Espich retires from Menominee Elementary

PLYMOUTH — Linda Espich went through high school with everyone expecting her to become a nurse. To her parent’s shock, Espich announced after graduation that she wanted to teach. Espich attended Indiana University, majored in general studies, switching later to elementary education, and started teaching at Washington Elementary School right after she graduated when a teacher there left to have a baby.
“I’ve never made a resume — I’ve never had to,” said Espich. “The principal asked me if I wanted her job, and I said yes. I’ve had the same job for 40 years!”
Espich also taught at West Elementary and Menominee, following Menominee when they moved to their new location.
“My happiest times (were) teaching at West,” said Espich. “That was before state standards. Teachers had more freedom to be creative and have fun. That was fun teaching.”
Espich said that the increasing amount of testing that teachers have to do was one of the things that prompted her to retire, along with having some foot problems.
“I think we put a lot of pressure on (students) with all the testing, and I don’t agree with that,” said Espich.
She recalls fun activities in the classroom from earlier years, including when she tried to count to a million with her class using kernels of corn.
“I think we only got to about 50,000,” said Espich, smiling at the memory. “But at least the kids knew that a million was a big number.”
Espich is not the only one who remembers those experiences. Since she announced her retirement, she said, many former students have contacted her through Facebook or email, telling stories of all the fun times they remember from her classroom.
“I recall the Spanish lessons and learning about Mexico for social studies,” wrote former student Michelle Emmons to Espich, “35 years later and I still remember! Now that’s a teacher that left a lasting impression!”
This spring, Espich attended the high school graduation open house of a former student who remembered having a “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” party in her classroom in elementary school. One of her third graders from the past year who she thought she was having problems with even invited her to his birthday party this summer.
“You don’t think you made an impression,” said Espich, shaking her head in disbelief.
Espich has saved every class photo from the past 40 years, and keeps them lovingly preserved in a binder. Although she is sad to leave, a special gift from a few of her fellow teachers on her last day made her feel better.
Carla Spier and Valna Stettler prepared a list of 10 reasons they would never forget Espich and delivered each reason to her separately throughout the day, each with a gift. Espich tearfully explained how special the gifts and words made her feel on what was already an emotional day.
“I just can’t say enough about them,” said Espich gratefully.
Now that she is retired, Espich is enjoying the sunny days and working on her “bucket list,” which includes bus trips, going someplace warm in the winter, organizing her home, and perhaps taking a cruise. She also plans to go to the covered bridge festival during the week, rather than on the weekend like she usually does. Espich said that she would like to attend the Little 500 at Indiana University, as she never had the chance to go while she attended school there. Espich said that she is interested in traveling, and may plan a trip for around the time school begins in the fall, to take her mind off of the fact that she is not at the school — and to take the opportunity to tease her former colleagues a little.
“I’ll call them and say, ‘I’m on the beach, where are you?’” said Espich, laughing.