Trumansburg teachers Larry and Karen Glanton will be retiring together after 34 and 32 years, respectively. Larry originates from Elmira and Karen grew up on Long Island. They met at SUNY Geneseo where Larry graduated in March of 1986 and Karen followed soon after in January of 1988. They have been married for 32 years.
Larry applied to Trumansburg High School and was hired as a social studies teacher where he taught Global Studies to ninth and 10th graders and the elective Current Issues. Karen taught for one year in Geneseo at their BOCES, and then worked for TST BOCES in Dryden for another year before being hired by Joanne Brown as a Special Education teacher in the Resource Room at Trumansburg Elementary School. When a first grade position opened up in 1994, Karen applied and has happily stayed there for the past 25 years. The Glantons have three adult children, Katelyn, Shannon, Kevin and two grandchildren.
Karen’s favorite thing to teach is reading. “It is magical when the children progress a lot. I also love science and nature and like to incorporate those into my curriculum to keep the kids busy and engaged,” she said. Larry really likes geography and enjoys teaching Cold War history because he loves the Super Power dynamics and how they played out in the world.
Both Glantons felt this was the best time to retire, but for very different reasons. “I knew that I wanted to teach first grade ever since I was in first grade,” explained Karen. “I wasn’t going to retire at first, it was just a last minute decision. I really love my job, but Larry decided to retire and I thought of all of the things we could do together … traveling, be with the grandkids. My decision had nothing to do with being done or not loving teaching.”
Larry values his time and fun. “Retiring allows me time to be with my family. I love being in the high school and I have great kids this year. I am not counting down the days and hours. This was a window of opportunity after retirement to do active things and I wanted to take advantage,” he said. “I will miss the students and my colleagues. I will miss coaching because it is a different dynamic working with kids in a different setting.” Larry coached Indoor and Outdoor Track and Cross Country for many years and soccer for 10 seasons, working with Chris Bond.
Karen will miss spending time with the children because it makes her happy. “I will miss my colleagues and the families of my students and the day-to-day consistency. There is nothing like spending days with first graders. I truly love being a teacher and would choose this path again.” One thing Karen will not miss, however, is the copious amounts of paperwork.
Both Karen and Larry have positively influenced many children during their careers. “Years ago, I was talking to a student after class and he couldn’t wait to get out of Trumansburg. I told him that I made a conscientious effort to stay here because I love this town,” Larry related. “He went to Iraq, e-mailed me, and said, “You were right. T-burg is a great town.” That was a lesson for me. Words have an impact longer than just a face-to-face conversation.”
When Karen was hired for first grade, she surveyed her new classroom and discovered that there were Readers in class, but no individual books. All summer, she and Larry packed up their three kids and made the rounds of many, many yard and garage sales to buy books for her classroom. They went all over the place to try and find as many books as possible. Now, she has thousands and thousands of books available for her students. Some are organized by season so she can change out the selections every few months to keep her students interested in reading.
Karen believes that, fundamentally, teaching is an art. If you approach it that way, you can achieve a balance between helping kids in a changing world and changes in the evolving state mandated curriculum. Kids are still developing and, with six- and seven-year-olds, you have to keep it fun and lively while keeping them engaged. It is all about project-based learning where students learn information and apply it to solve problems. Recently, Chromebooks were introduced into Karen’s classroom to supplement the iPads.
Global Studies has basically stayed the same over the years, but technology has changed to make more information available. Larry uses Chromebooks as a research tool and it allows students to write, take notes and store information as well as to take quizzes and tests. “Technology is an asset to progress and is much more engaging. It sure beats the chalk board and TV,” he mentioned. “That’s the real world. I wouldn’t want to keep the real world out of my classroom.” He uses technology three to five times a week, including the Smartboard, and requires that his students put away their cell phones while in class.
Larry will not miss answering to a bell. Too many conversations are cut short and everyone has to move on. He plans to stay fit in retirement and likes to visit the weight room, use the elliptical and ride a bike. Larry will continue with strength and cardio training and stretching for flexibility. He also enjoys being outside and him and Karen plan on having a vegetable garden next spring. Karen enjoys baking and crocheting in her spare time. She likes to ride her bike and spend time with her family doing active things.
The Glantons want to travel during retirement, making trips to the northwest US, San Juan Islands in Alaska and Machu Picchu. They rent a house every summer on the Outer Banks for a family vacation and would love to visit Ireland where Larry has relatives. Neither plans to be a substitute teacher, but Karen would like to do volunteer work. Both are leaving supplies behind for their successors, but will be taking personal items collected over the years, like cards from students and funny drawings, or taking home books where family members have written notes.
“I’m honored to have spent my career in Trumansburg and want to thank the families for sharing their children with me,” mused Karen. “I have enjoyed every moment watching the kids grow and learn. The children are amazing and they make me smile every day.”
Larry continued, “This job was going to be a stepping stone for me to other opportunities, but the community was so welcoming and kind … that was a large part of why we stayed. Thank you to the school and the community for everything you have done for our children and family. This was an amazing opportunity to live and work in this community and school. We are very thankful.”