Ronda Drake: A life dedicated to education
Ronda Drake, a math teacher at Alta Vista Elementary, has been teaching for 54 years and will be 80 next year. After dedicating her life to teaching, and coming out of retirement three times, for Ronda, educating is truly a vocation.
Ronda Drake's goal was always to become a teacher, and after graduating college, she eagerly entered teaching at the age of 23. Although first training as an English teacher, she was thrown into teaching math early on, and while not her strong suit, she was supported by fellow teachers and students alike, including one particular student who she said would "keep her on her toes."
Having served as an educator in many different schools over the years, she arrived at Alta Vista Elementary eight years ago.
When it comes to her preferred teaching methods, Ronda finds regular algorithms the most helpful: "There are lots of new ways of teaching math, with different patterns and pictures, but I believe that algorithm is the technique that teaches you the most," she says.
Speaking about the challenges of the last two years, Ronda explained that many students didn't have the infrastructure they needed to learn at home. Drawing from this, she explained that in-classroom teaching is most effective, and alongside math games and manipulatives, structured classrooms are the best way to teach and learn.
Ronda believes in the importance of camaraderie in the classroom, and this is where much of her joy from teaching comes from; her connection with students. This is seen in the fact she still meets with the first group she was cheerleading sponsor of back in the seventies every year for lunch.
For Ronda, believing in the capability of students is a central focus of hers as an educator. Due to retire next year, Ronda reflected on her career: "I just like teaching, I enjoy what I do, and I want the students to succeed. More than that, I want them to become individuals who feel proud of themselves, and when all is said and done, say that they did everything they could to be the best they could be."