Riverton Elementary celebrates teacher's 50th year at the school

Riverton Elementary • A one-day-at-a-time approach has kept Linda Warwood's teaching career fresh.
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Linda Warwood walked into the auditorium at Riverton Elementary unaware of what was awaiting her.

As she walked through the door, she found an entire school of children and teachers, as well as family and friends, waiting to celebrate her.

Surprise, indeed.

"I had no idea that that was taking place," Warwood said. "I'm sure everyone saw the look on my face as I entered the gym. I turned around and my brother said 'I think she's going to run.' It was a lovely day and a great thought from the school and the teachers and the kids."

The event held earlier this month was to honor Warwood for her 50 years as a first-grade teacher at the school.

Fifty years. One school.

As the city turned from rural farmland to a bustling city suburb, one thing remained the same. Warwood continued to mold first-graders.

Her tenure has spanned two buildings — the old school on Redwood Road closed when the current building opened in the 1990s — and generations of students.

Scott Thomas, now an administrator with Jordan School District, was in Warwood's class in 1973. Twenty-four years later, his daughter Kylie learned in her class.

"We were very excited," Thomas said. "When she had been in her class a couple of months, we went to her parent-teacher conference. I got Miss Warwood some flowers, and as we were waiting in the hall, she looked out and pointed and said, 'I think I know that guy.'

"My daughter will tell you, she's still her favorite teacher of all-time. There are those teachers that kind of stand out in your memory that you'll never forget and she was definitely a standout teacher. Just an amazing lady."

Warwood said her approach to teaching has been a simple one — if she continues to enjoy it, there's no need to quit. That one-year-at-a-time approach has kept her commuting from Orem, rain or shine.

She may have had chances to leave for positions at other schools or in other grades, but never had the urge for change.

"People used to ask how many years I've been teaching, and I always used to say, 'I don't know. A lot,' " Warwood said. "I never looked at it that way. I always looked at it as it's a new year, and how can I find new ways to teach the children."

Warwood said the biggest differences between now and when she started teaching mostly center on educational tools — laptops, SMART boards, iPads — and emphasis from outside influences.

There also has been a shift in work ethic of students now, compared to those raised in the farming community in the 1960s.

"Not that they are lazy now, but farmers used to get up early and go to work and that was their thing," Warwood said. "We are much more into computers now, which gives you a different ethic.

"We have a lot more testing now and we have a lot more expectations in education now. It always seems like we're trying to reinvent the wheel, when really what we should be adding to the wheel that's already there and making it better."

Warwood isn't sure how much longer she will teach — she turned 72 earlier this month — but until she does, she's sure to continue to be a major influence on 5- and 6-year olds in Riverton.

"She was an amazing teacher," Thomas said. "I remember just how attentive she was to her students. She brought her 'A' game every day. She made you feel like you were the most important person in her class."


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Golden anniversary

Linda Warwood is in her 50th year teaching first grade at Riverton Elementary.

The school through a surprise celebration earlier this month to honor Warwood, complete with balloons and bagpipe music.

Warwood, 72, has taught generations in the Riverton community and has plans to retire in the near future.