Jane Bushnell was born in Iowa, earned a B.S. in elementary education at Chadron State College and a Master’s in educational leadership at the University of Wyoming.
Bushnell taught in elementary schools at Alcova, Wyo., and Clinton, Neb., and middle school in Freer, Texas, before taking a fourth grade teaching position at Lovell Elementary in 1989.
“I needed out of the south. I was looking to get back to Wyoming and luckily a position was available to meet my needs,” she said.
“It seems I changed positions about every five years,” Bushnell said. “From fourth grade, I went to Title I and then to first grade.”
The Lovell Elementary principal’s position became available to her in 2001. Later, she returned to teaching, moving over to Lovell Middle School, where she has taught all three grades in the language arts department and sixth grade social studies, she said.
Bushnell said she did not feel one experience was more enjoyable than another.
“I think each one has rewards. When the kids are younger, they want to please and are eager to learn. As they get older, they are capable of more understanding, a deeper level of understanding, and a higher level of questioning. It’s not just me asking the questions. When they get there, that’s really exciting,” she said.
“Each experience is an opportunity to learn and grow,” she explained. “Some are more difficult, but not less enjoyable. I’ve certainly grown, both educationally and personally.”
Bushnell said it is rewarding when the kids come together.
“The synergy is there. They arrive at the understanding, the light bulb comes on. But, the best, the most rewarding, is when they say, ‘Thank you. I appreciate what you helped me get.’ Some come back asking for a reference. They continue to trust me to help them move forward,” she said.
The camaraderie with her peers and colleagues brings fond memories for Bushnell.
“To laugh together relieves stress. We sit back and visit and see where everyone’s at. The people you work with help you get through things, especially when you’ve been here this many years,” she said.
Bushnell has taught in Lovell for 29 years. She has no definite plans after retirement except to sell her house and downsize. She said she will travel to see siblings, possibly relocating to Colorado.
Retiring during this time of the coronavirus makes it unique. Of this time she shared, “It’s sad not to spend the last days with the kids in the classroom and peers by my side. The loss of social contact — it’s sad to be going out this way. Yet, it is the best time to be getting out because I won’t have to begin a new year this way, and at this point that is an unknown.”
By Teressa Ennis