Oakhurst school sends off beloved teacher after 40 years in the classroom

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The chants for "Mrs. P" get louder and louder at Yosemite High School's gym as the school prepares to say goodbye to history and the cadet corps teacher. (KFSN)

Ellen Peterson is the last of the original teachers from Yosemite High School and she's retiring this year.

Many people would love to have the type of career Peterson did.

She's retiring this year from the high school after 40 years and she's leaving there a legend.

The chants for "Mrs. P" get louder and louder at Yosemite High School's gym as the school prepares to say goodbye to history and the cadet corps teacher. The 64-year old was just as emotional to leave the school she's helped thrive since it first opened.

"Trying to put in programs that would remind the kids that learning is really fun," she said. "It just has to be that way, it's just got to be."

As the entire school applauds her dedication to students, whether in the classroom or as the cross country head coach, many can't imagine what the school will be like without her.

Principal Randy Seals says she's been the glue that's held the school together through its ups and downs.

"There's been Ellen bringing everybody back to center and bringing everybody back to essentially family values in a small school setting," he said.

"She's kind of like a celebrity," Kevin Kirk of the cross country team said. "Everybody knows her, she's like the Pied Piper, everybody will listen to her and respects her and loves what she has to say and everybody appreciated her energy."

Known for putting her children first, Peterson said when a student doesn't do their work, she knows it's not personal it's rooted in their complex lives as teenagers.

"I believe in relationships before curriculum or rules or anything like that so I always hope they know exactly how important they are," she explained. "Without them, there isn't a me or there isn't a Yosemite."

Her ethics and dedication show off campus, too. Peterson has hiked Half Dome twice a year for thirty years.

As for why she's retiring now, she says she's lost some of her vision and it's catching up to her.

She won't go far, though, she plans on continuing to volunteer her time on campus, helping run the clock at basketball games and wrestling matches.

Plus, her granddaughter will be a freshman at Yosemite next year.
Related Topics:
educationeducationretirementmadera countyOakhurst
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