KETCHIKAN - For 17 years, Mary McDonald made a career teaching fourth and fifth grade at Houghtaling Elementary.
Three generations of women teach in Ketchikan school 102809 NEWS 6 Ketchikan Daily News/AP Member Exchange KETCHIKAN - For 17 years, Mary McDonald made a career teaching fourth and fifth grade at Houghtaling Elementary.

Photo By Hall Anderson, Ketchikan Daily News/Ap Member Exchange

Chasina Worman, right, helps out Kanani Halvorsen during a math session in Mark O'Brien's 5th grade class at Houghtaling Elementary School in Ketchikan on Oct. 8. Worman is part of three generations who have taught at Houghtaling, including her mom, Jan Haynes, and grandmother, Mary McDonald.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Story last updated at 10/28/2009 - 12:18 pm

Three generations of women teach in Ketchikan school

KETCHIKAN - For 17 years, Mary McDonald made a career teaching fourth and fifth grade at Houghtaling Elementary.

For the past 10, Jan Haynes has taught at the same school, this year in the universal preschool.

In Mark O'Brien's fifth-grade class at Houghtaling, Chasina Worman is student teaching this year. She is working on a master's degree in education and will complete her student teaching in December.

Besides teaching at the same school, the three women share a much stronger bond as family members.

Haynes followed her mom - McDonald - into teaching and Worman is now following her mom - Haynes - into the profession. That makes three generations who have taught at the same school.

"Never thought I'd become a teacher, but they had an influence. It worked well for them and I think it was natural to follow," Worman said of her mom and grandmother. "They were great teachers and watching them was inspiring."

Worman worked as an aide at Houghtaling for the past two years. She began her student teaching at the first of the school year.

When she was younger, Worman spent time in Haynes' classroom after school "sharpening pencils," but didn't think much about teaching.

However, moving back to Ketchikan after getting an undergraduate degree at Prairie View A&M in Texas, Worman got the aide position working with the reading program. She also worked as a long-term substitute last year.

After that she decided to pursue teaching.

"I found that I enjoyed it. I subbed for awhile and really liked it," Worman said. "I guess that was the beginning. It's neat to see kids grow. It's challenging and it's different every day."

Worman is getting her master's degree from the University of Alaska Southeast Juneau campus.

According to the UAS Juneau Web site, students are recommended for a teaching certificate upon completion of the one-year program. Certification is granted by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

Haynes said she was surprised when Worman decided get a teaching degree.

"I was shocked when she told me she was going to get her master's, but I could kind of see this developing over time," Haynes said. "She has a love of being with the kids and of teaching. She got the bug bad."

When talking about her choice to get into teaching, Worman pointed in the direction of her grandmother's old classroom. McDonald died in 2006.

McDonald team-taught with Clint Pribyl at Houghtaling. Worman is doing her student teaching just one classroom down the hall from her grandmother's.

Haynes remembered when McDonald did her student teaching in Fairbanks during the late 1960s. McDonald would get dressed in her full fur to walk the more than a mile from the apartment to the school where she was teaching, sometimes in temperatures of 50 degrees below zero.

In the early years of McDonald's teaching, Haynes and her brother, Steve McDonald, called themselves guinea pigs, because McDonald tried new teaching methods on them.

"Any new things that came along, whether it was word of the week or whatever, my mom would try it out on he and I in the summer, so we called ourselves guinea pigs from an early age," Haynes said. "We laughed about it, because it was fun."

Even before she became a teacher at Houghtaling, McDonald spent years as a substitute at various schools throughout the district, Haynes said.

"She loved her job and loved kids. Being a teacher was just the way she was," Haynes said.

Haynes ventured into teaching because of a special-needs child she got very close to.

"I just loved her to death and I wanted to work with those kinds of kids - special-needs kids," Haynes said.

She said one reason she went into mainstream education instead of special education was all the paperwork required in special ed. She wanted to spend the time teaching instead.

Haynes got her teaching certificate in 1978, and taught for a couple of years after that, but then took time off to commercial fish.

She returned to Houghtaling 10 years ago, teaching full time.

"I've never really been out of education, I've just been on the side," Haynes said.

She has worked part time for the district in several capacities, including the gifted-and-talented and special-needs programs.

During her career, she's taught primarily in the younger grades. She was a second-grade teacher last year before moving into the district's 4-year-old preschool program this year.

"I really enjoy it. It's high energy, wonderful parents, nice kids. You couldn't ask for any nicer kids, they've been a delight," Haynes said. "We've got to get them prepared for kindergarten."

O'Brien and Haynes each taught first grade at the same time several years ago. Now he is watching Worman develop her teaching skills in his classroom. He sees some similarities in the two styles.

"I see a general positive energetic approach from both of them," O'Brien said. "They have just a wonderful attitude toward the kids and towards embracing the objectives that the district has and making the classroom and learning environment productive for the kids. That's a common thread for both of them," O'Brien said.

During the next few weeks of her student teaching, Worman will get increased responsibility. She will primarily take over the class in November to teach full time.

O'Brien will reclaim more of the day-to-day responsibilities in the final weeks of Worman's student teaching.

O'Brien said the student teaching is a win-win-win situation, for the students, Worman and himself.

"It's good for the kids, good for the student-teacher and it's also something that can inject some new perspective into what I'm doing," O'Brien said. "I think the kids enjoy it a lot. They are looking at the perspective of an old guy and someone who is young and fresh, so it's working out well."

Worman wouldn't speculate on whether she would be able to get a job teaching in a Ketchikan school once she is certified. However, she and her husband, Kyle, plan on remaining in Ketchikan because "it's home."

Haynes said she would love to see her daughter find a full-time place at Houghtaling.

"I hope it works out for her," Haynes said. "She really enjoys it and I hope she's in the building some day teaching, too."