Farewell Ms Chips

Wendy Hornsby

Thirty-eight years ago, on the afternoon I completed the comprehensive exams for my Master’s degree and defended my thesis, a History professor I had met during a summer course at the local community college years earlier, called to ask how it had gone.  He had stayed in touch and offered guidance and mentoring as I worked my way through the various mazes of my academic career.  His graduation gift was the news that he, now department chair, had reserved three History classes in the fall schedule for me to teach.

 Today, thirty-eight years later, I will teach my last class at Long BeachCityCollege.  My husband tried to calculate how many students I had worked with over the years:  seventy-six semesters, plus thirty-six summer sessions times X (a number of students) plus the decade teaching an overload at the local state university.  His answer was somewhere north of twenty-thousand.  Never mind how many student papers I’ve read:  the number boggles the mind.  Scrambles the brain, actually.  I can’t say I have loved them all, but I learned something from every one of them.

 My official retirement date is the day after graduation, a week from today.  One last afternoon spent rocking to the happy beat of “Pomp and Circumstance” while sweltering under a black robe and velvet hood, cheering on the current batch of happy, shiny faces, sending them off to whatever is next.  But for today, in Western Civ. I’ll take down the Berlin Wall for the last time.  In U.S. History we will, once again, wince and rue over the failures of Reconstruction.  And then I will bequeath my bundle of whiteboard markers to my office mate, hand my collection of maps and films to colleagues, turn in my keys, and head off into whatever is next.


8 Responses

  1. Congratulations, Wendy. I am in awe of your accomplishments. xo, Kirsten

  2. Hooray for you! For the years, but also for the retirement. There’s a lot to be said for having years ahead in which to make your own history.

  3. Bravo, Wendy! I also retired after teaching enough college students to populate a small but literate town. Retirement is good, but I sometimes miss the students and find myself babbling lectures in my sleep. Take care.

  4. Congratulations on 38 years teaching history, Wendy. Hope you have a great retirement. More time to write mysteries, I hope. I retired this year after many decades as a social studies editor, first for an encyclopedia, then for an educational book publisher, and finally as a freelancer. History (especially American history) was my area.. Went to a Friends of the Library book sale recently, and just had to buy three used history texts. Just couldn’t stop myself. I’ve been reading your books since the Kate Teague series and finished “The Hanging” not too long ago. Hope you have some more Maggie books in the works.

    Margaret Franson

    • Once a teacher, always a teacher I suppose. I may yet teach a class a two somewhere. Margaret, there’s another Maggie book in the offing. Meredith tells me the edited Ms for next spring’s book, The Last Frame, is about to hit my doorstep. Such fun!

      • Good to hear about the new book, Wendy. Hope you like the edited version of The Last Frame. I enjoyed editing, but when I wrote articles or chapters for middle school and high school texts, it wasn’t as much fun receiving back the version edited by one or two other people. Although I understood the reasons for the edits, it was like someone was changing my baby.

  5. A good editor makes a good book better. I generally appreciate the editor’s contributions.

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