Marks Elementary School fifth grade teacher Rose Jordan couldn’t hold back tears as she noted the impact her retiring colleague had on her daughter.
“It’s because of Mrs. Henderson my daughter developed her love for reading, and passed it on to her son,” Jordan said.
Instilling a skill and love for reading is one of the lasting legacies that colleagues say retiring Marks Elementary third grade teacher Mary Henderson imparted to generations of students she has worked with for the last 50 years.
Henderson, 72, has worked for 50 years in the Dos Palos Oro Loma Unified School District, from before it was a unified district.
“It’s unheard of to be teaching that long,” Superintendent Bill Spalding said.
First spending eight years as a paraprofessional before signing on as a teacher for the last 42 years at Marks and Dos Palos Elementary, Henderson said retiring is tough.
“It’s sad because one part of my journey is ending,” Henderson said, “But I will be volunteering and helping children with reading.”
On Friday, during the last day of the school year, Henderson monitored her students working on activities on the district’s Chromebooks before refereeing a game of “Heads up, Seven up.”
But the classroom was much different back in 1967, when Henderson first started working for the schools.
“She’s the only teacher who uses a chalkboard, maybe in the whole district,” Principal Manuel Cavazos said.
But Cavazos was quick to note that Henderson is flexible and has adapted to changes in education over the years.
“I’ll send her an email, she will print it out, write out her reply, and send it to the office,” Cavazos said, explaining Henderson’s ability to work technology in her own way.
Henderson said keeping up with technology and curriculum changes has been simple. She just does whatever the administrators tells her to do.
“I close that door and whatever is going on outside that door that’s negative, I don’t let it come into my classroom,” Henderson said. “That’s caused me to have a good, good journey.”
Henderson put an extra emphasis on reading in her classes. She encouraged her students to improve their reading levels through the Renaissance AR
Henderson volunteers for Friends of the Dos Palos Library, fundraising for more books and reading materials.
Henderson also raised three children while she was teaching. Her son is retired military now working with the FBI, while her two daughters also teach in the school district.
“My existence is modeled after her,” Bryant Middle School ELA teacher Margie Henderson said of her mother. “She teaches, nurtures and encourages. We’re just honored to be her daughters.”
Henderson said she first plans to travel to Idaho and the east coast after finishing up post-school work. But she plans to volunteer at the school.
“She just always takes care of her kids,” said fellow fifth grade teacher Lisa Loughridge, who helped Henderson out when she made the move from Dos Palos Elementary to Marks.
“She’s everything that’s right about education,” Loughridge said.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562