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Celebrating Retiring Teacher Carla Huntzinger’s Four Decades in the Classroom

April 24, 2018

DUBLIN, CA–According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years for a salaried worker with their current employers is 4.2 years in January 2016 – which is down from 4.6 years in January 2014. This somewhat limited tenure is understandable in the era of start-ups, technology, mergers and acquisitions. This is what makes these numbers almost impossible to comprehend: 41/31. As in, 41 years in the same profession and 31 years with one employer.

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For many, June 1st will represent the end of another school year. For Carla Huntzinger, it will define the end of a teacher era. Ms. Huntzinger attained a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Subsequently, she secured her Teaching Credential from California State University Hayward. Carla began her teaching career at Valley Christian School and remained for 10 years. At the time, the Dublin Unified School District was becoming more stable after enduring a period of declining enrollment. When the opportunity arose at Frederiksen Elementary School to teach Kindergarten, she seized the opportunity – 31 years ago. We thought it would be appropriate to tap into her legacy and to examine how teaching has changed in a rapidly growing town like Dublin.

OneDublin.org: When you reflect upon the longevity of your career, you made the comment that you’ve had the opportunity to “teach students of previous students.” Can you attempt to articulate what this has meant to you?

Carla Huntzinger: “I have been fortunate to see former students grow up and graduate from college and become parents themselves. It has been a special privilege to be able to watch former students grow up and pursue their dreams. I can remember when they couldn’t write their name and now they are successful adults. I have been able to watch former students go on to work in the military, get their masters or Ph.D., become professional athletes and most importantly productive members of their community. I have had students of former students.”

OneDublin.org: When considering the metamorphosis of teaching over multiple decades, what is your comment on the methods/practice of teaching Kindergarten students in the 1990’s versus 2018? Are the rudiments the same or different?

Huntzinger: “The alphabet and numbers have certainly stayed the same, but the methods of teaching have changed. There is more emphasis on mastery of specific skills. There has been a push down of many skills to the kindergarten level. Many first-grade skills are now taught in Kindergarten. There is an expectation for the majority of students to be reading and writing when they leave Kindergarten. It used to be more developmental in the introduction of new skills. Many skills were explored but not necessarily expected to be mastered. A few years ago, the birthday cut off for starting Kindergarten changed from December 1 to September 1. This has helped the students to be more prepared and ready to be successful with learning all of the skills. I think that has been one of the most successful improvements, but that took years before the law was changed. Now the students are five instead of four when they start Kindergarten.”

OneDublin.org: The ability to fold technology into the classroom has been a constant of the past several years. In your classroom, students are able to manipulate a tool like an iPad. How quickly do your kindergarten students respond to these tools and why?

Huntzinger: “Technology has changed from the past to present. When I started teaching we hand turned a machine to make copies. A movie was on a film strip that had to be threaded into a film projector. Now we have iPads in Kindergarten and we can pull up movies from the internet. Most students of today are used to using a smart phone or iPad at home. They are not afraid or intimidated to use technology. I think technology will be an everyday tool that they use throughout their school years to support their learning. At the Kindergarten level, technology is a tool like crayons and pencils. It doesn’t replace the ability to manipulate real objects to understand concepts, but it supports it.”

OneDublin.org: Throughout your career, you have elected to function in an active role as an Instructor Site Representative and you have held leadership positions with the Dublin Teachers Association (DTA). Please explain why you chose to take on these responsibilities and why it was important to you.

Huntzinger: “I have been a site representative, secretary, and vice president of the Dublin Teacher’s Association (DTA). It was and is important to me to help the teacher next door. I first got involved when a teacher needed help and support. We have many talented teachers, but there are times when we all need a helping hand. Teaching can be isolating when you are in the classroom all day. When you can talk and help the teacher down the hall with a problem or concern everyone gains.”

OneDublin.org: What advice would you offer to your colleagues that are newer to this profession?

Huntzinger: “I have seen many changes along the way in methods of teaching. I would say to be open to new approaches, but to trust your own teacher observation to know what the students in your class need. You are the one who knows the students best (besides the parents). You are the one to decide what is necessary for delivery or review of concepts. I think it is important to adapt your teaching to the specific needs of your class of students. No class is the same and your job is to provide the best teaching for them that you can. To the new teacher I would say you won’t find a job that is more rewarding or challenging than teaching. It allows you to shape and nurture the child that will grow up to be a well-rounded and productive adult.”

OneDublin.org: Anything else that you would like to add?

Huntzinger: “I have loved being a teacher. I have been a student and teacher my whole life. I hope to continue to learn new things in my next chapter. Teaching is a wonderful job filled with many rewards. When you get a note from a student that states “This was the best day ever!” you know that you have made a difference in the life of a child.”

One can never be certain about a certain career or how long it may last. What we do know is that each career is unique. It is under this heading that OneDublin.org would like acknowledge Carla Huntzinger for her perspective and for her many years of service to the Dublin Unified School District. Your students and their children thank you.

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4 Comments
  1. Heinz Gewing permalink
    April 24, 2018 8:55 am

    I always knew you made a great decision to teach in the Dublin Schools.

  2. Brenda Gundell permalink
    April 24, 2018 9:10 am

    It takes a BIG heart to shape little minds. Thank you Carla for all that you have done supporting children’s learning. Happy retirement!

    • Michael Utsumi permalink
      May 19, 2018 11:35 pm

      As a fellow Kinder instructor, thank you for your comments, Brenda!

  3. April 24, 2018 8:05 pm

    This is awesome Carla, Congratulations!!

Comments are closed.