By The Hampton Herald Staff
Mr. Wade, one of the fourth-grade teachers at Hampton, will be saying goodbye at the end of this year. To celebrate his 36-year career, the Hampton Herald staff spent some time with Mr. Wade asking him questions about teaching and this next chapter.
Staff: Our first question is when did you start teaching?
Mr. Wade: When Tyrannosaurus was roaming the Earth. No no, I started in 1985. April Fool’s Day 1985. I think the joke was on me.
Staff: Have you done any other type of jobs besides teaching?
Mr. Wade: Oh yes, yes, so going back to 1985…during summers I was driving a truck. I was delivering auto glass. Then after I started teaching, I got a job at a record store because I really like music and I worked there after school and during summer for I think three years, something like that. Since then, goodness I worked for a landscaper for a couple summers, I cut grass for a different company for a couple of summers. I worked for a company called Retail Grocery Inventory Service, so a team of us would go to store and we would count the items in the store. They would assign me a department, and I would just start counting things in the store. I worked in a funeral home. In a funeral home, they have these rooms they set up with chairs and flowers for the families of people who have died, and that’s what I would do. I used something in each of those jobs in teaching.
Staff: Did you teach in any other place besides Hampton?
Mr. Wade: Yes, I first started teaching out of college as a long-term substitute teacher at Brooklyn Park Elementary School, which is in northern Anne Arundel County. Then I taught at Woodside Elementary School in Anne Arundel County for six years. Then in 1991 I left Anne Arundel County and came to Baltimore County at Hampton Elementary School, and I’ve been at Hampton ever since.
Staff: What advice would you give to a new teacher?
Mr. Wade: Well, of my goodness, there’s so much I could say. I think probably the most important thing is that this job takes a lot of time, so a new teacher has to put teaching aside and planning and grading papers aside and spend time for themselves. Then I would also say, even though it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of fun. Teaching is a lot of fun. Don’t let the work overwhelm you. Enjoy the job, enjoy your students, and have fun.
Staff: How was your experience during virtual learning, especially because it was your last year?
Mr. Wade: You know what, I learned so much during virtual learning about using technology and different ways to use technology in the virtual classroom and I’m kind of bummed that I can’t use some of those things in the regular classroom. It’s not the same having this hybrid situation we have now. I can imagine that I could make use of for example Google Meets, even though all the students would be in the classroom. Then the whiteboard.com. I can see that being a very powerful tool with everyone in the classroom also. So, I’m kind of bummed that I’m not going to be able to do that, but I’ll get over it. Also, as far as virtual learning goes, it’s not the way I wanted my last year to go, but we don’t have control over that. It’s definitely going to be a memorable last year. It really will be.
Staff: What were your greatest memories and what were your greatest experiences while teaching?
Mr. Wade: There really are so many, but I would have to say that I will remember, I guess first of all, the people that I’ve worked with over the years and how much I’ve learned from them. Another thing I will carry with me are different instances where a student’s really struggled with something and then they finally get it, they finally understand it, and then seeing how proud they are of doing something. Those are some things that I’ll remember about teaching. As far as ways that I’ve changed, I can remember coming to Hampton in 1991, and I had a whole different way of teaching. Obviously, we weren’t using computers then, we were using chalk on a chalk board. A lot of the teaching was done by explaining thins to the boys and girls; we weren’t going a lot of group work. So, I’ll remember how those things kind of evolved and changed over the years.
Staff: What are your plans for retirement?
Mr. Wade: Well, my options are open. I have started another job. I’ve been hired anyway; I haven’t really started. I’ll be working at Lutherville’s Active Minds part time. I still want to work; I don’t want to sit around the house and do nothing. I like money. I will be working. I will most likely be substituting at Hampton next year. I will probably substitute at Ridgley too, so you guys at Ridgley will probably see me every once in a while. I want to travel. Mrs. Wade and I already have plans to go away for a short stay in Cape May in the fall. Teachers don’t get to go on vacation in the fall. We’re too busy teaching and starting the school year, so I’m really looking forward to that. Then, looking out a little bit further, we want to go to Italy. We want to go to Jackson Hole Wyoming. That’s another reason I have to work because I have to pay for all these trips.
Staff: What’s your favorite subject to teach?
Mr. Wade: I have a couple and I’m going to miss teaching math and science. I’m going to continue to read about science because I really enjoy all different kinds of science, especially astronomy. There used to be a space unit in the 4th grade, and I really enjoyed teaching that. I also like math. I got a couple of math books that I’m going to be reading this summer. When I as in college I got a degree in history, so I also like learning about history, and I like teaching it too. Language arts…I like reading, but there’s too many ways to interpret what you read and that makes teaching language arts difficult.
