Patsy Gochenour (M.Ed. ’71, Ed.S. ’86 Reading) After graduating from Madison College in June of 1957, I started my teaching career at Virginia Avenue Elementary School in my hometown of Winchester, Va. I taught second grade for 14 years until the Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act came into existence. At that time, the Winchester School System wanted a reading teacher for this program; therefore, I helped to open up the new John Kerr Elementary School in 1972-73 as a reading specialist (I had attended the old JKE as a student).
For the past ten years I have had the absolute joy whenever I visited my Georgia family, to be invited to teach at Willis Road Elementary School in Sharpsburg, Ga. Even though my grandsons are now in the middle school and high school, I was recently in Mrs. Eve Johnson’s fifth-grade social studies classes making history come alive for her students. I relied on what I learned many years ago while working on my Master of Education degree at U.Va. in the late 1960’s-early 70’s. I not only had the privilege of having Dr. Edmund Henderson for a professor at the Curry School, but he was my adviser as well. From the first night in his class to my recent visit to Mrs. Johnson’s classroom, his definition of reading has inspired me to “stay the course” during these turbulent times when the storms of change have threatened public education.
When someone inquires about what I have been doing since retiring from teaching, I quickly respond by saying, “I may have retired from the classroom in July 1991 but never from education or life!” I believe I am the happiest when I am teaching, so I certainly do agree with Mr. Jefferson when he said, “It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give me happiness.”
Therefore, in my 78th year, it would give me great pleasure to continue to promote the missions of the Curry School of Education by sharing my lifetime experiences. I believe this will not only help to build a firm foundation for the present students who will be seeking employment in the near future, but I believe the Curry School of Education can be a visible and vital presence in today’s public schools by lending support to our current teachers who need a positive spark of encouragement.
Patsy Gochenour's Curry Memory
“On the first night of class, Dr. Henderson asked his students to define ‘reading and how one might teach a person to read.’ Of course, you can imagine how many different answers he received, especially since the class was mostly made up of elementary school teachers. To this day, I can still recall the lengthy class discussion we had and Dr. Henderson smiling as we tried to define reading but using far too many words. It was only at the end of class that he went to the blackboard and wrote, ‘Reading is a cognitive process. It is not what you get from the page but rather what you bring to the page to interact with the page.’”