By Bob Skolnik
Judy Sayre is not the only teacher who has taught for more than 30 years in Riverside Elementary School District 96 that is retiring this year. Central School kindergarten teacher Sue Scaggs is also calling it quits after spending the last 33 years teaching in District 96, the last 32 years at Central.
Scaggs was known as a warm, fun-loving teacher. She would occasionally bring her pets, a rabbit, a dog and a bird named Little Jerry Seinfeld, to school.
Scaggs began her career at Elizabeth Ide School in Darien where she taught second grade for one year before landing a job teaching sixth-grade English, language arts and social studies at Hauser Junior High.
After one year at Hauser she moved over to Central School to teach first grade. She taught first grade at Central for the next 26 years. Six years ago, she was assigned to teach kindergarten.
"A great human being who is the perfect kindergarten teacher," is the way Merryl Brownlow, District 96's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, described Scaggs. "What you want in kindergarten is someone with a warm heart like her. She loves every child for who they are, brings the best out of each one of them."
Scaggs made up songs to teach spelling, arithmetic, reading, and she even created a song about digestion.
"She's like the perfect mix of warm and fun and structure," said Amy Hill, whose two kids both had Scaggs as a teacher. "I think she was both of my kids' favorite teacher."
Juliet Boyd agrees. Boyd's daughter Brooke, who just graduated from eighth grade, had Scaggs as her first-grade teacher.
"She helped my daughter Brooke who was having some issues learning how to read," Boyd said. "District 96 is going to be losing a star with Sue retiring."
Although Scaggs was a fun teacher she had a firm grasp on her classroom.
"She challenged the kids," Boyd said. "She was one of those people who could be so kind and emphatic, but no one pushed her around."
Central School second-grade teacher Kelly Sherman was in Scaggs' first-grade class during the 1997-98 school year. She remembers first grade as a fun year. Her class put on plays for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"I woke up every day excited to go to school," Sherman said in an email. "I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in first grade, and I think that has to do with how fun and interesting she made class."
Born on Christmas Day, Scaggs is the oldest of three children. When she and her sister played school as children, Sue was always the teacher. She even created and passed out worksheets and graded and kept her sister's work.
"I always wanted to be a teacher, even when I was a little girl," Scaggs said. "I always liked working with kids and I always wanted to help people in some capacity."
Scaggs, 56, took the school board up on the early retirement incentive in the most recent teacher contract. With that contract expiring, now was the time to strike.
"I thought, you know what, I'm going to take them up on that, so that I have some time to do nice things with my husband and have some fun with my family," Scaggs said.
She and her husband enjoy the outdoors, camping, fishing, and bike riding and she'll have more time to do that.
But it's still hard to walk away from Central School.
"I'm going to miss teaching; I know I will," Scaggs said. "I'll miss all my friends, I'll miss the children and the all the nice parents I've been able to work with. And my administrators have been wonderful too. I will miss everyone."