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Teacher of 50 years gets surprise from elementary school


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RIVERTON — Tracy Draper first walked into Linda Warwood's first grade class in 1962.

Beautiful, neatly dressed with her hair piled high in a beehive, it was Warwood's first year teaching at Riverton Elementary. Fifty years later, the teacher is still in the same school teaching the same class she's taught to 1,500 students. To celebrate the landmark, the school staged a surprise assembly in honor of Warwood.

"She was strict, but kind in being strict," Draper said. "She expected you to do your best."

With no plans to retire, Warwood's motivation is simple to explain.

"I just wanted always to be able to teach children to learn to read," Warwood said.

The school's demographics have changed from a rural community to an active suburb of Salt Lake, but her expectations of her students haven't. In the ‘60s, most of Warwood's students lived on farms, and, she says, they knew how to work hard.

"In some ways they're much smarter coming into school (now), in other ways they need to be a little more work-ethic oriented because I think we've kind of lost that," Warwood said.

Those changes have been met with others, she says: more tests, worse manners and more peanut allergies. She can't bring in her famous peanut butter rice crispy treats anymore.

But one thing hasn't: every morning when she wakes up she still wants to go to work.

"You really have to love it," Warwood said. "You can't do this if you don't love it."

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Nadine Wimmer

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