education students in mainstream classrooms.
“Kids are kids,” says Cletzer. “You find a way to get through to them.” It is important that a teacher knows how to be flexible, she explains. She has always referred to her work as practicing the art of teaching.
In fact, Cletzer says, she might not be done teaching. Her retirement plans are open-ended. Finding another teaching opportunity is a possibility. She might even be busy teaching summer school just days after she retires! She has enjoyed everything about teaching. Her students as well as her peers have kept her stimulated and energetic.
Cletzer has participated in many community organizations over the years. “I’m not a person who can sit still very long,” she says. Before becoming primary caregiver to her mother in recent years, Cletzer worked a second job too. For 11 years, she worked in an administrative/clerical position in the dietary department at Galion Community Hospital. She was able to accomplish her non-cooking duties outside of school hours.
Technology has made a positive impact on her teaching career. She explains teachers used to spend hours and hours averaging grades; that’s how she and her colleagues used to spend their evenings and weekends. Now that job is done quickly and efficiently.
“More and more is being asked of teachers today,” says Cletzer. The support of administrators, staff and fellow teachers can make or break a career. The strong feeling of family among the Galion Middle School community has made it easier to do the job, she says.