Staff: When is your exact retirement date?
Mr. Wade: The exact date is June 30th, so after June 30th I will be getting a pension instead of a paycheck.
Staff: Did you enjoy living in the neighborhood where you teach?
Mr. Wade: That was a good move—literally and figuratively. It was a good move because first of all I saved a lot of money on gas and wear and tear on my car. I used to live in Perry Hall before we moved to this neighborhood. It’s really only a nine-minute ride from where we lived to school if there was no traffic, but I had traffic in the morning and the afternoon, and it made a nine-minute ride sometimes 45 minutes and that sucks up the gas and the car itself would need a lot of maintenance, so I saved a lot of money. It was also a good move because I still do see students and families of students, current and former, around the neighborhood when I walk the dogs and if you’ve been one of my students you’ve heard me say “Make sure you behave in the classroom because when I’m walking my dogs, if your parents ask me how things ae going in the classroom I’m not going to lie to them.” So in that sense, I think it was kind of helpful too. I taught my next door neighbor, I taught the boys and girls who live behind me, so it’s nice to see them grow up. They’re all out of Hampton, some of them are middle school, some are in high school, some of them have even graduated, so that’s really cool to see.
Staff: It seems like you have a lot of kids in your neighborhood!
Mr. Wade: That’s really nice to see too. I’m not going to see it anymore, but in the past I’d see the younger kids playing in the neighborhood and then they’d come up through fourth grade and I’d get to know them in a different way and know their parents, so that is one of things I’m going to miss. Now they will just be kids in the neighborhood, and I won’t’ really get to know them as students. Maybe I’ll have to start tutoring, I don’t know.
Staff: What are you most excited about?
Mr. Wade: Trying new things. I’ve got all kinds of ideas. I told you about substituting, and I’m kind of looking forward to that because if I don’t feel like teaching that day, then I won’t accept the substitute job. But, if I need the money and none of the teachers are sick, then what I am going to do? Another idea I have is something fun to do and to make a little extra money. My daughter and I went up to New York a couple of summers ago and we were sitting in Bryant Park and there was a guy there who was renting out board games. He had about 20 or 30 different board games on his cart, and you could go give him five dollars and rent the game and play the game. And I thought “What a cool idea!” I like playing board games, I like being outside; I might do that somewhere. You might see me on a soccer field or a baseball diamond with a box of games that I’m renting out for people while they watch their kids play soccer or baseball. I took a writing course, and I fell in love with writing through that course. I even tried to publish some of the things I wrote with that course. I got a lot of rejections when I would send those stories in, but I got a couple rejections that were not quite rejections. They would say “I really like this story, we can’t use it right now in this issue of the magazine, but we’re writing a magazine about this next quarter, so could you write a story about that?” So that wasn’t totally a rejection, it was like “We like your writing, submit something else.” So I think I might do some of that too.
Staff: What are you going to miss about teaching?
Mr. Wade: Well, oh my goodness, I don’t really know yet because…I think as you guys come back to school next year and I’m not coming back to school I am sure that I will miss things that didn’t expect. I imagine that I am going to miss all the people I work with for one, we all get along and we all have fun together. Another thing I am going to miss is I guess the challenge. I am constantly solving problems, and I don’t mean that in a bad way, just like someone can’t figure out how to log into their computer, so I am constantly solving problems and helping people out and I imagine I am going to miss that too. I think that’s probably why I decided to work at Active Minds so I could still be in that kind of mind frame where I am helping people learn and helping people solve problems,
Staff: When you retire, are you going to move away?
Mr. Wade: You know, we’ve talked about that. It wouldn’t happen any time soon, but now that Mrs. Wade is retired too and I’m retired, we are the only ones living I the house and it’s getting kind of big for us. We’re thinking that down the road, maybe five or 10 years from now, that we’ll sell our house, and we’ll move into a condominium in Towson, or we’ll go to Cape May where we like going every summer. It would be pretty cool to live there and not have to travel out there. It’s not going to happen right away, but it will probably happen in a few years.
Staff: Why did you decide to retire?
