By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Debbie Gerringer has spent nearly 50 years in the Danville school district, as both student and teacher, and next week marks the end of her 36 years as a physical education instructor and the start of her retirement.
“We’ve had a lot of changes” over the years, said Gerringer, who teaches at the Danville Primary School. One thing that hasn’t changed, though – “the enthusiasm of the kids, especially at this age level, they’re very enthusiastic towards physical education.”
Gerringer was a 1972 graduate of Danville High School, and fondly remembers some of her own teachers. High school chemistry teacher John Baylor “was one of my favorites,” she said, as was middle school physical education teacher Lois Gensel. “She kind of influenced me to become a phys ed teacher,” Gerringer said. When she returned as a physical education and health teacher in 1978, it was her former high school health teacher, William Elder, who helped show her the ropes.
“I always looked up to him. When I first got hired, he was very helpful,” Gerringer said.
Gerringer’s first job with the district was teaching health and physical education for grades kindergarten through second at the F.W. Diehl Elementary School, which is now the Danville High School building.
From there, she moved on to teaching those topics for kindergarten through fifth-grade, at one point teaching at the Danville Elementary School on Front Street, Riverside Elementary and Mahoning-Cooper Elementary.
Since the construction of Danville Primary School in 2011, she has been teaching physical education for the building’s kindergarten through second-grade classes.
“I enjoyed watching them progress from one year to the next,” she said. At one point, she also coached high school field hockey, basketball and softball and had the chance to become reacquainted with some of her former students again.
“It’s always nice to see the kids again when they’ve grown up,” Gerringer said. “They were excited to see me (again) and they would tell me stories they would remember from physical education class.”
Gerringer’s own four children, Artie II, Keith, Lindsey and Ashley, all graduated from Danville as well, with the youngest, Ashley, graduating in 2007.
Now, with her husband, Artie, retired, she is hoping to spend more time with her four grandchildren, travel, and visit her family’s cabin in Shunk.
Her students, though, will be sad to see her go.
“A lot of them said they’re going to miss me and they love me and they’ve enjoyed having me as their teacher.”
She has already received a goodbye banner from the kindergarten class of Amber Hughes and flowers and cards from the kindergarten class of Giovanna Evancho.
“It’s going to be hard not coming back here next year,” she said. “My retirement’s kind of bittersweet. I know I’m going to enjoy being retired, but I’ll miss the people and the kids and all the different interactions I’ve had with people.”
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