Molly Dreiseszun decided at age 10 that she wanted to be a teacher so that other children wouldn’t suffer the humiliation she experienced.
Dreiseszun said she had a “really mean” fourth-grade teacher who made all her students stand at the front of the class and read aloud.
“I was so scared,” she recalled, because she didn’t read well. “It was an indelible image of humiliation. I felt I could change that. I never wanted a child to feel that.”
She made good on her resolution, and for the last 37 years has been a school teacher, including 32 years with the Bozeman School District. Now she is retiring.
“I loved this,” Dreiseszun said of teaching. Every day, she showers her students with encouragement and ends the day with a hug for each one. “It just feels so gratifying. They say, ‘Thank you,’ and I can look them in the eye and say, ‘Thank you! Glad to have you tomorrow!’”
Today on the last day of school, Dreiseszun is one of 28 retiring teachers, custodians, administrators and other staff members who will be honored at the Bozeman district’s recognition assembly at 2:30 p.m. in Willson Auditorium.
At Morning Star School this week, students in Dreiseszun’s combined fourth- and fifth-grade class said they wish other students had the chance to have her as a teacher.
“She’s really energetic and really fun,” said Dawson Kenney, 11.
“She makes lessons so much more fun when she puts enthusiasm into her voice,” said Simona Cerenzia, 10. “I feel kind of sad … My sister really wanted her.”
Dreiseszun, a young-looking 60, said her next adventure will be moving to Florida, where she wants to kayak, mountain bike, fish and try paddle boarding — “anything that comes my way.”
Nancy Ojala is retiring after 10 years as Bozeman High School’s choir teacher and 36 years as a teacher in Minnesota and Montana. She is a familiar figure, having taught hundreds of students and led performances seen by thousands of community members, including the choir’s performance at Sunday’s high school graduation.
“I want to go out when I’m still loving what I’m doing,” Ojala said. “The kids are fabulous.”
Five years ago, when she was fighting cancer, Ojala said she received “wonderful support, from the students and faculty. Bozeman is a tremendous community. It just rallies behind the arts and music.”
Ojala said she plans next to do volunteer work, possibly at the cancer center. She’s also taking KGLT radio’s apprentice class at Montana State University to become a volunteer disc jockey.
Debbie Adams has been a teacher for 40 years, 36 of them with the Bozeman district. She came from a family of teachers and chose the profession “because I love kids.” Now a second-grade teacher at Whittier School, Adams spent a dozen years as a Title I teacher, helping low-income kids who struggled with math and reading.
“It’s just been a wonderful career,” Adams said. “So rewarding. I’ve had students come back I had 30 years ago. It made me feel I’ve made a difference.”
Adams said she’s excited to have more time to spend with her two grandchildren and “to do things I love – hiking, gardening, traveling.”
Nina DiMauro, a fourth-grade teacher at Emily Dickinson School, is retiring after a 36-year career, 31 years in Bozeman. This year her class won national recognition when students submitted the winning entries, Ebb and Flow, in a NASA competition to name two moon satellites.
“I’m really glad I was a teacher,” DiMauro said. “I’m really thankful so many kids came into my life. So many are friends. I’ve had three wedding invitations this year.”
Next DiMauro plans to spend more time with her family and to put together a huge portfolio of her students’ notes and artwork, collected over 31 years. She got choked up when she said she loved this school district. “I just really am so happy I moved to Bozeman and had a career here.”
Cindy Whitmer, who taught sixth-grade science and communication arts at Sacajawea Middle School, said retiring from the Bozeman district after 27 years is “bittersweet.” She’ll miss her kids and colleagues, but feels excited to have time to do things like travel.
Whitmer said she has loved seeing sixth-graders grow each year, leaving “with a stronger sense of self, who they can be and what they can accomplish.”
Whitmer said when she was college age, there were basically two professions women could go into – nursing or teaching.
“I’m so thankful I did” become a teacher 33 years ago, Whitmer said. “I have a passion for making a difference.”