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First things, first

First-grade teacher inspires class reunions, even after 60 years

Created date

June 25th, 2013

More than half a century after Dorothy Fisher began her teaching career, she is still in touch with students from her very first class. Dorothy, an active 90-year-old retiree, recently hosted Goodale Elementary School s Class of 1953 for lunch in a private dining room at Fox Run, Erickson Living s Novi, Mich., community that she calls home. They were wonderful students, Dorothy says of her former class members, who are now in their early 70s. And, they are still delightful people. The close-knit group of elementary school students stays connected by getting together for mini-reunions several times a year. Betty Stickle Kordas, one of the members of the class, sends out a newsletter to her former classmates and helps organize events throughout the year. Now that we re retired, we re all back in touch more, Betty says. Every five years, we try to have a whole weekend reunion. Over the years, Betty says, the gang started inviting Dorothy, their beloved former teacher, to join in on the fun. Betty fondly recalls her and her friends days in Ms. Fisher s auditorium class, where they learned about theater, art, and music. [Dorothy] was instrumental in helping three [members of the class] create a jazz band, Betty says. She s been a creative influence in all of our lives. As much as her former students appreciate what they learned from her, Dorothy also enjoyed her early teaching days. I was teaching things I was interested in like art, music, and plays, and they were responsive students, she recalls of her first class.

I always enjoyed teaching

Dorothy s time at Goodale was just the beginning of a rewarding and successful career in education. After teaching auditorium classes and social studies, she went on to become an assistant principal and then a principal. She left Goodale to work in Detroit s magnet middle schools during the time they were being desegregated. It was a very interesting time on the far east side of Detroit, Dorothy recalls. I always enjoyed teaching and being in contact with young people. In 1971, Dorothy started Detroit s Region 7 magnet middle school. With the freedom to set her own policies, Dorothy says she did away with the traditional grading system, which she says can be a disincentive for some students. There would be young people who worked so hard, but still got a D, Dorothy says. So, instead, I had teachers comment on quality of students work. That way, the hard-working students still had a good report to take home to parents. When she retired at age 55, the school that Dorothy had founded was renamed Fisher Magnet Upper Academy in her honor. She also founded the Dorothy L. Fisher Scholarship at Wayne State University, which awards scholarships to students from her school who earn a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

Former teacher still learning

About five years ago, Dorothy moved from a condo in Rochester, Mich., to Fox Run. She lives in a two-bedroom, Fairmont-style apartment home with a full kitchen. She says her sunny apartment has lots of windows with views of Fox Run s tree-studded grounds. When I look out my windows, I can see all of the trees blossoming, she says. Dorothy uses her second bedroom as a den, and not surprisingly, the former teacher is also an avid reader. I have five bookcases that are all jammed with books, she says. With dozens of resident-run clubs and committees, Dorothy has found plenty of leisure activities to enrich her retirement. As a former educator, Dorothy was drawn to Fox Run s lifelong learning committee. The group brings in speakers on a variety of topics throughout the year. Dorothy also belongs to the movie committee and a discussion club in which members all bring in thought-provoking passages to read aloud at each meeting. [Fox Run] is a great place for seniors, Dorothy says. We are very active. In addition to camaraderie with hundreds of other like-minded retirees, Fox Run residents also enjoy the on-site amenities an Erickson Living community has to offer. For example, they swim in the all-season pool, or work out in Fox Run s fitness center, or gather for a bridge game in the bistro, or perhaps spend the afternoon painting in the on-site art studio. And that s just a few of the countless activities and interests to be found throughout Fox Run. When residents want to host friends or family for a meal, they don t have to worry about cooking or cleaning. They can take advantage of the private dining room, like Dorothy did when she hosted her former students for lunch. Fox Run s dining staff prepares the food and handles all the catering, leaving residents free to simply enjoy their guests. We had a lovely lunch in the Belmont Clubhouse, with our own special room and servers to wait on us, Betty says of her recent lunch at Fox Run. Afterward, Ms. Fisher showed us the lovely auditorium, and some other parts of the building it just kind of makes us all want to move in.