Felia Anderson and Caroline Lambrecht have loads in common. Both started teaching on the exact same day at different schools 33 years ago. Both transferred to Lakewood Elementary in 1987, and both are retiring this month.
“We both have naturally curly hair,” Lambrecht says, and “we both like margaritas,” Anderson adds as they both crack up.
Despite commonalities, they are different in many ways, too, says Lambrecht: “She’s an animal lover; I’m an animal chaser. I like to exercise, and she likes to chew on pencils.”
They only became best friends after Anderson started teaching kindergarten, the same grade Lambrecht teaches, a few years ago.
And though they are a hoot, no doubt, they are able to reflect on their careers with sincerity.
Over a couple decades the teachers learned valuable lessons from their Lakewood Elementary students. Anderson has learned “major patience”, she says, and to “see things through a child’s eyes, which gets harder and harder as you get older and older. That reminds you to see the best in people,” she says.
Lambrecht has learned to give children more credit.
“Kids are capable of doing difficult tasks if we present it to them in a fun and interesting way,” she says. “[The kindergarteners] used to color and finger paint, now they read and write in journals.”
And — as evidenced in some of their more gratifying experiences — the teachers impacted students’ lives, as well.
Years ago, Anderson taught dyslexic second graders. A girl who had struggled with one of the worst cases of dyslexia Anderson had ever seen, returned, after graduating from college and landing a job at an insurance firm, to thank her.
“That was one of the more rewarding instances,” Anderson says.
Lambrecht once taught a kindergartener named Michael who spoke mostly Spanish.
“He had a tough time reading at first, but later became one of the best readers in my class,” she says. “As a little kid, he promised me that when he graduated from high school, he would take me out to dinner.”
A couple weeks ago, Michael and his girlfriend came by Lambrecht’s classroom. He’s graduating from Woodrow this month, and he invited her out for a burger and a shake.
“I wanted to grab him and hug him,” Lambrecht says. “But I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his girlfriend!”
Both teachers say they will substitute in classrooms after retirement, but not before having a little fun.
“I will visit my son, a pharmacist who lives in Vail, Colo., sit on his deck and watch the sunsets and the Colorado River,” Lambrecht says.
Anderson, who’s heading for the Bahamas this summer, says she’s also trying to talk her friend into a girls’ trip.
The Lakewood community is invited to a party at Matt’s Rancho Martinez restaurant in Lakewood Shopping Center on Tuesday, May 18 to wish Lakewood Elementary teachers Feli Anderson and Caroline Lambrecht a happy retirement.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.