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Longtime teacher 'graduates'




PHILLIPSBURG -- After 38 years at Phillipsburg High School, Vickie Constable isn't just retiring.

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PHILLIPSBURG -- After 38 years at Phillipsburg High School, Vickie Constable isn't just retiring.

In her words, she's "graduating with the class of 2013."

Constable, who taught 21st century journalism, graphic design, yearbook and college composition this year, began teaching at PHS in 1975.

Since then, she and her students have compiled an impressive number of awards including eight state championships.

Several former students have made careers in print journalism, including Brennen Engle, who was covering Constable's retirement reception Wednesday for the local weekly newspaper.

Constable said it's nice to see a former student covering local events.

Other former students have gone on to work in marketing, advertising, graphic design and even Web designing, she said.

"The kids are motivated," Todd Bowman, PHS principal, said of Constable's students. "They want to do well for her."

"We learned quite a few things along the way," said Wade Kennedy, one of the Panther Pause newspaper's editors. "She taught a lot of life lessons."

Two of Constable's students designed and printed a T-shirt for the team to wear at this year's state competition that reflects her teaching philosophy.

The students' names form a "V" on the T-shirt front, "because I want them following the lead goose," Constable said.

The shirt has one of Constable's sayings about "a cow and a half" on the back.

"We have purple cows (a mixture of ice cream and grape pop) after the paper comes out," she said.

"She's definitely crazy," said Marrae Jerby, the paper's editor-in-chief. "There's never a dull moment in the classroom. ... She's always somebody that you can go to to relieve your stress on."

Constable's colleagues agree.

"She's the most positive person," said Donna Jarvis, who teaches math at PHS. "Everybody on the staff -- she makes you feel like you are doing the best job in the world. She's so encouraging."

Constable might be retiring from the daily classroom, but she's going to "get together with (this year's) juniors on staff (and) take them to lunch, and stay in contact because those are really my kids."

She and her husband, Steve, plan to travel and spend time with their grandchildren.

Constable isn't the only longtime educator retiring this year from USD 325.

Michela Hiesterman, USD 325 counselor for grades K-8 for 18 years, also is retiring.

She has a total of 32 years in education including a stint as assistant women's basketball coach at Barton County Community College.

"I've always been in education somewhere," Hiesterman said.

She will miss the children and "those hugs and (hearing them say) 'Hi, Mrs. Hiesterman.' "

Her husband is a preacher at First Lutheran Church, and she plans to work with him updating the church's technology and helping her parents.