by Les Peck
The Hawk Eye
Sunday, May 19, 1974, page 36
Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa
NEW LONDON — Today's students want to have "a good time" in school and the new math is "horrid," but 45½ years of teaching has still been a "joyous career."
Those are the observations from Mrs. Faye Kermeen, who will retire at the end of this school year as seventh-eighth grade math teacher for 121 students in New London junior high here. Mrs. Kermeen will reach mandatory retirement age of 65 June 4.
"I like kids, I always wanted to work with them, I always wanted to teach," she said in an interview between classes. As a child, she badgered a brother and sister to play school; her mother and a sister were teachers; her father studied for teaching but never entered the profession.
A 1926 Fairfield high school graduate, Mrs. Kermeen went to Parsons college for a year and a summer before she started teaching in a Jefferson county rural school at age of 18. That was followed by jobs at five other rural schools in Jefferson and Henry counties before she came to New London for the last 27½ years.
Sandwiched in her career was a marriage in 1931 to Harold Kermeen (the couple observed its 43rd year together last Friday) and the earning of a degree in education from Iowa Wesleyan college, Mt. Pleasant, in 1964. The Kermeens have no children of their own, but they have helped raise two.
At New London, Mrs. Kermeen taught physical education for 10 years and helped start junior high girls' basketball. Though she had never played basketball, "I was quite agile enough that I could go lickety-split across that floor with the girls," she said.
Mrs. Kermeen has studied toward a master's degree in counseling and took (sic) journalism courses at Iowa and Iowa State when she worked five years with the high school yearbook staff here.
Her "fondest memories" are of the yearbook students, she said, when they frequently worked at her home at night and around a dishpan of popcorn and soft drinks. "And I loved working with the cheerleaders," she added.
When new math came along, Mrs. Kermeen did homework at Parsons and Wesleyan, but she feels new math "has no place in our school. They say it will straighten out some of the kids, but it just mixes them up double."
She teaches conventional math "a much as I can," Mrs. Kermeen said, inserting bits of algebra and geometry for the junior high students.
Education "is in a sad state of deterioration," she asserted, citing students who want to have fun and teachers who are more concerned if they are liked rather than worried about what they teach.
Too many mothers work, Mrs. Kermeen said, and fail to stand behind the school when children are disciplined.
"I'm from the old school of discipline," she said. "I believe that kids in the future will respect discipline more and more."
Mrs. Kermeen pointed out that each year she gets letters from former students, thanking her for her strict methods. One student told her he wished she had been twice as severe, she said.
"I don't believe I could take another year," Mrs. Kermeen said, but at the same time she said there are "an awful lot of nice young people with great potential as leaders and as fine citizens."
She doesn't feel she is getting through to her students. "This makes it sad. I worry about these kids. I want to think our country will be led by people with moral concepts and moral values."
Despite the negative aspects, Mrs. Kermeen said she would not change her life if she could live it over. "I have many, many kids who are great friends with me today. They call up and tell me all about their kids."
Retirement plans are flexible, Mrs. Kermeen indicated. She might travel with her husband, who is retired from McWhirter Chevrolet, Mt. Pleasant, and she might seek part-time work.
After her school career and the extracurricular activities that went with it, after teaching square and round dancing with her husband for 10 years, and after being gone from home day and night almost every day of the week, Mrs. Kermeen said, "I am ready to retire."
June 4, 1909 — August 17, 1993