Ponoka teacher officially retires after 43 years on the job

We all remember the great teachers who impacted our lives in many ways and, after 43 years on the job, March 26 marked the last day of work for one of Ponoka’a finest.

Social studies teacher, Elmer Kusiek, retied from fulltime teaching at Ponoka Composite High School in the year 2000, but after 13 days into his retirement, he was back at it for the Ponoka Outreach where he has been working part-time ever since.

Throughout his career, Kusiek has devoted his time to building Social studies curriculum and over the last year, his primarily focus has been building a new curriculum for the Outreach – a Social Studies 30-1-2 program that will be implemented next year.

“Students for years to come will be engaging in a process I’ve created. Knowing I’ll be leaving something behind is a great feeling,” he said.

Judging from the kinds words students, staff, friends, and members of the community had to say about him, it’s clear he’ll be leaving more than curriculum behind.

Kusiek began teaching in September of 1966 after being inspired by good mentors and role models in his own life. “I really believe you can make a difference working with young people. The youth are our future. Shaping and nurturing them is essential and I’m happy I could do that,” he said.

What plans is Mr. Kusiek looking forward to now that’s schools out once and for all?

“I’m looking forward to creating a sustainable lifestyle – one which has a balance between learning and pleasure. I want to spend time with my best friend and wife of 31 years, spend time with my four boys and will be looking forward to weddings, time with grandchildren, time with friends, and time on house renovations and yard maintenance. It will be a tremendous transition, but I won’t be going back to teaching this time. I think I’ve reached the top of the mountain and now it’s time to sit back and reflect,” he said.

“Yes, I’m leaving my job behind but I’ll be taking all of the memories with me and I want to cherish them forever. I had a great run with no regrets and tremendous support. I’m thankful to the people who hired and rehired me and had confidence in me – I am thankful to my colleagues and thankful to have been well treated by the students. Thank you to the community of Ponoka because education goes beyond the school system. It’s not just the teacher who teaches – it’s the businesses, parents, and the community who are a part of the learning process as well.”

Best of luck in the future Mr. Kusiek. It’s clear your classroom presence and personality will be deeply missed by many lives you have touched over the years.