Memories for Marsha: Tahoe teacher retiring after 34 years
Special to the Bonanza
Celebration on June 16
A retirement party will be held for Marsha Tejeda Sunday, June 16, from 1-4 p.m. at the Third Creek Clubhouse at 929 Northwood Blvd.
Friends, former students and residents are invited to attend at the for an open house celebration with food, drink and great memories.
Signs will be posted in designated parking spots (or you could be towed) or parking is available on Northwood Blvd. RSVP: Lenty Hagen, 775-832-0857.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — In her classroom is a chalkboard colorfully filled with recent student writings to her — many of well wishes and some expressing sadness.
After 34 years of teaching Incline Middle School students, Marsha Tejeda is moving on.
In her last weeks of teaching, Tejeda has been clearing out cupboards, boxes and file cabinets of memorabilia from her classroom.
“I’ve got 30 years of stuff here. I don’t know what I’ll do with it all,” she said. “I have so many things I have saved from my students.”
She holds up poster boards of photos of her with her students, actively engaged in projects and school plays. She points to decades of student artwork and projects on the walls of her classroom.
“The most important thing to her is the kids,” said former Incline teacher and Tejeda’s good friend, Lenty Hagen. “She gets to know every child on a personal level.
“She is always eager to volunteer and goes far beyond what is asked of her.”
As an example of the latter, Hagen said Tejeda would often buy classroom supplies with her own money.
Eighth-grade student Brandon Swick had Marsha Tejeda for Greek mythology and social studies this year.
“She makes the class really interesting,” Swick said. “It wasn’t just reading out of a book.”
He told of a social studies project where students had to make something using makeshift tools and materials found in nature. He constructed a spear out of a long stick, forming a point on it with a sharp rock.
Every year, Tejeda teaches more than 100 sixth- through eighth-grade students. She quickly learns all of their names. This year, she taught three social studies classes, a drama class and a computer class.
Tejeda is now teaching the children of students she had a generation ago, children she calls her “grand students.”
She said she prefers teaching middle school-age students.
“That age is sort of no man’s land,” she said. “They can’t decide if they are elementary school students or high school students. It’s a hard age.”
Tejeda said she wants to help them through that stage of their lives. She’s had some rebellious, angry and unhappy students every year, and she tries to help them come around.
“I really don’t have discipline problems,” she said. “They just have to know you love and care about them.”
Tejeda grew up in Marin County. Her family had a cabin in the Tahoe area they would visit regularly, and she grew to love Lake Tahoe.
She moved to Incline Village in 1977 and began teaching in 1979, when class sizes were high — in the mid 30s — and more teachers were needed.
Tejeda’s son and daughter went through the Incline schools.
Tejeda has a passion for musicals and plays and has directed her students in productions and set-building much of her teaching career, done with what little free time she had.
“Some of my favorite memories are of opening night shows. In a way it is like being in labor and giving birth, in this case to a production,” she said. “I have it organized down to a gnat’s eye.”
Her class came in second place in a national set design contest in 2002, which she attributes to great work by her students, with help from their parents.
Tejeda loves technology and worked to put 7,000 card-cataloged school books on a computer cataloguing system. She also has an Incline business called Computer Tutor, teaching technology to older adults.
Tejeda doesn’t know what her future will bring, although she hopes to stay in Incline Village.
“I’m leaving all my options open. I’ll see what comes down the pike,” she said.
Reflecting on her career, she said, “Most of all I’ll miss the kids. They give you a lot of vitality. If I can send them out into the world, better equipped to understand the world, that to me is a huge accomplishment.”
Frank Fisher is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. He can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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