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home : schools : othello school district May 28, 2016

7/10/2013 6:31:00 PM
Une vie à plein bord...
Kristi Spohr showcases some of the art in her classroom before she took it down for good. Photo by Briana Alzola.
Kristi Spohr showcases some of the art in her classroom before she took it down for good. Photo by Briana Alzola.
Erik Pague

If you've had the pleasure of taking one of Kristi Spohr's classes at some point, chances are pretty good you can read the headline to this article. For those who haven't, it's French for "a life filled to the brim' - a motto that's guided Spohr during her 35 years as a teacher at Othello High School.
Spohr retired from her position as the French and Pacific Northwest history teacher at the high school at the end of the school year. She taught in plenty of other classes, as well, but her favorite was teaching French, which she first started learning as an eight-grader in Richland.
"The ability to reach students by song, poetry, reading and listening - it's so varied and I guess that's why I loved it," she said. "I had really good instructors ... and I guess I just wanted to be like them and offer students a variety of ways to learn."
Spohr feels learning a foreign language gives students an edge in their other subjects and gives them an avenue to express themselves creatively. Along with her chances to make lasting impacts on her students' lives over the years, she also enjoyed working with her fellow educators at the high school.
"The people I worked with were amazing and my students have been incredible," she said. "I especially loved being a teacher and seeing students who continue to pursue French at the college level ... that is personally gratifying that I had a small piece in their development."
After a long and successful career, Spohr has built an impressive collection of memories and recalls having fun around homecoming time, interacting with both local and foreign exchange students and watching her own children grow up and learn at their school. She also took nine trips to France with some of her students and said it was great to watch them become confident enough in their skills to be comfortable in a new culture.
"As a French teacher, it is so satisfying to watch students become confident in their language skills and see how they grow and mature when exposed to completely new cultures and environments," she said.
When Christmas came around, she had some fun with her students and made sure to share it with as many people as she could.
"Singing French Christmas carols through the halls and classrooms was always a fun time," she said. "Occasionally on a snowy day, we would get bundled up and walk to businesses close by, sing Christmas carols and then come back to the classroom for cocoa.
After taking on such a big role in so many people's lives as a teacher, Spohr admits it was hard coming to her decision to retire back in January. About four years ago, she took over an advisor position for another teacher and committed to helping this group of students until they graduated and she kept her promise. Also, as a cancer survivor, Spohr felt like the time was right to take some time for herself.
"Being a cancer survivor, I thought I could use a lightening of my stress load," she said.
She's still getting used to the retired life and enjoys spending time tending to her garden and volunteering in the community. She plans to join some groups through her church and will become a grandmother when her son and his wife have their child in September. She doesn't expect she'll be bored anytime soon, but she would still accept an opportunity to become a part-time French teacher in the future.
"I don't feel like I have finished teaching French and I hope to be rehired for just those classes," she said. "Just knowing there was a possibility, I wouldn't be back in the classroom was hard. It has been getting easier ... you have to work through it."

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