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In the news: appreciation of Fitzhugh Park's Beth Schickling

The following story appeared in the March 26 edition of The Palladium-Times newspaper by staff reporter Laine Griffin

OSWEGO — Long-time Fitzhugh Park Elementary first grade teacher, Beth Schickling, will be retiring July 1 after a successful and enjoyable career.

There was never any doubt in Schickling’s mind that she wanted to be a teacher. Her inspiration first began as a child. Her father was a fourth grade teacher in Central Square, and he was her role model and inspiration.

She decided to attend SUNY Oswego for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and from there on, spent her entire career teaching first grade at Fitzhugh Park Elementary.

“It’s a demanding job because you’re not just the kids’ teacher, you also have to act as a mom, nurse and babysitter, but I loved being that for the kids,” said Schickling.

Schickling also said she had a great faculty who were always dedicated and thought of their kids first.

“Everyone there helps each other out and looks out for one another. But more than that, the people I worked with became my friends. They’ve become some of my best friends,” she said. “But I’m going to miss the kids the most.”

Schickling said one of the best parts of her job was teaching her students how to read.

“First grade is when they really begin learning to read. Whether they learned in September or June, that light bulb would go off and I just loved seeing the look on their faces as they’d come up to me and say, ‘I can read this!’”

She also loved how every day was something new to them. They always had stories to tell, whether it was about their excitement over a loose tooth or just them running up and hugging her, telling her how much they missed her on Monday after not seeing her over the weekend.

“I’ve worked here so long that I’ve taught most of the current children’s parents. I save all my class pictures and will pull them out and show them to the kids and say, ‘look here, that’s your dad. I taught him just like I taught you.’ And they’ll be shocked,” said Schickling.

“It’ll be hard walking out of that door for the last time in June knowing I’m not coming back,” she said.

Ever since she was five, she’s been in school and for the first time in all those years, she won’t be, and that, she knows, will be hard to get used to.

Schickling’s husband recently retired from his job and with that, more spare time for them will result in new adventures they are both looking forward to.

“I’m going to wake up each morning and think, ‘what will I do today?’”

She and her husband would like to travel and be present for their daughter’s graduation this May from SUNY Cortland with a bachelor’s degree, as well as their son’s graduation at SUNY Oswego with a master’s degree.

Though her time at Fitzhugh is coming to an end, she said she will always be around if they need a helping hand.

“I don’t plan to be a substitute teacher because if I were to do that, I might as well have just stayed teaching full-time. But if they ever need anything, I’ll always be there to volunteer,” she said. “It’s been a great ride. I’ll miss the camaraderie and fun. There were a lot of laughs with the kids and I’ll miss Fitzhugh dearly.”

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