Two Shelby-Rising City Public Schools educators who both served the district for more than four decades stepped away into retirement at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year.
Deb Doehling educated youth predominately at the first and second-grade levels for the vast majority of her 44-year-long career, while Lynne Ruth taught hundreds of middle schoolers and high schoolers the ins and outs of various areas of science during her 41-year district tenure.
Doehling started her career by teaching second grade for four years before transitioning to teaching both first and second grades during the afternoon period for a stretch of time.
“There was one year where we had a really little class so I did some third grade, but for most of my career it was first and second grade,” Doehling said.
Doehling and her husband, Mark, live about 10 miles from Rising City and 17 miles from Shelby in Surprise. Originally when the Shelby and Rising City school districts merged in 2011, Doehling noted how the middle school was located in Rising City and the high school and elementary school were positioned in Shelby.
Both Doehling and Ruth stayed with the district during the merger and saw an assortment of change. First, there was the merger and then there was the closure of the Shelby-Rising City Middle School in 2017 resulting in all district operations being run out of Shelby.
“I started teaching in Rising City in 1978 and was there for 22 years,” Ruth said. “Then I resigned and started teaching in Shelby in 2000 and taught through the merger and that was in 2011. So, between the two school districts, I taught for 41 years – Deb was even longer.”
Ruth’s statement was true, albeit Doehling only outdid her by three years. While both educated for an extended period of time, their paths into the classroom were vastly different. Doehling knew from a young age that she wanted to instruct young minds and Ruth really just knew that she was passionate about science.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was little on,” Doehling said. “I just really enjoy the younger and primary ages, seeing all of that growth from the beginning of the (school) year until the end.”
Ruth, on the other hand, took a bit longer on her journey to realize that the classroom was where she belonged. After graduating from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, with a bachelor’s degree in biology she wasn’t quite sure where her career path would take her. But, after doing some student teaching she said that she was sold.
“And from there I really didn’t care where I went,” Ruth said, noting she read about a job opening in Nebraska and proceeded to uproot her life and make the move.
For the next 22 years, Ruth taught science to seventh through 12th graders. After the first two decades, she mainly taught biology, anatomy, physiology and physics. This past year, she also taught a college and career readiness course to Shelby-Rising City juniors.
“Lynne is just a very, very good teacher,” Doehling said. “There are kids who have gone off to college and then come back and said thanks to her they did so well in chemistry classes, and things like that.”
Ruth echoed similar sentiments about Doehling’s ability to reach young minds and engage her students. In fact, Doehling taught Ruth’s children, which she noted was a huge positive in their lives.
“Both of my boys had her as an elementary teacher and she was just fantastic,” Ruth said of Doehling. “She was always on the leading edge of what was happening with technology and she was a very hard worker. She did things during the summer and she would be there (at school) late at night after others left. She always put her students first and was a really hard worker.”
Both women recently said their goodbyes to colleagues and the district during a retirement party. There were plenty of faces from the past and present to wish them well moving forward. The duo noted how after all those years of service it was simply time to step back and soak up some of the other enjoying things life has to offer.
“I’m on to a lot of second generations – it’s a pretty surreal experience,” Doehling said, reflecting back on her years with Shelby-Rising City. “And looking back, we had kind of an open house deal and we were digging up some pictures of parents that I had as second graders, looking back at some classwork I saved – it’s a little bittersweet.”
But the transition will allow her to do more quilting and gardening and perhaps take a few personal interest classes in Lincoln. She will get to have more control over her day-to-day schedule, which she said will be nice.
Ruth, who lives on a farm in Rising City, said she plans to spend even more time with her grandchildren, three of whom live in Rising City and one in Atlanta. She said she will miss the ‘aha’ moments when students struggling with a concept finally have the "light bulb moment" at it all just clicks.
Reflecting on her career, Ruth added that she will miss every single year bringing about positive change.
“There wasn’t a single year that was the same, each was different,” she said. “And not just with the kids, new opportunities, too.
“Science is always a changing field, I think a lot of the things I taught at the end of my career we didn’t even know about at the beginning of my career. There was always some sort of new learning curve.”
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at email@example.com.