This ought to give you an idea of just how dedicated teacher Marian Hammert has been to the kindergartners in our neighborhood: When she started teaching at Lakewood Elementary School, Jimmy Carter was president, Saturday Night Live was one of the highest-grossing movies, and the biggest news of the year included the Jonestown massacre and the birth of the first test-tube baby.


          Hammert started at Lakewood in 1978, already 15 years into her teaching career.


“It’s amazing to even be in one school this long, much less to be in the same room,” she says. “You know, there are so many times they move teachers, so it’s really quite unique that not only have I been at Lakewood this whole time, but I have also been in Room 107 for 25 years.”


Before coming to Lakewood, Hammert taught in Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Independence, Mo. But the “most interesting place” she taught, she says, was in military schools in and


“I taught two years in and two years in ,” she says. “I was single at the time, and it was a wonderful way for a single teacher to see the world. The government would pay for your way over there, and then I toured all the Far East, went to and .


“In Europe , literally every weekend we would go someplace.”


It’s that zeal for travel that led Hammert to retire. She and her husband plan to visit some places they’ve never been, as well as return to some old favorites.


“Instead of like most people, who when they go somewhere they say, ‘Well, we’ve done that so we can mark that off the list now,’ we think, ‘We really liked it there. We’d like to go back,’” she says with a laugh.


The biggest change she has seen at the school has been its growth, she says.


“When I first came here, we really didn’t have that many portable buildings. And the third year I was here, enrollment dropped so much I even had to split a class. Now we have five kindergarten classes, and they’re very full. We have grown and grown and grown,” she says.


But despite the changes, much has stayed the same, Hammert says.


“The one thing that has remained very consistent is the wonderful involvement of the parents. When some parents leave, say maybe their child is leaving the sixth grade and all their children have gone through [Lakewood], I think, ‘Well, there is no way those people can ever be replaced.’ And you know what? Every year they are.


“It’s a wonderful thing how involved our parents are. And not just the mommies, the daddies too. Their hearts are really in it, and they do it because they think it’s a great school and a great area.”


Though Hammert and her husband plan to eventually move near Lake Travis in Austin, she says Lakewood will always hold a special place in her heart.


“This is really my neighborhood as much as any neighborhood has ever been. It’s really kind of a town within the city,” she says.


Lakewood is kind of a feeling. It’s a great place, and I’m going to really miss it.”


Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.