Staff Spotlight: Kristi Messner

This month’s Team Member Spotlight features…
Kristi Messner, a 43-year teaching veteran from Terrebonne Community School! 
Kristi Messner, a 43-year veteran teacher from Terrebonne Community School!
 
 

Learn more about Kristi Messner, who has been shaping the lives of Redmond’s students for 43 years! 
 
You’ve worked for RSD for 43 years. Did you plan to stay for your entire career, and what was it that appealed to you about RSD back then? What grades have you taught and where?

A week or so before spring vacation of my senior year in college I had a contract coming in the mail (it only required a signature) from John Day School District. Before it arrived, I got a call from Brown School in Redmond, which I picked up and answered with some silly response like Joe’s Bar and Grill — we didn’t have caller ID back then! Oops. I was asked if I would like to interview during break for a first-grade position.  It was my dream job. So I interviewed, got the job and quickly called and apologized to the nice people in John Day. 

Not only did I love the description of the job, I also desperately loved the little town of Redmond with both its livestock auction and fairgrounds right in the middle of town. My, how things have changed. I held that position for the next few years. I was laid off during a big layoff in the early 80s and was hired back that same summer as a special education teacher at Hill School. I loved the littles, so I jumped at a mid-year first-grade opening at Brown School. I have taught first, second or a blend of those two grades ever since. Any thoughts of moving stopped when I got married and moved to the Terrebonne community and started teaching at the school. This has become our community, through and through.  

Can you give me a few of your favorite memories from your years working here? 

Oh my gosh, really? I have been so fortunate to have spent the last 43 years (how can that be?) working with some of the most amazing people, families and children. I had a wonderful family of friends when I worked in town and then added a whole new family at Terrebonne. There are so many memories and so much laughter. 

I do have to say, I still crack up when my “old” first-graders get to about fourth grade and come to say hi. I am very, very short! When they come to the door they never look me in the eye, they just look at the top of my head to see if they are taller than me — and usually they are! 

Another early memory was when one of my first-graders brought her uncle to a parent conference. I was fresh out of college and unmarried.  Evidently she thought we would make a good match — I didn’t. 

What do you enjoy most or find most rewarding about your role? What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced this year? 

One of the things I have always enjoyed about teaching is that every year, every day is different on some level. And yet, sometimes it is the most frustrating thing. If you get bored easily, be a teacher. Students are new, families are new, the curriculum changes, and there is always something you can be learning to make you a better person and teacher. I also love that I laugh every day. My kids laugh at me and with me. I laugh with staff members. 

This year was definitely a huge learning year.  One big challenge was teaching online. I kind of love tech but … not like we had to use it this year. Don’t get me wrong, GoogleMeets were better than nothing, but it is hard to read your audience online. Keeping kids engaged is a huge part of teaching, and online teaching just didn’t cut it. Then when we came back to our classroom and we couldn’t move around the room, have kids work with a partner, lock elbows and dance, or sit in a community circle, that was hard. 

However, we have made adjustments to much of that and things are better. (Yep, we are having our community circle, moving around and dancing.) Again, teaching is never boring! 

Is it bittersweet to end your career with COVID at the forefront of this year of teaching?

I am not going to lie. It has been a hard year. But it has also been a year of learning. I feel for all our parents, students and staff. I wouldn’t say ending my career this year is bittersweet. Having  kiddos in my room and staff back in the building is what it is all about.  This year’s crop of first-graders are just as fun as they have ever been. 

Tell me about some of the changes you’ve seen in education over your 43 years in teaching.

Oh my — I don’t think we have enough time! I started when you didn’t have a phone in your classroom, your hands were always purple from the mimeograph machine, you checked a real “mailbox” for any mail or paper messages from parents, staff or principal, and dresses were smiled upon while jeans were frowned upon. As for education, we are still learning about the best ways to teach children. It is an imperfect art, but over the years we have become more intentional and we have better research to help us. I loved teaching reading then and I love it now, although some of our techniques have changed. But kids are still individuals with their own back stories, weaknesses, strengths and thoughts that educators take into consideration. Teaching isn’t like being a banker and having your books balanced at the end of the day because there is always one more thing you could improve, do, try, or learn.  That hasn’t changed in 43 years.

What will you do in retirement? 

I am blessed to have two Tims in my life: my husband Tim and my son Tim. I will probably drive them a little crazy as I try to “catch up” with all the things I plan to do around our place. I also  plan to spend more time with family, friends, and my animals, as well as play outside, ride my horses and fully enjoy weekends now that I have all week to do the mundane things! 

 

“The great Maya Angelou had a saying…You know better, you do better!  After 43 years in the classroom, most of it at the 1st grade level, one would think putting professional life in cruise control could be the norm.  Not for Kristi.  Kristi is the epitome of what I look for when hiring new staff.  Beyond her sheer dedication to her students and families, she has a perpetual learners mentality.  She is never satisfied with the status quo and is always seeking new ways to improve her students’ outcomes.  Kristi knew better for 43 years…and because of this, she did better!  Thank you Kristi for your many years of service to our Terrebonne students, families, and the community!  You will be missed!” — Trevor Flaherty, principal, Terrebonne Community School
 
“Kristi Messner is a true Redmond School District gem! She has a smile and a positive spirit that lights up any room. Kristi’s steadfast heart for kids, combined with her amazing talent as a teacher of young learners has helped put so many students on a strong pathway for learning. We wish Kristi the best as her next adventure unfolds. She will be missed!” — Linda Seeberg, Executive Director of Academic Programs