Mr. Wade: A lot of things went into that decision. I knew that I would be doing it eventually, like soon, even though I didn’t plan on doing it this soon. Mrs. Wade had some health issues that pretty much forced her to retire, and if I retire I get a pension and if I get another job somewhere, that would be like the two salaries that we had when Mrs. Wade and I were working, so that was one of the reasons. Mrs. Wade retired in November, and we found out that we were ale to afford to live on just my salary for the past couple of months, but with all the things that happened with coronavirus and hybrid leaning and all that stuff, I decided “I’m just going to retire.” And I know what I’m going to miss, and what was really hard about making that decision, was that I was going to miss the people I work with but I’m also going to miss working with the boys and girls, but Baltimore County Public Schools helped me with that with all the poor decisions they made this year.
Staff: What are you most excited for?
Mr. Wade: Being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I think it’s kind of like you guys at summer, right? You have to be in school every single day during the week and you have to do homework when it’s assigned and all that stuff, and it’s the same for teachers. When summer starts, it’s like “I can go to the bathroom when I want to. I don’t have to wait until the boys and girls are in special or at lunch,” so I’m kind of looking forward to that. Not going to the bathroom—but doing things when I want to do them. Like reading books just for fun. Teachers only get to do that in the summer; now I can do it anytime. There’s a song by the Crash Test Dummies—it’s an old 90s band--“I’m going to have a receding hairline and then I’ll be waking up with coffee spoons and T.S. Elliot” and every time I hear that song I think “That guy is just getting up whenever he wants.” One of the lines says he’s wearing his pajamas or his robe all day so nothing is holding him down. He’s reading poetry and drinking coffee, probably on the deck, and that’s probably what I’ll be doing a lot more.
Staff: What are your greatest memories?
Mr. Wade: So, I remember way back when I started at Hampton, back in 1991, the faculty and staff was really welcoming. That was a crazy year, we got married in 1990, my daughter Meagan was born in May 1991. I started teaching at Hampton in a new county—it’s brand-new job—in August of 1991, and then in October we moved into a house, so that was super crazy year and the people that worked here, the other teachers, were really helpful. They welcomed me, they helped me out. Here I am, they didn’t know me, and they gave me this housewarming party and all kinds of stuff like tools and things for the house, so that was a really cool memory. Then I remember teaching during 9/11. That was a weird time because all of the sudden parents started calling to have boys and girls go home and we didn’t know what was going on. You know how it is when you/re in the classroom, you have no contact with the outside world. Then we started hearing about the terrible news that the planes ran into the twin towers. Oh goodness, snow days. They are one thing that I am going to miss. Snow days! They are so magical! I can remember, I think it was 2010, we had two blizzards I think It was five days apart and we were out of school for a long time. Then, let’s see, yes, singing and dancing in the musical. It was “Santa’s Stuck in the 50s.” I was Santa Claus, and yes, I had to sing and dance. There are YouTube videos of it out there. My daughter posted it on YouTube, so thank you very much Meagan. So that was definitely a memory! Wow, there are a lot. Field trips—I’m going to remember those field trips. That Annapolis field trip, that was a field trip that I put in a lot of time and effort and planning. It was one of my favorite field trips. But also the camp Puh’tok field trips! I have great memories from that and the One Straw Farm field trips. We used to do a field trip, actually it wasn’t a field trip. We would have this lady come to school; it was called Mrs. Betty’s Trunk. Every year when we studied colonial America we would invite Mrs. Betty’s Trunk and it would take the whole day. She’d bring all these colonial crafts. She had the boys and girls make corn husk dolls, she’d show them how to bend it, twist it, and tie to make the dolls. She had the boys and girls making candles. Another thing that I’ll remember, I used to teach 5th grade here at Hampton, that the end of the year we’d have field days, and they were some really fun times and those graduation ceremonies. I guess you guys are getting ready for that now, and a lot of planning went into that. They were very memorable, some sad times seeing the boys and girls that I worked with for a couple of years leave, but those are some of the memories. I could go on and on about memories.
Staff: During that musical is that when you got that Santa Claus outfit?
Mr. Wade: It is, we actually did the musical twice. The first time I borrowed a Santa Claus outfit, and then the second time the guy I borrowed it from didn’t have it, so I went out and bought one. So I have Santa Claus outfit that I’m not really going to have a use for, so maybe I have to come back next Christmas. Maybe Santa is just going to have to walk through the school next Christmas.
Mr. Wade has been a fixture at Hampton Elementary School for thirty years. All of his coworkers and students have appreciated everything he has done for the school community. Ms. Patek, the moderator of The Hampton Herald, has been on the same team with Mr. Wade the past several years, and she is immeasurably grateful for his mentorship and friendship. The entire Hampton community wishes him all the best for this next chapter!