Finishing the best job: Elder to retire after 30 years

Published Saturday, February 2, 2019
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Kasi Elder points out no day at work is the same for her.

But it’s those unexpected moments that’s made her job as the physical education teacher at Rann Elementary one she wouldn’t trade.

RELISHING HER ROLE – For the past 19 years as the Rann Elementary physical education teacher, Kasi Elder said she’s enjoyed the best job in the district. She will retire at the end of the school year, her 30th in education. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“It’s the best job in the school district,” Elder said. “Where else do you get to play every day, wear sweats and get to know every kid?”

Elder, who has spent 22 years in Decatur, will retire at the end of the school year. The Decatur alumna and former star athlete, who went on to play basketball at Sam Houston State, will complete her 30th year in education.

“I could have retired last year at 29, but it didn’t seem a very good number,” Elder said. “I’d always talked about when Bryce, my youngest [son] got through that I’d probably retire. And then he got that opportunity to play baseball [at the University of Texas], and I wanted to travel with him.”

Elder started as a fifth-grade teacher in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” said Elder, crediting the influence of her second-grade teacher.

She took a job as a reading teacher at Decatur ISD when her oldest son, Erik, started school. She held that position for three years and then moved into coaching PE at Rann when Carson Elementary opened. It’s a role she’s relished.

“I never had a job that I didn’t like,” Elder said. “Coaching and teaching, I liked them all. But you’re limited in the classroom. I had 20 to 22 babies, or in middle school I had those 70 kids or so that were in my courses. But in PE, you get everybody, so I get to know everybody in the school and I love that.”

Over the past 19 years, she admits that she’s seen a little bit of everything. Elder said she wished she would have written down a few stories to put in a book.

While every day and class period is different, one thing is consistent – the joy of the students. She points out that on her worst day, the kids can bring a smile to her face.

“They love PE class and love to play,” Elder said. “Even on my worst day, when you feel your worst or look the worst, somebody will say, ‘You look so pretty Coach Elder.’ You think, how can that be? Or they want to come give you a hug.”

Many of her students have gone on to be star athletes at Decatur High School and beyond, getting their start in her class. She’s enjoyed getting a chance to follow their careers on the playing field and other paths.

“It’s very rewarding to get to see them grow up,” Elder said. “I get them when they’re in kindergarten, when they can’t open the door or push the button on the water fountain. They leave here well on their way to being productive citizens. I get to watch them in the stands and watch them compete, whether it’s an athletic event, music event, theatre or ag. I get to see which avenue they pick to go.”

One of her goals has been to instill good nutrition and fitness habits in her students.

“I want them to realize the importance of lifelong fitness,” she said. “You don’t have to be in sports to be physically fit.”

One of the ways she started students on the right path is with her annual fun run, which she picked up while teaching at Eagle Mountain-Saginaw. She started them at Rann, and now all three Decatur elementaries hold fun runs.

“Some don’t always love it,” Elder said. “But I tear up each year, watching them finish and seeing how they progress.”

She offers one bit of advice for her students.

“My one classroom rule is to do your best. If you do your best, it’s good enough,” Elder said.

Several members of the school’s state championship cross country teams began running during the Rann Fun Run. She always enjoys digging up their old times to see how they have progressed when they visit the campus during their state sendoffs.

“I love it when we do the sendoffs and go by Rann,” said cross country coach David Park. “So many of my runners went to Rann, which can’t be coincidence. She gets the love of running started with them at such a young age.

“She’s done such an outstanding job. She takes their success to heart and kids feed off a person that wants to see them succeed.”

As the calendar rolls by on her last school year, Elder said there’s been a bittersweet feeling with each event. She knows she will miss the fun runs and field days, along with her many coworkers and colleagues. But mostly, she will miss the smiling faces that made her job the best in the district.

“It’s such a great job that you wake up and don’t mind going. I just love it and want to be here,” Elder said.

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