June 2016 Issue - 5 Questions
June 29, 2016

5 questions for ... Roy W. Clare

Source: NYSUT United

Roy W. ClareRoy W. Clare is a recently retired music teacher and chorus director at Heim Middle School in the Williamsville School District. Clare, 90, a member of the Williamsville Teachers Association, retired in June after 57 years in the classroom.

1. When did you know you wanted to teach?

When I was about 10 years old. I had a friend over and I grabbed a thin slab of wood to draw on, and gave a geography lesson. I drew a map of New York State and taught where everything was. I'd had piano lessons from a young age, and was an organist at my church; music education was a natural choice. I graduated from Otterbein University in Ohio, earned my master's degree at Northwestern and my doctorate from the State University of Buffalo.

2. Your teaching career pre-dates NYSUT. How have things changed over the years?

Back when I started, the board of education set our salary. We were publicly told how much we would earn after the board had already adopted it. There were no negotiations; we had no input.

After we unionized, a lot of things, such as class sizes and the length of the school day, changed for the better. We had the opportunity to negotiate salaries, sick leave and we created a sick leave bank.

3. What will you miss most about the classroom?

I've had the good fortune to spend my entire career in the Williamsville district doing what I love, teaching middle school students. I'm as excited now as I was 57 years ago. I realize middle school isn't for everyone, but I like the age. I've had many chances to change levels, but I didn't want to leave. You can really motivate students at that age. I'm going to miss their energy the most.

4. How did you make the decision to retire?

It was just a feeling. A former superintendent once said to me, "When it's time, you'll know" and for the first time in my career I got the feeling it was time to move on. If you enter retirement kicking and screaming, I think it's a sign that you shouldn't be going.

I plan to devote myself full time to my second career — buying and selling antique books. On June 24, I'll step out of the world of education and, on June 27, into the world of rare books.

5. Any parting advice for educators?

Three things, and these are the words I hope I'll be remembered for: integrity, enthusiasm and humor. Those are the three qualities we all need, whatever your career. Attitude is so important. If you can be enthusiastic about what you're doing, there's a good chance you're going to keep doing it.

Sometimes people say to me, "Doesn't that make you feel old?" I don't consider age because nothing makes me feel old. Some people are old at 30. I don't intend to get old.