Janelle Rainey ended the school year the same way her students did– virtually, with remote goodbyes over the computer thanks to the restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike her students, Rainey won’t be coming back.
Friday, May 22 marked her retirement after 34 years of teaching children how to read, mostly in the Talawanda School District, where she taught at Kramer Elementary, Bogan Elementary, Marshall Elementary and the former Stewart Elementary.
When her husband, Chris, marked the occasion with a post on the Oxford Talk page of Facebook, more than 200 users left glowing comments thanking Rainey for her time and dedication to the community as well as her commitment to the young people of the school district.
Heidi Moore, a former fourth and fifth grade student of Rainey’s at Stewart Elementary, wrote that Rainey was her favorite teacher and positively impacted her life. “She was always energetic and happy to see us,” Moore said. “She was the most genuine and loving teacher I ever had.”
Rainey began teaching in Oxford in the fall of 1990. Prior to her teaching years, Rainey studied special education at Ball State University, mathematics at Butler University and education administration at Miami University.
Rainey moved to Oxford because of the “cozy, small town-feel” and has had hundreds of Oxford students over the years. Most recently, worked as a reading intervention specialist at Kramer Elementary, helping students who struggled with reading comprehension and phonemic awareness.
Rainey said she knew from a young age she had a passion for teaching. What she said she will miss most in retirement is interacting with students on a daily basis. “The students keep me young,” she said. “They have just as much to offer as I do.”
Rainey went on to explain the difficulties of finishing her time teaching during the pandemic shutdown. “All of the things we do to celebrate students’ accomplishments at the end of the year couldn’t happen for us this year. I’m so sad we missed out on that,” Rainey said.
Rainey is just one of the many teachers retiring after this year of interruption. Vick Treneff, communications services director of the state teachers retirement system of Ohio, said around 2,000 teachers will retire in 2020. Ohio teachers can retire at any age as long as they’ve given 33 years of service or are age 65 with five years of service.
Looking ahead to her retirement, Rainey said she plans on traveling, gardening, reading and spending time with her grandchildren and husband.