Margaret Bumann has been surrounded by children for a half-century. And she loves it.
"School's my life," said Margaret, who though retired, continues to serve as a substitute in the Storm Lake schools.
Teachers, along with Principal Julie Kwikkel, recently shared good wishes with Margaret as she recalled her first day of teaching, Jan. 19, 1956, at the Battle Creek School. And 50 years later, Margaret was, where else, in a classroom at West Elementary for the day.
The devoted educator has taught students in the kindergarten through fourth grade classrooms all these years.
She admitted when she was in high school she thought about pursuing a business career, but turned to education - which thrilled her mom who also had been a teacher.
"I guess I took after her," she noted. But fortunately, she found her place in the comfortable public schoolhouse rather than in the one-room country schools where her mother was quite content.
Margaret "retired" seven years ago and thought her teaching days were done. She had spent her share of days, she thought, at the blackboard writing chalky white messages to her kids, thousands of hours planning her lessons and watching her classrooms become brighter as the little light bulbs came on in her young students' heads with new concepts.
But she couldn't stay away, she discovered.
It only took her a few weeks to come to the conclusion that her life really wasn't complete without seeing those little smiling faces each day.
With the big push today to increase test scores, Storm Lake administrators have made allowances for teachers to take time out of their classroom schedules to learn as much as they can about how to implement new and stronger teaching techniques to bring out the best and even better in each child. Margaret is as permanent at West School as one of those markers elementary teachers don't want their students to come into contact with! And she is so glad to be available to come into the classrooms - such a familiar area for her; after all, 17 of her 50 years were spent in the West School classrooms.
The literacy team meetings are arranged at the beginning of the school year so she automatically marks on her own calendar at home which days she will put everything else aside to come to school. She has plenty of time to enjoy her other interests and she likes that flexibility.
Many of the students she has today are second generation. Sometimes, stories come up from when she taught their parents, and that is fun. She added that there have been many occasions that her former students - now all grown up - come up to her to share tidbits of their life. Though she may look the same to them, they have changed tremendously from when they sat in the miniature seats in her classroom. She is always pleasantly surprised when they come to her and even more so when she is told that she made a difference in their lives that has remained with them.
"That is the one thing I hope all my students remember about me - that I influenced them in some way."
Margaret will continue to be a substitute teacher for as long as she is able. She enjoys the staff and she will never tire of the children. She is ready to begin her second half-century!